New on Blu-ray: The Box

New on Blu-ray: The Box

There’s a theory that says one must make the choice that benefits the many rather than just one or a few (utilitarianism). It is this same law that is at the centre of The Box. Norma (Cameron Diaz) and Arthur Lewis (James Marsden) are a suburban couple with a young child. One day a simple […]

There’s a theory that says one must make the choice that benefits the many rather than just one or a few (utilitarianism). It is this same law that is at the centre of The Box.

Norma (Cameron Diaz) and Arthur Lewis (James Marsden) are a suburban couple with a young child. One day a simple wooden box with fatal and irrevocable consequences is left on their doorstep. A mysterious stranger (Frank Langella) informs them that pushing the button in the box will give the possessor $1 million, but pressing this button will simultaneously cause the death of another human being somewhere in the world – someone they don’t know. With just 24 hours to decide, Norma and Arthur find themselves in the cross-hairs of a startling moral dilemma and must face the true nature of their humanity.

It’s interesting that filmmakers would set the narrative in the 1970’s, choosing to remain true to the period of Richard Matheson’s source material rather than modernize the tale. They do a wonderful job in recreating the look of the decade and the heart of the story is still accessible, but it’s a curious choice nonetheless.

The question underlying the uttered one – would you kill a stranger for a million dollars? – is an intriguing one that is played by people in circles and at parties all the time. Only the fact that the world would benefit from the correct choice is usually more obvious than it is in the movie.

Though Marsden has swum in the superhero pool, he’s always been a great home grown boy next door. His sincerity is never in question. On the other hand, I wonder if it was necessary for Diaz to have an accent and found it somewhat amusing when she would forget her character had a limp.

In the end, the idea takes a different direction than expected and while parts of it are good, most are not.

Special features include: commentary by director Richard Kelly; “The Box: Grounded in Reality,” a featurette about how Kelly’s own experiences helped him adapt the short story; music video prequels; a comprehensive look at the visual effects; “Richard Matheson: In His Own Words”; and digital and DVD copies of the film.