Jane Graham (as Georgia MacKenzie)
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The Kovak Box (2006)
27th Nov 08
Timothy Hutton plays best-selling science fiction writer David Norton. Invited to a conference to give a speech in Majorca, Norton is less than thrilled at having to play the celebrity, a status which is inconceivable given his bad hair. When asked to autograph a copy of his first book he makes a snide comment to the elderly gentleman who asks.
And just when Norton didn't think the conference could get any worse, his fiancée Jane (Georgia MacKenzie) takes to splodging herself on the street below their hotel window (Hun, his hair aint THAT bad!)Elsewhere on the island, sulky-looking Silvia takes a phone call (Lucía Jiménez) that prompts her to do the same as Norton's fiancée, only Silvia survives and in doing so, looks even sulkier.
She eventually teams up with Norton and the two of them begin to investigate why it is that a phone call with the tune Gloomy Sunday playing has people throwing themselves to their deaths (understandable if it was an X Factor contestant cover version, but it's not the case). It appears that the elderly gentleman Norton kind of snubbed at the conference is actually a rather naughty scientist by the name of Frank Kovak (David Kelly) who likes to manipulate people the same way he used to do with rats.
Spanish writer/director Daniel Monzón states that he was aiming to make The Kovak Box very Hitchcockean. It’s quite something to aim at given that the portly British director was very much the master of suspense.
Monzón is to be congratulated for managing to sustain the suspense to a commendable level and whilst he falls short of reaching the master’s giddy heights, he does manage to make a rather preposterous and absurd storyline, admittedly his own, captivate and shine. It’s more The Twilight Zone meets The Manchurian Candidate with a smidgeon of Misery in the mix for good measure.
The Kovak Box is a dizzy, slightly bonkers science-fiction thriller that shouldn’t be thought about too hard, but enjoyed in a switch-the-brain-Saturday-night-sort-of-way. The fairly conventional plot is given a few twists and plays harder the further in we get and the pace quickens. It just becomes more and more fun the further in we go.
The movie looks good too, with the fantastic Majorcan setting sparkling under some decent cinematography. The music, courtesy of Roque Baños, is terrifically suspenseful and is as close to Hitchcockean as Monzón’s movie gets. The Kovak Box is a bubbly mix of science fiction, some horror, oodles of drama and the odd chase. It is worth checking out if you fancy something with a little bit more meat on its bones than the average thriller.
Timothy Hutton, as David Norton, all furrowed brow and blank expression, seems oddly suited to the piece. I never had much time for him after his risible performance in The Dark Half but here he is ok. His character seems to plod on with life with little in the way of remorse when his fiancée unexpectedly snuffs it but rises to the occasion when called to run around and suss out what the bloody buggery is going on.
Much better though are Lucía Jiménez as the pouting, sullen looking Silvia, and the seventy-eight-year-old David Kelly, whom I always remember fondly as Albert Riddle in TV’s Robins' Nest and for that nude old men on motorbike flick Waking Ned (1999). Kelly plays the bad guy Frank Kovak, his aged, wizen frame exuding more menace than you would expect from an actor more known for lighter fare.
Jiménez captivated completely and is sorely missed when off screen. She is less mechanical than her screen partner Hutton, her performance feeling more natural, and her character feeling more real and stronger than that from the furrowed browed one.