Based on an urban legend of sorts, The Box is, well, about a box, duh. The thing that makes the box special is that if you press the big red button on it, you will be granted a million dollars but someone, somewhere, that you don’t know, is going to die as a result of the button being pushed. So that’s the idea…
Of course that’s just part of the film, the filmmakers introduce a family element with the couple of Norma and Arthur Lewis (played by Cameron Diaz and James Marsden) along with their son Walter. They’re struggling financially (but it’s not exactly dire which is a weak point in the script) and they’re given this opportunity by Frank Langella’s Arilington Steward character. Of course this opportunity turns out to be a double-edged sword as this experiment plays out. There are some interesting elements in here with regard to who’s behind the box and why. It plays out a little plastic at times but the backdrop is intriguing but unfortunately at times clunky.
I think the directing and some of the script plot points are what’s hurting this a bit. It’s not awful, it’s just awkward at times as the events play out. Example – when Arlington Steward shows up to present the box to the Lewises, they genuinely seem surprised but don’t ask nearly enough questions, seeming a bit too naive or trusting for such a bizarre set of circumstances. Their home plight isn’t necessarily super-terrible either, not really worth the risk of killing someone to bail them out that’s for damn sure, unless they’re supposed to be cold, selfish people, which doesn’t fit their characters. Regardless, it’s compelling to watch the story unfold…
The actors pull off their roles well, all of the principals fit nicely. Cameron Diaz is particularly good and shows herself to be a versatile actor once again. Frank Langella is always enjoyable to watch.
Visually this is set in the 70’s and is done true to form. The clothing and the settings put you there and with the tension the soundtrack helps to build, it has a bit of a Hitchcock vibe, which heightened the un-nerving chain of events the main characters were experiencing.
Overall, worth a look to be sure.
reviewed by Sean McKnight