He took forever on his follow-up film, Southland Tales. In the meantime, he wrote the script to Domino (a stylized, though dull film). When Southland Tales finally made it to theaters in the fall of 2007, I was excited enough to see it on opening weekend. Though it had some interesting moments, I thought the film was the biggest slap in the face that any director could do to his fans or to his studio financiers. The film is quite simply, a colossal mess. Nonsensical, outlandish, expensive, uninspiring, and repeating some of the same themes that Darko touched on (namely some kind of strange metaphysical occurrence that's not really explained). Many reviews ripped apart this film, particularly with the over-abundance of former Saturday Night Live has-beens. There was one outrageously hilarious scene, though: an SUV coming alive after a thunderbolt struck it, then proceeding to mount and mate another SUV. I believe that this was the first time any movie featured auto-erotica. Straight from the demented mind of Richard Kelly!
I walked out of the theaters wondering, "What the fuck was that?!?" Was Kelly giving it to the man? Was his response to the way his baby Donnie Darko was dumped in theaters after 9/11 (after debuting at the Sundance Film Festival much earlier in the year) to make an expensive, nonsensical film? Does he even want a long career in Hollywood? If he and I were friends, I would have a serious talk with him. I'd say, "Look, dude, I know you got some fucked up ideas, okay? And you just want people to pay good money to see some of this weird shit floating through the cosmos of your brilliant mind, but there's nothing wrong with a good story or making the kind of film that draws an audience. There's a reason why people flocked to Spielberg!" I want to see Richard Kelly have a long career as a director in Hollywood...but making expensive bombs is not the way to do it. Better to make a smaller film that focuses on character development. Smaller is good. Prove yourself with that.
Because of the rip-off that Southland Tales was, I was very hesitant to pay good money to see The Box in theaters. I could wait until DVD. I'm glad that I did. The movie is creepy and gets under your skin like some kind of nasty parasite. That's not saying that its a bad movie, but actually, a surprisingly good one. Certainly more downscale than Southland Tales. In fact, The Box has a very M. Night Shyamalan vibe to it. This is the movie that Shyamalan's The Happening aspired to be. Both films give you the major creeps while watching it, but when both films end, The Box had a brilliant one while The Happening did not. Its interesting to note that Richard Kelly does M. Night Shyamalan better than Shyamalan does!
If you have not seen The Box, please do not read this post after the picture below. It contains spoilers and I don't want to spoil the ending of the film for you. In fact, I would recommend that you watch this film for yourself...then come back and read this blog post. The ending makes The Box one of the most conversation-worthy films I've seen in the past year. I wanted to talk to someone about it after watching it (well, after shaking the willies off of me first!). Even if you think this film might not interest you, please do not deny yourself the chance to get your mind blown by the profound nature of this film...and reading any further will deny you that opportunity. Consider yourself warned!