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Richard Matheson: In His Own Words - An Intimate Interview with a Sci-Fi Legend
Video: Widescreen 2.35:1 Color (Anamorphic)
Audio: English: Dolby Digital 5.1 [CC]
Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
French: Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
Run Time: 116 min
Synopsis from DVD Cover:
Push a red button on a little black box, get a million bucks cash. Just like that, all of Norma (Diaz) and Arthur Lewis's (Marsden) financial problems will be over. But there's a catch, according to the strange visitor (Lagella) who placed the box on the couple's doorstep. Someone, somewhere - someone they don't know - will die.
Gotta say, I was both intrigued and a bit wary of "The Box" when I heard about it, as director Richard Kelly gave me one of my absolute favorite films, "Donnie Darko," and I was pretty sure nothing could top that. Well, I was right, but "The Box" is still an interesting movie that, despite an almost universal panning by the critics during its theater run, deserves to find an audience that will appreciate it on DVD.
Based on a short story by Richard Matheson called "Button, Button," the basic premise here is one of those "What Would You Do?" questions you might read off a card as a conversation starter-what would you do for one million dollars? Norma (Cameron Diaz) and Arthur (James Marsden) get to figure that out for real when the classic hypothetical arrives at their door in the form of a mysterious box, followed by the equally mysterious and super creepy Arlington Steward (Frank Langella). They're told that pushing the red button in the box will grant them some major bucks, but that somewhere, someone will die as a result. Of course they push it, but the consequences they thought would be anonymous turn out to be a lot more than they expected.
Not jut a short story, this was also an episode of "The Twilight Zone," and this big screen version elaborates on the original premise (and names) and adds in a whole bunch of other stuff, though if it had kept its scale smaller and stayed focused on its central dilemma, it would have fared better. Don't go in to this thinking there's some reasonable explanation for how and why all the crazy things are happening, because it's all about ideologies and concepts and creative ways to shoot scenes. The time period feels authentic, and all the players manage to convey believability in the face of incredulousness, but the mid-section of the story, which tries to offer too much explanation, begins to bog down the pace and take things from quirky to confusing. What I liked, though, is that just like "Darko," this doesn't conform into any genre, and though it's nowhere near as good as that film, at least it tries to do something different.
Unfortunately, the DVD itself doesn't try to do anything, because there are no Special Features. I hear there are a few choices if you have the Blu-ray, like a decent commentary, but that even those are sparse.
While it's most definitely flawed, and by no means is it everyone's cup of tea, at least Writer/Director Richard Kelly continues to create movies to make us think that remain indefinable in a world that demands categories.