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Also opening: 'The Box' and 'The Fourth Kind'

What if a stranger offered you $1 million to press a button on a box? Nice work, if you can get it, right?

What if the stranger told you that pushing the button would instantly kill someone?

First, I'd ask if he had another box.

That macabre ethics quandary is the basis of The Box (R), starring Cameron Diaz and James Marsden as the cash-strapped couple offered the deal. Oscar nominee Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon) is the mysterious man making the indecent proposal.

It sounds like a decent Twilight Zone episode (and is, in fact, based on a story by Richard Matheson, who wrote 16 episodes of that show). But that's what people thought about Donnie Darko and look what writer-director Richard Kelly did with that idea. Kelly should find some startling, confusing and possibly brilliant twists to the end. At least we hope so, after his film Southland Tales suggested Donnie Darko was a fluke.

Universal is selling The Fourth Kind (PG-13) like Paranormal Activity 2, with a purported true story of otherworldly events delivered with videocam urgency.

People, there is no Blair Witch. No demon is traipsing around San Diego. And I'm pretty sure that these tales of alien abductions uncovered by an Alaskan psychologist, who state officials reportedly don't have on record, aren't true.

Milla Jovovich stars as the dubious shrink, who videotapes patients in various degrees of alien possession and bad flashbacks. They didn't settle for close encounters of the third kind; they went all the way to the fourth, which we're told is abduction.

There's a first encounter I'll possibly have with The Fourth Kind, and that's on someone else's cable system, so I don't pay for it then, either.

Also opening: 'The Box' and 'The Fourth Kind' 11/04/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 4, 2009 3:30am]

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