...and I don't really see any deliberate nods to De Palma. I loved the film-- I was one who was impressed with Richard Kelly's Southland Tales, which I felt displayed the mark of a brilliant filmmaker, even if it wasn't a complete success. I have never seen Donnie Darko, even though I am aware that by all accounts, that is the one I need to see (several people have told me not to start with the director's cut, as they feel that Kelly didn't know a good thing when he had it). After seeing The Box, I am convinced that Kelly is a major filmmaker, and will see Donnie Darko as soon as possible. But it is kind of interesting that most people seem to be disappointed with Kelly's two most recent films, and are getting ready to write him off after making a film they loved so much, while I have never seen that first film, and have been very impressed with his recent work.
The thing that strikes me as most De Palma-ish about The Box is the Herrmann-esque music that dominates from start-to-finish. This, combined with Kelly's success at making The Box seem in every way like it was actually made in the 1970s, gave me a strong feeling of De Palma's Sisters. Alternately, the music score by Arcade Fire also brought to mind John Williams' work on De Palma's The Fury, and Ennio Morricone's work on De Palma's Mission To Mars, with its serene sense of inevitable mourning. Yet I never felt these were direct homages-- simply that they seemed to share a certain sensibility (although, --SPOILER ALERT--, Mars ultimately plays a huge part in The Box, so who knows). With The Box, Kelly has taken a brief idea and expanded it with his sense of paranoia in creepy and unexpected ways that I found fascinating. Between Southland Tales and this new movie, Kelly seems to be building toward some sort of perfect beast-- something that will carry his apocalyptic, Twilight Zone-tinged sprawls to a level of cinematic beauty and brilliance. Which means that I am very much looking forward to seeing what he does next.
On a side note, the box's red button under the gleaming dome recalls Kubrick's HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey, and there was one point as characters are going through a library maze where I got a creepy flashback from Kubrick's The Shining.