The Box is a drama-thriller film directed by Sasha Sibley and starring Graham Jenkins, Michelle Bernard and Andrew Ableson, alongside other cast members.
Tyler Stevens is like any other struggling actor out there. He’s 25 and running out of options to make his career lift-off. He networks, goes to auditions and takes up work whenever he isn’t auditioning. But things just don’t seem to be working out. Later on, he starts getting recurring dreams of being trapped in a house whose doors and windows are just mirrors. Is he able to break free from these dreams or does he get stuck in them?
The Box reminded me of those Escape Room movies but on a lower budget. However, it’s still pretty thrilling to watch. If you can get over the initial low-budget production feels, then the film does a pretty good job at building tension and making us wonder what actually is going on in Tyler’s life.
For the most part, The Box tries to focus on Tyler’s degrading sanity due to his obsessing with his work or lack thereof. The toll his mental health takes due to him not making it big in Hollywood is a telling experience for a lot of people in the profession. The film brings this forward pretty well, and you do feel there’s a certain amount of claustrophobia when you go through Tyler’s life and how he lives it.
Additionally, The Box jumps between different timelines not really giving us an idea as to when these different moments are in Tyler’s life. You get a handle on things after a while, but it takes some time to understand what is actually going on and what happens when. It can get a bit confusing, so hold your horses and sit through the film to understand how it all comes together.
There’s a lot of contexts added to the film in terms of Tyler’s thoughts and actions with the help of a voiceover. However, the audience is not made privy to who this voiceover is; at one point, we are sometimes told that it’s not this person that we think is the guy behind the voice. It’s a good way to add some information to this slow psychological thriller and fills in a lot of gaps when you’re left to grasp at straws.
Additionally, The Box also adds some truly heartfelt moments in the mix that make you sympathise with Tyler, his dream and why he started all of this in the first place. Furthermore, whatever Tyler dreams feel like his fears and everything he is afraid of. He finds safety and comfort as well as the reasons that make him afraid while in his dreams. There are a few monologues as well that are very heavy on the feels.
The only noteworthy performance that the film gives us is of Graham Jenkins as Tyler. He’s great in the role of the haunted protagonist whose life choices have pushed him over the edge. How far will you go to realise your dreams? That’s what Jenkins’s character asks and he does a commendable job of taking this film further, almost alone.
Summing up: The Box
In spite of all of this, however, The Box is slow and tedious after a while. You feel like skipping through a lot of what you see on-screen. The ending is interesting so that you don’t feel like you’ve been cheated, but I am not sure whether it’ll be enough to keep everyone invested throughout. The story, however, definitely does make you think and there are moments that shine bright.
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