Ok, not quite a downright horror, there is no Bogeyman in sight, no masked fiend wanting to hack up annoying young Virgins, or even any blood of sort, splashing across the screen. But if you take a look at the cover and see the words Chillier, then that’s enough for me to warrant the film being added to this thread, even though I can understand some of you bemoaning the fact that “its not a horror!!!!!!!”
The movie for its credit, does contain some scenes that do “chill” your bone, in fact at times it recalls the delights of such 70’s films like Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, but the plot on offer here is nothing as straight forward as aliens taking over the bodies of us humans.
The only way I can sum up the film’s storyline is the fact that its Insane. No seriously, a freaky mind bender which you can only expect from the mind that gave us last decades most wonderful film Donnie Darko. You have to feel for Richard Kelly, his debut film as not only entered Pop Culture, but from here on in, every film he will make, will always be judged by the same standard as that film with the young boy and talking rabbit, and while expectations was not so high after his follow up disaster Southland Tales, he still had to get some credit back after the critical mauling Tales took from every quarter.
The fact he goes back to his roots with The Box sharing many images with Darko, could mean that Kelly is playing safe with a genre he knows, but you get the impression that Kelly is not that type of director. Playing safe is not in his nature, he loves to test the audience with his vivid imagination and there is something Hitchcock about his approach, hence the music score that reminds you of that man’s greatest films.
The Box is a puzzle of tricks that you will either love or hate. There is no getting round the fact that despite a first twenty minutes that suggests a straight forward film, by the time you reach the half hour mark, you either hooked or totally lost by the nature of what is going on. Which is quite a staggering point when at first you think the overall plot is straight forward. A married couple Norma and Arthur Lewis with a young son are struggling for money when a parcel arrives at their door followed by a scarred man named Arlington Stanley (Frank Langella) who gives them a simple offer. Inside the parcel is a box, a wooded box with a red button that if they decide to press they will get a Million Dollars…..the only catch is….someone they do not know will die….
And that is it……..well sort of. One of the reasons that this has a kind of negative word of mouth is the movie trailer that suggest a total different film. What we see is the young couple debating to press the button, followed by images of them trying to find out who Arlington Stanley is in what seems a massive chase movie with the Saw theme music pounding at the background. The FACT the film is nothing like this may cause concern for those wanting a straight forward thriller.
The fact and SPOILER ALERT…..the button is pressed in the first twenty five minutes shows how wrong this film was marketed and I was quite shocked that the whole plot of “will they press it?” was solved straight away. What I did not expect is what happened next. A sort of alien takeover of such, followed by early Spielberg style images, and a plot that would fill up two pages of this thread if I went into it. Lets make it clear, The Box is no routine film, it bursts with imagination and as a wonderful energy to it. Here we have like all classic Sci Fi/horror movies mixed into one film, its easy to spot some of the homage’s on offer, the 2001 afterlife sequence is a joy and one that really stands out!
But despite all this insane and bonkers going on, at its core, is a film with a simple moral message. The choices we make could come back to haunt us, consequences of our actions and all that. Its that theme that is nailed on in a wonderful dark ending that pays off all the investment you put in from watching the crazy going on….
The Box is not as good Donnie Darko how could it be? But it makes Richard Kelly stand out as a talent to watch, a director who suggests that his best work is still to come, and for that all fans of film should be really excited…………..
OVERALL: A film whose box is full of surprises and delights, its the closest Richard Kelly as come to a mainstream offering, but still he comes up with a mind bender with an ultimate dark pay off……….