The Box


Mixed or average reviews - based on 24 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 24
  2. Negative: 6 out of 24

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Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Mark Dinning
    Movie Marmite. Many will be perplexed. Donnie Darko fans should lap it up.
  2. 75
    The Box is a mess, but it's a curiously haunting, intriguing, brain-tickling mess, and it delivers that "Donnie Darko" feeling in truckloads. Or should that be rocketloads?
  3. 75
    This movie kept me involved and intrigued, and for that I'm grateful. I'm beginning to wonder whether, in some situations, absurdity might not be a strength.
  4. 75
    The Box is the work of a visionary flirting with commercialism after having so grandly flouted it with “Southland Tales.’’ He doesn’t give in completely. Several trips to the megaplex might be required for The Box to make complete sense.
  5. 75
    Whenever The Box threatens to crash, Kelly summons up another haunting image or heartfelt, albeit thin, moral inquiry. It’s an unwieldy, ambitious, one-of-a-kind film waiting for a cult to find it.
  6. 70
    The Box turns into a kind of sacrilegious Christian fable; it’s haunted by God, but it delivers a vicious doctrine. At the risk of impoliteness, I would suggest that Kelly drop his reliance on religio-mystico-eschatological humbug and embrace, in realistic terms, the fantastic possibilities in ordinary acts of murder, fear, heroism, and death. If he pulls himself together, he could be the next Hitchcock.
  7. 70
    For his third feature, Richard Kelly delivers neither a triumph (like his first, Donnie Darko) nor a travesty (like his second, Southland Tales) but a sure-handed genre piece that manages to wrap up before its plot mushrooms completely out of control.
  8. 63
    Despite its flaws, The Box remains intriguing; however, as its mysteries are solved, the prevailing sense is one of frustration rather than satisfaction. That makes The Box worthy of the dubious label of "an interesting failure."
  9. 60
    The revelation of the film's mystery just barely makes sense. Yet, we dismiss it as an extended MacGuffin, and thus can delight in the film's devious turns.
  10. Reviewed by: Jordan Mintzer
    Kelly's trademark mix of sci-fi, surrealism and suburbia occasionally entertains.
  11. 50
    What a shame that Kelly's pacing doesn't run as fast as his imagination. Instead of sweeping you along, The Box just sits there like something unclaimed at lost and found. Damaged goods.
  12. Sincere and sinister and inevitably ambitious, a serious work that insists on its own seriousness even when it edges toward the preposterous.
  13. 50
    Kelly is devoted to telling his stories visually -- except when he's not. And the second half of The Box, unfortunately, underscores everything Kelly, as a filmmaker, wants to be and just can't.
  14. Reviewed by: John Swansburg
    The Box plays like "The Pardoner's Tale" as retold by the conspiracy theorist haunting your neighborhood Radio Shack.
  15. It's no coincidence that The Box plays like the world's murkiest Twilight Zone episode. It's loosely based on ''Button, Button,'' a short story by Richard Matheson, who wrote some of the series' greatest scripts.
  16. An artistic fiasco that cuts across genre lines and all logic to become, perhaps, an instant midnight movie.
  17. "Southland Tales" was a soporific mess, and while The Box (based on material by novelist Richard Matheson) is superior by a certain margin, Kelly derails his newfound discipline with the usual shimmering portals and hazy notions of apocalyptic sacrifice.
  18. 40
    It's a mess and it might cost him some career freedom, but at least Kelly hasn't cashed in his trademark narrative complexity for Hollywood pap.
  19. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    The characters in The Box are like cardboard cutouts: Some have "foolish victim" labeled on them, and others fall into the category of absurdly creepy villain.
  20. The pacing throughout is languid. Your eye becomes fixated on the hideous 70s wallpaper behind them. If only the story's interstellar narrative developments had the intensity of that wallpaper. Rod Serling might've gotten a great hour out of it (the story, that is, not the wallpaper). It simply is not two hours' worth, no matter how many quantum leaps into the unknown Kelly takes.
  21. What the plot doesn't decimate, the film's slower-than-a-clogged-drain pacing does. Sadly, this is one box that's just not worth picking up off the porch, much less opening, not even for a million dollars.
  22. 30
    The new Richard Kelly movie is basically a sock of coal for Christmas.
  23. 25
    After a slightly promising start, this great-looking but ultimately deeply confusing and unscary sci-fi/horror opus turns into a quite boring rehash of M. Night Shyamalan's post-"Signs" films.
  24. The Box is its own kind of awful, a disconnected mess that never finds its reason for being.
User Score

Generally unfavorable reviews- based on 196 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 52
  2. Negative: 13 out of 52
  1. Mar 20, 2011
    This movie as not as bad as people make it out to be. I'll admit, there are some vaguely explained moments, unconvincing acting (thank youThis movie as not as bad as people make it out to be. I'll admit, there are some vaguely explained moments, unconvincing acting (thank you Cameron Diaz), an ending that leaves you unsatisfied, and some plot points that aren't tied together.
    But for everything that is isn't, it's really good. It's creepy. It's thought provoking, and it achieves that purpose very well. If you're reading this review, you know the plot. If you don't know the plot, don't look it up; I feel like people who went into this movie expecting something came out the most unsatisfied. I bought my copy for around 4 bucks and it was very worth it.

    -If you go into this movie with an open mind, you'll leave more satisfied and intrigued than not.
    -If you enjoyed Donnie Darko, you'll enjoy this.
    -If you're looking for something cheap, creepy, and thrilling, grab this.
    -If you like twists and ambiguity, grab this.

    -If you're looking for a blood and guts horror, look elsewhere.
    -If you enjoyed Saw, you prob won't like this.
    -If you enjoyed From Paris with Love, you prob won't like this.
    -If you like a plot that's easy to follow, you prob won't like this.
    Full Review »
  2. Feb 24, 2013
    Wonderfully weird and imaginative. This is a sci-fi cult classic that fell under the radar, but it is a really great film. I heard a lot ofWonderfully weird and imaginative. This is a sci-fi cult classic that fell under the radar, but it is a really great film. I heard a lot of people bash this thing, but this movie is about much more than a box and a button. If you're not a sci-fi fan and not used to this type of film, it might be a bit confusing, but stay with it. I think it's well worth it. Full Review »
  3. Apr 28, 2012
    What starts off as a promising film to some extent slowly but surely begins to unravel itself from that decently tied knot after the firstWhat starts off as a promising film to some extent slowly but surely begins to unravel itself from that decently tied knot after the first thirty minutes. After that, it's all downhill for 'The Box'. While the premise itself is somewhat interesting (based on a 1970 short story titled "Button Button") the screenplay fails to maximise whatever potential the story might have had, instead decides to capitalize on a plot line that is incredibly far-fetched and never makes perfect sense. Regardless, I'm sure *some* fans of the psychological thriller genre will enjoy. Full Review »