Richard Kelly makes us a chilling offer with ‘The Box’ trailer

25 Jun

The Box

 June 25th,2009–

While the current summer pickings might be slim, this year is turning out to be a great one for the return of talented directors. After sitting it out on the bench or doing lackluster work, some of my faves have roared back into the game with  really strong entries; Alex Proyas’ Knowing and Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker are two of the best movies of the year, Coppola’s Tetro is getting positive reviews, and Mann’s Public Enemies, which I’m seeing tonight, is hotly anticipated.  Later this year we are getting new films from Terry Gilliam, Martin Scorsese and  James Cameron…and Richard Kelly.

The relatively young Kelly isn’t a name that really belongs among those others, he just hasn’t earned it yet. His Donnie Darko is a mind-bending sci-fi trip that some really hate and some really love. I fall into the ‘really love’ camp, but I also have to admit its the only good work he has done. Kelly also wrote the script for the terrible Tony Scott actioner Domino and  his follow-up film to Darko, the enigmatic and inexplicably awful Southland Tales was one of the biggest messes I have ever seen. Southland wanted to play in the same thematic, Twilight Zone-esque sandbox as Darko, but it had no discipline, no coherent style and a plot so complex it required graphic novels and viral media just to support and explain it.  It was a disaster with everyone. It called Kelly’s talent into question, and many wondered if Donnie Darko was just a fluke.

I think we will get our chance to find out if Kelly is the real deal on October 30th, when the man delivers a creepy story actually based off a Twilight Zone episode, written by sci-fi scribe Richard Matheson(The Haunting of Hill House, I Am Legend). The Box tells the story of a couple, played by Cameron Diaz and James Marsden, who come into posession of a strange antique box housing one solitary red button. A stranger appears in the form of a horribly disfigured Frank Langella, who tells them the terms of the box’s use. If you push the button, two things happen: 1) somewhere in the world someone you never met will die and 2) you will recieve 1 million dollars.

That hook was the entire plot of the original story, but if the trailer is any indicator, Kelly is going back out into the sci-fi field with this one. Marsden’s charcter works at NASA, there are ominous hangar bays that look like they should house alien spaceships, and a dark clandestine organization seems to be behind Langella and his plan. Wow, thats alot to delve into for a rather simple morality play. I hope Kelly can pull it off.

The trailer seems to suggest he is on the right track. Instead of visual information being slung at the screen willy nilly, The Box seems to have a very formalistic approach, with each scene making it’s own thought-out, stylized composition. In the preview, there are alot of faces staring out at towards the audience and characters dwarfed by their surroundings scurrying away from an unknown threat. All of it really reminds me of the style used on Rod Serling’s original series. Take a look at this, and at the pics and tell me that they don’t have a more old fashioned feel to them. I’m intrigued and the cast looks good. Count me in. I would love for Rich to knock this one out of the park.

Trailer is HERE.

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