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Overall Rating

Awesome: 12.5%
Worth A Look: 12.5%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap75%

1 review, 2 user ratings

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Four Boxes
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by Jay Seaver

"'Four Boxes' does not get four stars."
1 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2009 SXSW FILM FESTIVAL: If you hang on through the end of "Four Boxes", everything will make sense. Yes, even the "nobody on earth actually talks like that" dialogue. That doesn't mean that you should hang on to the end, unfortunately, because not only doesn't explaining everything make it good, but there's a whole new bunch of dumb at the end.

Trevor (Justin Kirk) and Rob (Sam Rosen) have a small business where they purchase and resell the property of people who die without heirs. Their latest find is a bizarre mess, with boxes of junk, crime scene tape from where the deceased's wife hanged herself six months earlier. They find a sticky note near the computer for, which Rob says started out as a camgirl site, but the original girl moved out while leaving the cameras live. The new resident is creepy and sinister, and Trevor soon becomes obsessed with the site. As if that wasn't enough, Rob's fiancee Amber (Terryn Westbrook) soon joins them, and the fact that she used to be Trevor's girlfriend makes things uncomfortable.

Watching TV is not the most exciting thing to have your characters doing in a movie. Especially when the program in question is grainy webcam video, and the picture, when blown up to movie-screen size, becomes vague compression-artifcated blobs. Maybe seeing the movie on video rather than the big screen will help with that, but that still leaves the characters not doing much of anything for a good deal of the running time.

What they do, when are more active, is talk, and it's a really annoying way of speaking, peppered with internet abbreviations and other argot that, if one heard it in real life, would make one wonder if the speaker was a real person or an android with a really bad slang simulation package. It's distracting, and even when decoded, isn't really interesting.

And then there's the end of the movie, which is something of a primer on the right and wrong way to handle plot twists. There's the good variety of twist, which has had seeds planted throughout the film and has the audience going "Aha! Right!" as each bit is revealed. The one in Four Boxes isn't great, but it's pretty competent, and has been hiding in plain sight all along. Then there's the one which is more or less entirely random, a needless "gotcha!" moment to give the audience one last jolt even if it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Four Boxes has one of those, too, and it's among the stupidest I've ever seen - and then, to make matters worse, it takes a seeming eternity to play out.

The cast is fine, within the boundaries of what the script asks of them. The movie is rather fatally flawed, though, by a story that relies so heavily on final-act revelations but makes getting to that final act a chore, one exacerbated by the way the movie looks - the production values (standard-definition video, mostly, with jaggies visible even in the non-webcast scenes) just aren't up to snuff for theatrical exhibition, and if it's on video, you can turn it off.

Which, sadly, is what I'd recommend. There may be a good idea in here, but the movie itself is a poor way of expressing it.

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originally posted: 03/19/09 03:07:11
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2009 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Seattle International Film Festival For more in the 2009 Seattle International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

7/22/11 makeswork This movie struck me as much smarter and more engaging than you're giving it credit for. 4 stars
3/16/11 Harry Its suprising to me how many fakes call themselves "movie critics" this flik exposes them 5 stars
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  N/A (R)
  DVD: 12-Oct-2010



Directed by
  Wyatt McDill

Written by
  Wyatt McDill

  Justin Kirk
  Terryn Westbrook
  Sam Rosen

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