The Box (2009) Review:

Director: Richard Kelly

Runtime: 115 minutes

Cast: Cameron Diaz, James Marsden, Frank Langella, et al…

Plot (taken from IMDb): A small wooden box arrives on the doorstep of a married couple, who know that opening it will grant them a million dollars and kill someone they don’t know.

The Box features an interesting enough premise, in that the press of a button on a box will win you one million dollars at the expense of a stranger’s life. For the opening act, this is what The Box is about; the wrongs and rights of pressing the button on the box. The opening of the film is something of a competent thinking man’s thriller, but it sure does lose itself in all of its intricacies.

“So if I press this button I get more of these?”

Even the opening act, which moves at a decent pace, feels odd. The Box sets itself up as a creepy film, with a greasy-looking effect over the film – presumably to make the film seem not altogether real. What’s real though was my boredom in hearing the characters talk through the same things over and over again; I know that they were simply discussing the pros and cons of pushing the button, but even their arguments both for and against didn’t go particularly deep.

You see, Cameron Diaz plays a wife who is given this mysterious box by some guy with half a face, and he’s all like, “press it if you want, but on your head be it” – he’s obviously going to go and kill someone when the button is pressed. It’s all rather predictable, until it becomes very confusing. About mid-way through the film, the plot definitely gets in the way, becoming very bogged down in lots of strange things that never really go anywhere.

the box 2
“I’m in a bad film?”

During the final two acts of the film we are treated to bad acting, bad dialogue and even worse CGI. I’m yet to see a film where Cameron Diaz successfully controls proceedings as the leading actor, I just don’t think she really has it in her, and the rest of the cast just don’t really seem bothered by the film – there didn’t seem to be any devotion in the film.

Watching The Box was an odd experience, as I’m not entirely sure what it wanted to be as it swapped between ideas and genres throughout. As a thriller it had something going for it, but not enough for a feature-length movie – and I think that is the problem with the film. The short story the film is based upon would make for a compelling short movie, but at just under 2 hours, I think it ran out of steam and ideas before it hit the half-way mark.


The Box is a poorly thought-out film that, despite starting with a bit of promise, falls flat on its face. The writing isn’t good, the acting poor and the plot gets too convoluted for its own good. If the same director re-made this film with a half-hour long runtime, then it would be much, much better. There simply isn’t enough scope in the premise to carry a whole movie for a couple of hours.



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