Dec 162009
Authors: Laura James

Richard Kelly, the director of the 2001 cult hit “Donnie Darko,” has done it again with the strange mystery/thriller “The Box.”

Although “The Box” doesn’t stand up to “Donnie Darko” in terms of overall effectiveness and comprehension, “The Box” does accomplish a lot throughout the film.

Set in 1976, the plot follows a young couple in Virginia, played by Cameron Diaz and James Marsden, who receive a small wooden box with a red button. They receive a note saying that Mr. Arlington Steward will visit them at 5 p.m. A disfigured Mr. Steward, played by Frank Langella, makes a proposal to the couple that could earn them $1 million.

The catch is that at the exact time they push the button somewhere in the world someone they don’t know will die.

In true “Donnie Darko” fashion, there is a supernatural element to the film that if told would spoil the movie for anyone interested, so lets just say that the film gets pretty “out there” relatively fast.

Without spoiling the twist, the audience learns that the lead characters were not the only people that the box found and who were made an offer. As the movie plays out, the couple continues to discover what they’ve gotten themselves into.

The movie falls short of “Donnie Darko” in terms of comprehension. Though “Donnie Darko” was complicated and hard to follow, “The Box” is even more difficult and complex than it’s predecessor.

With classic “Twilight Zone” style intrigue, “The Box” delivers suspense and mystery. Visually the film captures the feeling of the 1970s very well, and with the aged feeling comes the question of time, leaving viewers asking, “Is the box experiment still going on?”

Altogether “The Box” is worth seeing if you’re a fan of “Donnie Darko” or the 2006 Richard Kelly film “Southlands.” There are many similarities between the films, but they’re subtle enough to make you question Kelly’s inspirations.

Movie reviewer Laura James can be reached at

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