The Box Reviews
Being let down not only by its less-than-middle-tier leads but also plagued by erratic direction, abhorrent editing, chaotic writing, and a myriad of other technical issues, The Box only benefits from two points -- Frank Langella's ever-charming performance, and the potential conversation the age-old party question of this particular "What Would You Do If" game could spark amongst your company.
Sidenote: Southern accent, Cameron Diaz? Really? Please don't.
The second act is where The Box will really divide viewers. Not unlike Donnie Darko, the film devolves into fantastical sci-fi elements involving a mysterious cult-like group and the involvement of a government subsection tied to the mysterious Steward (Frank Langella). However, whereas Donnie Darko's complicated time travel narrative seemed to flow with the coming-of-age tale it told, the complexities in The Box equally convoluted but feel less necessary to the story. The big twist the film seems to try to set up for is pretty predictable, and can be guessed by the beginning of the second act. And yet, there's something that keeps you drawn in the whole time. Whether it's the symmetrical camerawork or the eerie Arcade Fire score or the narrative itself, something about the film grabs you and doesn't let you be too bothered by its absurdity.
It certainly nails the Twilight Zone vibe (it's adapted from an episode based on a Richard Matheson short story) and, while the narrative shows signs that it probably wasn't meant for a 115 minute movie, it makes for the kind of delightfully unnerving time you expect from that. Perhaps stronger actors leading the pack (Cameron Diaz and James Marsden are fine but nothing special) and a more refined second act could push The Box from intriguing but flawed cerebral sci-fi to something a bit more consistent.