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The Box (2009)



Average Rating: 5.1/10
Reviews Counted: 150
Fresh: 67 | Rotten: 83

Imaginative but often preposterous, The Box features some thrills but largely feels too piecemeal.


Average Rating: 4.8/10
Critic Reviews: 22
Fresh: 9 | Rotten: 13

Imaginative but often preposterous, The Box features some thrills but largely feels too piecemeal.



liked it
Average Rating: 2.4/5
User Ratings: 358,458

My Rating

Movie Info

Norma and Arthur Lewis are a suburban couple with a young child who receive an anonymous gift bearing fatal and irrevocable consequences. A simple wooden box, it promises to deliver its owner $1 million with the press of a button. However, pressing this button will simultaneously cause the death of another human being somewhere in the world--someone they don't know. With just 24 hours to have the box in their possession, Norma and Arthur find themselves in the crosshairs of a startling moral

Feb 23, 2010


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November 5, 2009:
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All Critics (150) | Top Critics (22) | Fresh (67) | Rotten (83) | DVD (3)

Kelly treats what is essentially a Stanford University psychology experiment with inflated somberness.

September 24, 2011 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Is it an odd film? Certainly. Will it creep you out more than it engages you? Probably. Should we be rewarding folks who are willing to step out of bounds and make us think? Definitely.

May 6, 2011 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

While it's true that the film's sci-fi antics are far from watertight in the logic department, there's enough eccentricity and ambition at play to charm and bemuse in equal measure.

December 4, 2009 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Whatever you do, do not accept delivery of The Box, a package that doesn't know where it is going nor how to get there.

November 12, 2009 | Comments (3)
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Kelly has talent, but for his next movie, he might try coming down to earth and forgetting about the people who control the lightning.

November 11, 2009 Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

I think Kelly is a very inventive writer and I think he is his own worst enemy behind the camera.

November 9, 2009 Full Review Source: At the Movies
At the Movies
Top Critic IconTop Critic

What they end up deciding sets in slothlike motion a convoluted string of ludicrous events that will take writer-director Richard Kelly years to live down.

February 15, 2013 Full Review Source: Georgia Straight

Weird for the sake of weird? Definitely. A work of art? Maybe. Genius? Hardly. But be sure of one thing: this is most certainly a box that's worth peeking into.

September 29, 2012 Full Review Source:

A shallow and easily-forgettable thriller.

September 16, 2012 Full Review Source: Big Hollywood
Big Hollywood

it's just a big, incomprehensible, cliché-laden mess.

February 15, 2012 Full Review Source:

Total head-scratch entertainment.

April 4, 2011 Full Review Source:

Richard Matheson probably wouldn't care for Kelly's adaptation too much because it certainly goes its own way. It's not perfect; it's a little slow and plodding and has a few characters that don't add much to the overall affect. But it's still quite good.

January 7, 2011 Full Review Source:

Here's one box you don't want to open.

December 31, 2010 Full Review Source: | Comment (1)

Think twice about giving into foolish curiosity and leave The Box's button untouched.

August 14, 2010 Full Review Source:

The consequence of free will is examined in Richard Kelly's mind bending morality tale, The Box.

August 7, 2010 Full Review Source: Matt's Movie Reviews
Matt's Movie Reviews

I'd like to think there is a director's cut coming at some point to fill in the gaping holes.

July 4, 2010

"Somebody get Richard Kelly a Katherine Heigl romantic comedy stat, or else we might have yet another talented filmmaker unable to wiggle free from his own cavernous pretension."

June 2, 2010 Full Review Source: | Comment (1)

Kelly runs The Box a little too closely to the themes of The Day the Earth Stood Still, although it does have something more cynical to say about humanity.

April 1, 2010 Full Review Source: Window to the Movies
Window to the Movies

[Richard] Matheson's original story was a short, sharp piece with a very direct point. Kelley simply uses it as a jumping off point for his own dense, weird and oddly personal "what-if" tale.

March 25, 2010 Full Review Source:

Kelly stretches a perfectly good 22-minute television episode out to two hours with an insane barrage of red herrings and metaphysical sci-fi mumbo-jumbo

March 19, 2010 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Weekly
Philadelphia Weekly

It is a film that wants to be profound but it ends up feeling more like a lesser episode of The X Files.

March 18, 2010 Full Review Source: Cinema Autopsy | Comment (1)
Cinema Autopsy

[Director Kelly] ventures boldly into the ludicrous, and comes out the other side with an even more sinister conclusion.

March 12, 2010 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

All moral conflicts and creepy allusions are lost in a barrage of ridiculous plot devices, and a story that makes absolutely no sense...

February 25, 2010 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

For those willing to follow Kelly down all the rabbit holes his warped imagination contrives, there are small treasures to be found here and there.

February 15, 2010 Full Review Source: San Francisco Examiner
San Francisco Examiner

Audience Reviews for The Box

A 'close but no cigar' adaptation of Richard Matheson's work. I like the story and written in its original form it's brilliant. The problem is that Richard Kelly, one of the most over-hyped Directors working today, tried to tell the whole story when he should have edited it for the screen. The phrase 'Less is more' rings true here as after the hundredth twist neither myself or my wife gave a toss about the characters or what would happen to them. You can't draw in an audience with a simple premise and then bombard them with Aliens, 'Lightning people', Body-snatching, mind control etc etc. It was like a season of The Twilight Zone condensed into 100 minutes. It does look though and I did like many of the ideas. Frank Langella was brilliant as the creepy half-faced Arlington Steward and the supporting cast, especially the late James Rebhorn, gave a realistic feeling to the fantasy. Unfortunately Cameron Diaz and James Marsden let the whole production down, neither of them bring anything of substance or intrigue or indeed believability to the story and were obviously hired for their names/looks. A different pair of actors would have improved the film no end in my opinion. In conclusion, this is a real missed opportunity and maybe better suited to a mini-series rather than a film.
April 10, 2014

Super Reviewer

January 13, 2013

Super Reviewer

I'm not really sure what this movie was suppose to accomplish, and I don't think the writer did either. It's not entertaining horror, it's not interesting sci-fi, and the suspense is poorly executed. The only thing the film achieves is making a contrived mess. Things start off promising, but it's all downhill from there. Halfway through, the stupidity is just overwhelming. This film ends up lower than dog excrement. Avoid.
June 1, 2012
Jason Calvin

Super Reviewer

27/07/2011 (DVD)

Bewildered at first! The bewildered weirdness kicks but and for was very puzzling. Sometimes I felt like "what the heck is going on?" And then I would settle down to see the strange results produced from the unexplainable theories that in the end all made sense!

Very "Twilight Zone"-ish and according to what I know, the original story "Button, Button!" was written by "Richard Matherson" who wrote "I Am Legend" and several "Twilight Zone" episodes which explains the psychological wrenching.

A well done film adaptation for a short-story! Thinking that this team was able to produce a full length movie out of a short-story article from a "Playboy" magazine from 1970... Impressive.
April 30, 2012

Super Reviewer

    1. Martin Teague: Sir? If you don't mind my asking... why a box?
    – Submitted by Mark C (2 years ago)
    1. Arlington Steward: I hope you aren't playing detective. I have quite a few employees.
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
    1. Norma Lewis: You sure do ask a lot of questions.
    2. Walter Lewis: And now you're avoiding them.
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
View all quotes (3)

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