Director – Richard Kelley
Cast – Cameron Diaz, James Marsden, Frank Langella, James Rebhorn, Holmes Osborne, Sam Oz Stone, Gillian Jacobs
Release Year – 2009
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Richard Kelly made a name for himself when he wrote and directed indie-sleeper Donnie Darko. Nine years later he has returned to the genre with his adaptation of Richard Matheson’s short story “Button Button”, which was also previously adapted into a “Twilight Zone” episode(Season 1, Episode 20 if you’re interested). I heard lots of mixed reviews over this film, so naturally I took my time viewing it(in other words I waited for it to hit dollar theaters). I’m glad I did wait a while to view this flick, because despite it’s positive experience I can see why some would be less than positive about this one.
The Box stars Cameron Diaz and James Marsden as Norma and Arthur Lewis, a simple couple that despite their monetary issues are happy with what they have. One day they receive an anonymous package on their doorstep. They open the package and find that it is simply a wooden box with a button on it, along with instructions to wait for “Mr. Stewart”. Later that day a man named Arlington Stewart(Frank Langella) visit’s the home and explains the rules behind the button. The rules are simple: press the button, and you will receive $1,000,000 tax free, however someone you do not know will die. Don’t press the button, and nothing will happen. After much debate the couple decides to press the button, and disastrous results ensue.
I’m a big fan of the short story and the “Twilight Zone” episode, so I figured I would enjoy this one as well. For the most part I did, but it seems this plot is one reserved for short story status. I love the notion it presents, mainly because I can put myself in the person’s shoes and see what decision I would make(much like the “Saw” films). The problem with that is that this plot can only last so long, which is why this film threw in A LOT of different elements. I did like the additions to the plot that were thrown in, and found them to be pretty creative. The only bad thing about everything that was thrown in was that it made this film’s plot HIGHLY convoluted. We are left in the dark for a lot of the film, which is fine with me, but it seems we were left in the dark simply because there really as no definite explanation for what was going on.
Aside from what I just mentioned regarding Richard Kelly’s writing, his direction for the film is well done. The pacing isn’t bad and the scenes of Mr. Stewart’s hideaway were pretty damn awesome. We don’t get much of anything as far as gore or kills in this film, but that’s not what this flick is about.
Overall, this is a positive watch that gives us a pretty interesting plot but will become convoluted at times. If you are one to be turned off by such plots then you may want to stay away from this one.