“The Box” brilliantly explores morality, greed

COLBY QUALLS – Hoof Prints Staff

“The Box” is a science fiction horror film recreated after “Button, Button,” a short story of 1970. The whole movie encircles around the question of the modern age:  what would you be willing to do for a million dollars? Today a million dollars is still a large sum of money, but with the setting of the movie being Virginia in the 1970s, this emphasizes what was considered a fortune.

Throughout the course of this film, we watch one family in particular, the Lewis family. Arthur Lewis works in optics for NASA. He is credited with the design of the camera on the probe the Viking which explored Mars. His pay was stable, but it wasn’t as much as he wanted. He was fine with that at first though. The real reason he joined NASA was to become an astronaut. Through his preparation and hard work, he passed the exams with high marks.  Unfortunately, they still rejected him claiming he failed a psych exam. This loss makes the family feel more vulnerable.

Norma Lewis is a literature teacher at an elite private school. She makes a decent salary as well. Things become tough though when she finds out that the school retracts the employee discount for tuition, which is what helped enroll her son. If that wasn’t enough, she had also been waiting for a surgery for a disfigured foot. Obviously surgeries are usually expensive meaning that the family would be set back from these inconveniences.

With this background, we understand the build-up from the beginning of the movie. The movie begins with a CIA memo being typed across the screen. We learn that a man named Arlington Steward has miraculously recovered from burn wounds related to the Mars Project. These small lines set up an ominous beginning.

Later we hear Mr. Steward’s name again when a package is left on the Lewis doorstep. This package was dropped off around 5:45 a.m. with no warning.  When Norma stumbles downstairs and looks through the peephole, she sees a black car drive off. This package happens to be a wooden box with a button protected by a glass dome. The dome to this mechanism is locked.  Accompanying the package is a note which reads that Mr. Steward will come at 5 p.m.

The next day around five, Mr. Steward did show up. His wounds from the burns were very conspicuous on his face leaving an eerie impression on Norma. Arlington makes an offer to Norma and her husband. If they press the button, two things will happen. One, someone they don’t know will die. Two, they will receive a payment of one million dollars in cash. They would have to make this decision by five the next day. After he debriefed her, he made an expedient exit.

Through the course of this movie, they have to make a decision. Do they press the button? Is the man being serious? Does someone really die? Is the money fake? I would personally love to discuss the details of this movie, but in my personal opinion, it would ruin the movie if I described the details.

The beginning was a little slow. Of course they had to develop an exposition, but they could have made it a little more interesting. The acting at first also was amateur. Now, once the conflict began to develop, you could see the full effects of their acting prowess. The special effects used were of a higher quality. The actual story line was sublime. It had a simple question it wished to answer and then developed a believable and highly suspenseful movie from this beginning.

Throughout the course of the movie, I was on the edge of my seat squirming with different emotions such as fear, despair, and even confusion at times.  Once the movie ended, I was literally speechless. My partner and I talked about the movie all the way home. There is no doubt in my mind that this deserves a “yay.”