Welcome back to my “Tales from the Darkside” Marathon! Humans are naturally inquisitive. When we’re presented with presents or unopened packages, we almost always want to know what’s inside. But today’s tale features a package that maybe should’ve stay unopened. This is “Do Not Open This Box.”
Charles Pennywell is an inventor who lives with Ruth, his greedy, nagging wife. One day, a box arrives in the mail with the words “Do Not Open This Box” embedded on it. Naturally, Ruth is intrigued and opens it despite Charles’ protests, only to find it empty. They are paid a visit by the postman who delivered the box, and he willingly gives them a reward to retrieve it for him unopened. Ruth jumps at the chance, but the postman soon grows impatient and claims that there will be Hell to pay if they don’t return it to him. Will the couple heed his warning, or has Ruth already made a terrible mistake by opening the box?
This episode was directed by actress Jodie Foster, and I thought she did a pretty good job here. The plot moves at a good pace and it takes place entirely in a basement to set the mood. However, the plot is also pretty predictable once it gets going, and I could easily guess what the twist would be as well. That doesn’t make this a bad episode, far from it, but it’s essentially a type of karmic story that I know I’ve seen before.
The three main actors here did a fine job with what they were given. Charles was likable and you felt bad for him for being constantly put down by his wife. The postman had a friendly air about him, but it made the impact stick all the more when he had to get serious. Of course, Ruth is as shrewish as you’d expect, and you’re definitely meant to not like her. Her constant nagging got under my skin, and I was itching to see her get a dose of comeuppance long before the episode ended.
As I said, the twist wasn’t at all surprisingly and it barely qualifies as one thanks to the build-up to it. But it does lead to an ending that feels rare for this show, and even if it was cliched, it was at least satisfying. Foster could’ve gone with a more extreme punishment, but this one fit the mood of the story just fine.
So, “Do Not Open This Box” is a pretty good but wholly predictable story. You know from the get-go that Ruth is bound to get some comeuppance and the big twist can be seen coming a mile away. However, the performances were decently good, the pacing felt just right, and the ending was suitable. Overall, it wasn’t a bad little story.