The Box (2009)
★★ / ★★★★
An unsuspecting couple (Cameron Diaz, James Marsden) from the suburbs in the winter of 1976 received a box with a red button from a man with a deformity (Frank Langella). They were told that if they pressed the button, they would receive a million dollars in cash. However, upon their decision to press the button, someone they didn’t know would die. I’ve read and heard all sorts of frustration about this film and I have to admit I was really excited to see it. I like debate as opposed to just everyone agreeing that something is horrible or a masterpiece. It was a weird movie but definitely not as strange as I thought it would be. I liked its ability to keep me guessing. At first I thought the strange events that were happening were driven by some sort of a government conspiracy or some sort of an alien life form. But as it went on, I started wondering if the happenings were really happening. It was like watching “The Twilight Zone;” the more unbelievable the story became, the more I wanted to know what was really going on. Unlike most people, I didn’t feel frustration with it. I learned to embrace its enigmatic nature because I rooted for the couple to succeed. The primary moral question was always at the forefront for me. Admittedly, I would have made the same decision they chose (yes, they did press the red button–which is not a spoiler because if they didn’t press the button, there would be no movie) because they really needed the money. However, as much as I enjoyed watching the strange happenings unfold–like people becoming sort of possessed and having unexplainable nosebleeds (think “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”)–the picture desperately needed focus. While I was able to follow it with the best of my abilities, when I looked at the big picture, it was a bit confusing and some scenes needed to be trimmed off. In a way, it became redundant as it went on and the movie probably should have only been approximately an hour and twenty minutes. Nevertheless, despite the mediocre rating, I’m willing to give it a slight recommendation because it entertained me and it worked as a hybrid between science fiction and a paranoid thriller. “The Box,” based on a short story “Button, Button” by Richard Matheson and directed by Richard Kelly, kept the mystery alive throughout because of some nice twists. It was not as focused and as tight as I would have liked but it definitely had the potential to be really good.