So, far some bizarre reason, the other night I watched The Box. I think I was just intrigued because I remember it received such a vicious panning upon its release, and wanted to see for myself if it really was that bad. I can tell you right here and now that, yes, yes, it was that bad.
Cameron Diaz (complete with distracting Southern accent) is a married teacher with a disfigured foot, a ten-year-old son and money trouble. Just so you know, all those facts bar the accent are relevant to the story (such as it is).
For no apparent reason someone leaves a box on the family’s front doorstep. Ooh, how weird! The box is then sort of explained by a visit from a facially disfigured Frank Langella who makes Diaz an offer she can’t refuse: press the button inside the box and you’ll get a million dollars. The only catch being that someone you’ve never met will be killed.
Hmm… what to do, what to do…? I’m sure you can guess what she does. SPOILER ALERT: yes, she presses the button. From here on in Diaz and hubby (a particularly gormless James Marsden) pout and frown their way through proceedings. I’m not sure if I tuned out or if it was genuinely slightly baffling but basically, pressing the button sets off a chain of unfortunate events culminating in a shooting that I wish had happened at least 30 minutes sooner. The explanation for why this offer was made to Diaz in the first place was one of the most disappointing things I’ve seen in a film in ages. I kind of had that Secret Window feeling. You know, where the final reveal happens and you just want to meet the writer/director/actor/producer in person so you can ask them ‘what the fucking fuck, you arse hole?!’! HERE ENDETH THE SPOILER.
I’m not really sure I could identify the worst thing about The Box. Cameron Diaz’s hokey accent? Marsden’s wooden boy routine? The truly ridiculous plot? The incomprehensible explanation of events? I mean, their reasoning for the appearance of the box and the associated $1m offer is one of the most bonkers and totally disengaging reveals in cinematic history. Yeah, that’s a bold statement isn’t it? I stand by it a bajillion percent.
Do you know what? I actually think the worst thing about this film is that it takes itself so seriously. There’s no humour or knowingness about it, it seems to believe it’s actually good. This is a real missed opportunity. If they’d just embraced the kitschness, accepted the lameness and revelled in the all out naffness, they might have pulled it off. It might have even been fun.
As it stands, though The Box ends up feeling like an overly long episode of The Twilight Zone/Outer Limits/Tales of the Unexpected. And I don’t mean that to be complimentary.