THE BOX (Richard Kelly)
The first 20 minutes of Richard Kelly's THE BOX is quite intriguing; the premise is worth unraveling- what if you are given the option to acquire 1 million dollars, tax free in exchange that someone, somewhere whom you do not know- will die? Will you take the offer?
After that, the plot spirals into a neverending maze of vague Sci-Fi references, particularly alien invasion and government conspiracies. I wanted to like the film, really but the presence of too much plot elements is just too hard for one sitting. Unlike similar mind-bending philosophical SciFi films such as INCEPTION and SPHERE, THE BOX fails to elicit even the smallest hint of empathy for its main characters, played by Diaz and Marsden. The plot is so preposterous you'd think Shyamalan somehow co-directed it. INCEPTION had stunning visuals and Ellen Page as eye-candy, whereas SPHERE had a kickass open-ended conclusion; THE BOX had neither.
For the exciting opening mentioned above, it could be credited to Richard Matheson who wrote the original source material, a short story entitled "Button, Button". Director Richard Kelly then expands it into a near-two hour psycho-philosophical debate about nothing.
For what it's worth, the references to Sartre's philosophy on free will and the bit about man's morality are decent points of reference for a full-length film; however, Kelly failed to use those elements to create a cohesive, igniting story that does not alienate the viewers. Instead of being terrified, I was actually annoyed with the youngster who makes fun of Diaz's disability, and the same goes for the hordes of zombie-esque creatures fresh out of a George A. Romero film. The feeling invoked by such characters seemed an indirect ripoff from that secret society depicted in Kubrick's EYES WIDE SHUT.