Riffing on a Twilight Zone-themed morality tale, writer/director Richard Kelly ("Donnie Darko") sets the table for a three-course meal of supernatural events but serves up an anemic narrative entree instead. Period costumes and set-designs place Richmond, Virginia couple Norma (Cameron Diaz) and her NASA scientist husband Arthur (James Marsden) in a mid '70s era of bad ties and polyester pants. Arthur and Norma receive a dubious opportunity to improve their financial status in the form of a surprise package containing a wooden box with a big red button on top. A promised visit from a horrifically disfigured but impeccably-dressed Arlington Steward (Frank Langella) explains that the couple will receive $1 million dollars if they choose to press the button that will cause the death of another human being that they do not know, somewhere else on the planet. Of course there would be no story if the couple didn't press the button, but the oddly related incidents that follow never add up to a cohesive story. Although based on a short story by television's "Twilight Zone" contributor Richard Matheson, "The Box" is an over-inflated mess that doesn't come up to snuff.
Rated PG-13. 115 mins. (D) (One Star)
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