by Del Harvey
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Perhaps most well-known for the cult hit Donnie Darko, director Richard Kelly delivers a sci-fi thriller with several unusual twists in The Box. Set in 1976, when the world was looking to the skies for UFO’s and leery of men in black suits and dark sedans with tinted windows, we open on a quiet, upscale seburban setting. The doorbell awakens seemingly perfect couple Norma (Cameron Diaz) and Arthur Lewis (James Marsden).
When she goes to the door, Norma find a mysterious box on their doorstep and a dark sedan pulling away in the street. Carrying the unusual delivery inside, the all-American 70’s family soon finds themselves on a dark and improbable journey. The very next day a disfigured messenger named Arlington Steward (Frank Langella) tells them that if they press a button on the box, it will kill a stranger and they will receive $1 million dollars. No reason is given - that would be ruining the story. For the next 24 hours, Norma and Arthur debate the ramifications of being given such a horrible choice. It helps that they are living beyond their means, that Norma’s job as a teacher has just that day taken a hit and Arthur did not get accepted into the astronaut corps.
“The Box” is based upon the classic short story “Button, Button” by Richard Matheson. It was written for the screen and directed by Richard Kelly, whose 2001 sci-fi mystery thriller “Donnie Darko,” a cult classic, earned a Grand Jury Prize nomination at the Sundance Film Festival. “Donnie Darko” went on to screen at film festivals around the world and brought Kelly Independent Spirit Award nominations for Best First Feature and Best First Screenplay.
“The Box” stars Cameron Diaz (“The Holiday”), James Marsden (“X-Men: The Last Stand”), Oscar® nominee Frank Langella (“Frost/Nixon”), James Rebhorn (“The International”) and Holmes Osborne (television’s “Invasion.”)
It was produced by Sean McKittrick, Richard Kelly and Dan Lin, with Sue Baden-Powell, Ted Field, Paris Kasidokostas Latsis, Terry Dougas and Edward H. Hamm Jr. serving as executive producers. The behind-the-scenes creative team includes director of photography Steven Poster (“Stuart Little 2”), production designer Alexander Hammond (“Flightplan”), editor Sam Bauer (“Donnie Darko”) and costume designer April Ferry (“Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines”). Original music is provided by Win Butler, Regine Chassagne and Owen Pallett.
The Box is available on Blu-Ray, DVD, and Download on February 23, 2010. Check out the official site here.
Del Harvey is the founder of Film Monthly, a film teacher, a writer and a film critic in Chicago.
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