25-year-old director Richard Kelly came out
of nowhere with his 2001 feature debut Donnie Darko, a seamless
meld of melodrama, suspense and existentialism which quickly became one
of the most widely interpreted and thought-provoking films of the
Though it’s been a while coming, Kelly’s
sophomore effort is no less haunting and cerebral. Based on a short
story by Richard Matheson and a subsequent 1985 episode of The
Twilight Zone, The Box revolves around a seemingly typical
middle class couple of the 1970s. Norma Lewis (Cameron Diaz) and her
NASA employee husband Arthur (James Marsden) are wakened early one
morning by a knock at the door; upon bleary-eyed perusal the couple are
taken aback to discover a black car vanishing into the distance and a
mysterious parcel left on their doorstep.
Inside the parcel, of course, is the
eponymous box; a small wooden device with a large button encased inside
a glass dome. The couple ponder its appearance for a day or two before
the dapper, deformed visage of Arlington Steward (Frank Langella)
unexpectedly appears at their door.
Steward explains that the device is
intended as a sort of test; if the couple decide to push the button they
will receive one million dollars, but someone on earth, a person unknown
to them, will lose their life as a consequence. If they choose not to
push the button Steward will retake possession of the box, and make the
offer to a different household. The pair are given 24 hours to decide.
This is a creepy, kooky sci-fi premise of
the highest order, which is unsurprising given the story’s pedigree.
Though occasionally depending too heavily on the fact its audience will
take its narrative convolutions at face value, The Box is
nonetheless a challenging and remarkably inventive work. Diaz and
Marsden are excellent as the wholesome All-American duo being taken
unwittingly for the ride of their lives, and Frank Langella is equally
memorable as the enigmatic Arlington Steward.
Furthermore the BD transfer is as flawless
as one would expect and the soundtrack, courtesy of none other than
sublime Canadian outfit Arcade Fire, is bold, rich and atmospheric in
One of the most unique and overlooked films
of 2009, The Box has come up beautifully on Blu-ray and boasts a
host of worthwhile special features as additional incentive. Fans of
Donnie Darko and its mindbending cinematic ilk will find much to
recommend the film, and the ever-fertile imagination of Richard Kelly
ensures that The Box will keep you talking long after its closing
credits have rolled.
Audio commenatry with director &
screenwriter Richard Kelly
Grounded in Reality – 10 minute Making-Of
Richard Matheson in His Own Words – 5
Music Video Prequels
Visual Effects Revealed – short featurette
with Visual Effects Editor Dylan Highsmith