Comic-Con: Thoughts on Richard Kelly's The Box Footage
by Alex Billington
July 27, 2009
One thing from Comic-Con that I really want to talk about is the presentation for Richard Kelly's The Box during the Warner Brothers panel on Friday morning. In terms of the Q&A session, it wasn't that exciting, and Cameron Diaz actually revealed a huge spoiler for the movie right on stage (which we're not going to repeat), but what I was most intrigued by was the footage. We all saw the trailer back in June, and there is some weird stuff going on it, but you just wait, that's only the tip of the iceberg. Kelly brought a new sizzle reel cut just for Comic-Con and it was pretty fascinating and I'd like to get into it more because of that.
There is a small spoiler ahead, so if you want to stay completely fresh on this, I'd suggest you stop reading. But I can assure you that what occurred in the first part of this footage did not ruin anything for me, but instead only made me vastly more curious and interested in the movie. As you probably know, The Box is based on Richard Matheson's short story "Button, Button" about a button that, when pressed, gives the owner(s) a large sum of money, while at the same time killing someone that they don't know. But of course, this is Richard Kelly, and he is going to take that story a lot farther than just that. And he certainly does.
In the trailer, we see Cameron Diaz receive the box from a disfigured Frank Langella. Then in the next scene, we see her and James Marsden sitting at the table looking at it, and Marsden cautiously asking her what they should do. Without any hesitation, Diaz just slams her hand down on it - and presses the button. Just like that. I gasped in Hall H when that happened. In any other movie (meaning, a non-Richard Kelly movie) that scene would've played out with plenty deliberation and discussion about the consequences. But in The Box, that's not what it's about. And everything starts to spin out of control from that point on.
From there we're shown even crazier glimpse of more bizarre sci-fi things and trippy ideas that only someone like Richard Kelly could've thought up. For example, near the end of the trailer, we see some weird water-like square tubes extending up from the ground in a giant room (see the photo below). In the footage we saw, there's a lot more interaction with this "watery" substance, or whatever it is. At one point, we even see James Marsden floating in a "box of water" above Cameron Diaz in her bed, then that box bursts and the water flows out into the room and Marsden falls out of it as well. Uh, what the hell was that all about?
Kelly said that his breakthrough moment working on the script came when he decided to set the movie in 1976 and tie it to "very specific circumstances that happened at NASA in Virginia in '76." I'm almost afraid to do some research on that time period because I feel like it could give away too much and I'd rather be surprised. But in the footage we saw, and in the trailer, you can notice glimpses of scenes set in hangars and other areas that are NASA related. James Marsden's character even works at NASA (that was confirmed a while back). I think that's enough evidence to prove that this might have something to do with space?
I won't get too much more into it besides what I've said so far (nor will I tell you what Cameron Diaz said) because I want to go in to see this and be as blown away by everything that occurs as I was the first time I watched Donnie Darko. Although this is being marketed by Warner Brothers as a much more mainstream movie, I have a feeling that it could turn out to be a very intricate and intimate movie like Donnie Darko as well, taking Kelly back to his "roots" in a sense. Either way, the footage Kelly decided to show at Comic-Con was just the right amount to make me even more interested than I already was. Bring on The Box!