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There’s Something in The Box!

The trailer for The Box hit the internet yesterday and I’m… not really impressed. From what looks like an attempt to turn a moral quandary (would you take an action that would kill a stranger for a huge sum of money?) into a brainless action movie to the use of the Saw theme (“Hello Zepp”) as an overture at the end of the movie, it’s striking all the wrong notes. On the other hand, I’m quite taken with what looks to be a sixties-style design, so who knows? Director Richard Kelly can be really good (Donnie Darko) or really terrible (Southland Tales). Pending reviews, this is probably one to rent. Since the fad of remaking has spread to remaking episodes of old television shows, I’m wondering if there are any other anthology episodes that warrant a remake?

"So, if I push the button, I get $1 million... and an Oscar nomination?"

"So, if I push the button, I get $1 million... and an Oscar nomination?"

For those who don’t know, The Box is a remake of a Twilight Zone episode (based on a Robert Matheson story) that was already remade once in the eighties. A mysterious stranger (here played by Frank Langella, with facial scars that may cause plot complications) shows up on the doorstep of a young suburban couple (here played by Cameron Diaz and James Marsden) with an offer: push a button inside a cardboard box and two things will happen – they will receive a huge windfall of money; and someone they don’t know will die. It’s a simple premise and a great moral quandary. However, the movie looks like it eschews the ethical discussions and jumps straight for the conspiracy or action sequences.

Anyway, The Box is probably one of the most fondly remembered Twilight Zone episodes – both of the versions so far feature different twist endings (spoilers ahoy!), and it’s safe to imagine that this version will feature its own twist on the tale. I’ll wait to read reviews before I make up my mind on seeing it.

Still, there are countless other fondly remembered anthology episodes we’d like to see get the big screen treatment. Everyone is familiar with The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street, a classic Twilight Zone episode in which a small suburb turns on itself in the grip of fear during a blackout. It’s filtered through our pop consciousness and its prescient theme (than man is the real monster) seems as relevent now as ever. So, why not go back to the source and give the story the big screen treatment? You’d attract a great cast for a universal story that seems even more pertinent in an era when trust is a rare commodity.

I don't know what took the monsters so long, it's well signposted...

I don't know what took the monsters so long, it's well signposted...

How about And When The Sky Was Opened, a surreal journey through the minds of three astronauts? In the hands of a director and writer with suitable visual flair, this mind-trip could really work in today’s day and age – the episode still seems a little bit ahead of its time. Then there’s Night Call, where a lonely old lady receives a series of strange and bizarre phone calls, which resembles many an old urban legend. It could be one of those ghost movies you see all-too-rarely in the midst of the gore and the carnage that passes for horror these days. And I think that Nightmare at 20,000 Feet never gets old (say it with me “there’s… something… on… the wing!”), and a gremlin movie could fit will with the reemergence of the creature feature. Of course, no one could top Shatner in the lead.

Still my personal favourite candidate for a Twilight Zone movie is Nothing in The Dark, following an old lady who has barracaded herself in her apartment, afraid to venture outside because he fears death is waiting for her. She takes in a wounded police officer and the two of them wait for the Grim Reaper together. It’s a very sweet story with an ending that isn’t so much a twist as an inevitable conclusion, but it works well in the hands of two capable actors (including Robert Redford). It could work today, offering a quiet, contemplative drama – though I’m not sure anyone would make it.

There really are countless classic episodes from the Twilight Zone, and other similar series (such as The Outer Limits), which will – in fairness to those remaking the movies – still seem relatively fresh to modern viewers as there’s now a generational gap between us and the original shows. When The Box was first announced, it seemed like a dream come true and a fond callback to the original Twilight Zone. After seeing the trailer, I’m not so sure, but I still believe that it could work.

What about you guys, any Twilight Zone classics you’d like to see remade?
The Box is a remake of a classic Twilight Zone episode directed by Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko, Southland Tales) and stars James Marsden (the X-Men trilogy, Hairspray), Cameron Diaz (The Mask, There’s Something About Mary) and Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon, Superman Returns). It is released on the 30th October 2009 in the United States, but us Irish will have to wait until 4th December 2009 to see it.

One Response

  1. […] I’m still in line this Friday. When it comes to movies I’m less sure about – The Box is a prime example this year – reviews may sway me to catch it in the cinema or wait for home media. Still, primarily, I […]

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