What would you do if you were told that you could receive a payment of $1 million, and to receive it all you had to do was press the button in front of you.
The only catch is that when you press the button, someone in the world whom you do not know will die. Would you press the button?
This is the predicament that one family is faced with in Gene Kelly's latest mystery-movie, "The Box."
When Norma and Arthur Lewis are awoken by the ring of their doorbell, they open the door to find a small box, inside of which is a button and a card telling them that Mr. Steward will meet with them at 5 p.m. When the meeting occurs, he then tells them about the choice described above, and the film rotates around their choice its consequences.
Cameron Diaz, James Marsden and Frank Langella are the driving forces of this peculiar motion picture. They all give convincing performances, but unfortunately they were not enough to save this film from self-destruction.
In Kelly's other films, "Donnie Darko" and "Southland Tales," the biggest events of the movie were left off the screen, yet from the scenes before and after, viewers are able to put the pieces together and solve the mystery. This is not the case with The Box. There were large chunks of footage that were cut from the final film and what was shown was, at points, completely unrelated and confusing. Because of this, the mystery can never fully be solved because crucial facts and hints are not given.
I went into the theater thinking that this was going to be a thriller about the choice made by the family and how that choice plays out. While this generally is what the film is about, I was not expecting the movie to be nearly two hours of supernatural twists and turns. I found this confusing and distracting at times, yet at others those in the theater with me were literally on the edge of their seat wondering what was coming next.
For me at least, I spent most of my time confused and distracted. There were literally long stretches of time where I was so caught up in unraveling the mystery of what was going on that I was completely uninterested when it seemed that viewers were supposed to be pulled in.
All in all, I would highly recommend this movie if you enjoy sci-fi flicks. Other than that, I would wait for the director's cut DVD to come out, at which point hopefully there will be some commentary in which Kelly will be able to shine some light on the confusing segments. Two stars out of five.