Directed by Richard Kelly
A couple receives a tantalizingly strange offer.
The Box is at least “quite remarkable to watch” when it works, said Stephanie Zacharek in Salon.com. The writer and director of cult classic Donnie Darko, Richard Kelly, continues his signature mix of sci-fi, surrealism, and suburban satire with this film based on a short story by fantasy writer Richard Matheson. As he sets up a premise about a couple (Cameron Diaz and James Marsden) offered a million dollars to push a button that will result in the death of a complete stranger, Kelly builds suspense the “old-fashioned way.” But as soon as the button is pushed, the plot spirals out of control, said Manohla Dargis in The New York Times. Rather than focus on the moral dilemma, Kelly introduces a “Pandora’s box” of needlessly complicated subthemes concerning the World Trade Center towers, Jean-Paul Sartre, and the Mars Viking mission. There are “far too many happenings, conspiracies, and cultural artifacts” here for one film, said Jordan Mintzer in Variety. It’s obvious that Kelly was trying to prove how good he is at “thinking out of The Box.” But it isn’t quite clear what he was thinking. He pushes “a few of the right buttons,” but too many of the wrong ones.