Box art for The Box

The Box

drama, horror, sci-fi & fantasy, thrillers

What if someone gave you a box containing a button that, if pushed, would bring you a million dollarsbut simultaneously take the life of someone you don't know?

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

PAUSE for kids age 13
2 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
Positive messages
0 out of 5
Positive role models
0 out of 5
2 out of 5
3 out of 5

Creepy thriller too confusing for kids, awful for adults.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that this Cameron Diaz thriller from the director of Donnie Darko is based on a macabre premise: that human beings would rather win money than protect a stranger's life. It's too confusing and intense for tweens and young teens, and, in addition to the cloud of violence hovering over the entire movie, there are several disturbing images, including an upsetting disfigurement; two women being killed at close range; people who have eerie, unexpected nosebleeds; a fatal car accident; and gun violence. The swearing is fairly mild (one use of "s--t" is as strong as it gets), the sexuality is limited to the main couple kissing passionately and embracing, and the drinking is mostly social and done by adults. Still, most kids won't want to bother figuring out the movie's dark themes and puzzling plot.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about what the movie's experiment says about human nature. Is money more important than a stranger's life?
  • What would have you done given the same choice? Was what happened after the characters "hit the button" predictable?
  • Do movies have to be believable or relatable to be entertaining?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    reviews counted: 30
    see all The Box reviews
  • Audience


Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: I think that Richard Kelly, from one film to the next, has gone in some very interesting and sometimes puzzling directions.

- A.O. Scott, At the Movies, Monday, November 9, 2009

Rotten: Kelly treats what is essentially a Stanford University psychology experiment with inflated somberness.

- Ann Hornaday, Washington Post, Saturday, September 24, 2011

Rotten: Have you ever actually tried watching paint dry? A sloth walk? Grass grow? You can have all the thrills with none of the chills courtesy of The Box, the painfully sluggish new sci-fi morality play from Donnie Darko creator Richard Kelly.

- Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times, Thursday, November 5, 2009

Audience Reviews

4 stars

Richard Kelly's "The Box" is just as deep, dark, surreal, emotional and mesmerizing as his previous films. His ode to 1970's paranoia, science-fiction and life beyond the tangible is at once extremely mysterious and bracingly real (regardless of it's faux dialogue and slightly exaggerated genre acting; all intentional of course). This is Kelly's most personal film and that accounts for the clearly visible love he has placed in the material and his characters. "The Box" is an ode to the unknown, whatever you consider that to be. This is certainly a cathartic experience if you are willing to decode, "The Box".

- stevenecarrier, Sunday, November 14, 2010

4 stars

I consider this Richard Kelly redeeming himself after the debacle with Southland Tales. He may not have fully atoned for that sin, but I once again have genuinely favorable feelings about him. I've always respected him though, even with the aformentioned screw up. As far as the basic plot goes, this is probably the most straightforward thing Kelly has done, and as a result is also his most accessible film. It's an adaptation of a short story which in turn spawned an episode of the 80s era Twilight Zone. I can't remember if I've read the story, but I've seen the TV episode. Now, given that the Short story is just that, and that the episode was between 30-60 mins. ( I can't remember), it's obvious that this film is loaded with extra materiial given that it's run time is just under two hours. I refuse to call this extra stuff "filler" though, as that term connotates negativity. The extra stuff here is cool. I don't quite get it all, but I get the general idea. The beginning and end are straightforward morality tales while the middle veers off into its own weird thing, but hey, this is a Richard Kelly film, and while watching it, it's undeniable that he and not someone else is behind it all. This is a sci-fi thriller, and not actually a horror film, but this is really creepy if not down right scary at times. There is a really great sense of tone, mood, and atmosphere created here that makes even ordinary and mundane places and things unsettling. Because of that, the stuff that's supposed to be creepy is now even moreso. Kelly should be applauded for knowing these things. It's part of why the film works. He also knows what aesthetic choices (as far as leneral looks, sets, and art direction) look groovy too. I was really digging the 70s decorum. The music is great too. don't listen to Arcade Fire, but some of their members did the music, and it rocks. It's very Bernard Herrmann-esque, which is very high praise and only benefits the film more. I'm not sure why people didn't get into this all that much. Perhaps Southland Tales had a role to play? Or Maybe just How Kelly's films are in general? That's unfortunate though. I admit that I was a bit hesitant to see this, but I came out very surprised and pleased. Even though it is weird and creepy and out there, this has a high amount of mainstream appeal, so go give it a shot. Oh yeah, the acting's fantastic too. Marsden is good, Diaz gives a strong performance, and Langella is the man. I'm kind of thinking that in limited circles, his character will become a cult favorite in years to come. He's creepy as shit, has a great and unforgettable look (gotta love the FX), and is just very enjoyable to watch. I really liked this after one viewing. I plan on seeing it again and am kind of thinking that I may end up loving it. Congrats Kelly, even though I never fully gave up on you, you have restored what faith I had lost (and I wouldn't call myself a fanboy to begin with, either).

- cosmo313, Friday, October 29, 2010

2 stars

Lets not judge the movie by its intellectual storyline.Its just a cult movie and weirdness of it doesnt prove that director could reach to higher degree.everyone has some bizarre ideas for making a cult movie.But most important factor is how to make them acceptable.Box cinematically is a weak movie,bad in directing and acting and character development.unlike David Lynch's movies there is no attraction here.

- Alireza64ir, Wednesday, September 15, 2010