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The Box Movie Review and Discussion

Updated on July 14, 2013
The Box
The Box

A Movie Worth Reviewing

Every so often I've come across a movie that leaves me pondering. It just so happened that my husband and I were going through a list of movies and came across this title "The Box." Previous to coming across it through scanning movie titles, I had never heard or even seen the trailer for the movie, to my knowledge.

After viewing the movie, I went on-line to see what others had said about the movie. It was clear that a line was drawn in the sand. Those who looked at the movie from a spiritual and philosophical aspect and those who simply thought it was a bad sci-fi/fantasy venture.

The movie does have an sci-fi flair to it and, in my opinion, adds an interest of man's relationship with an "higher power."


A small wooden box arrives on the doorstep of a married couple, who know that opening it will grant them a million dollars and kill someone they don't know.


Norma and Arthur Lewis, a suburban couple with a young child, receive a simple wooden box as a gift, which bears fatal and irrevocable consequences. A mysterious stranger delivers the message that the box promises to bestow upon its owner $1 million with the press of a button. However, pressing this button will simultaneously cause the death of another human being somewhere in the world, someone they don't know. With just 24 hours to have the box in their possession, Norma and Arthur find themselves in the cross-hairs of a startling moral dilemma and must face the true nature of their humanity. Written by Warner Brothers Pictures


Richard Kelly (screenplay), Richard Matheson (short story "Button, Button")


Cameron Diaz, James Marsden, and Frank Langella

The Box

The box is representative of how we live our human existance. We often mindlessly "box" ourselves in situations and events of our daily lives. In so doing, we then have become mentally trapped when viewing the life around us.

Steward Arlington, one of the main characters, elaborates on this thought towards the middle of the movie. His assistant askes him why did he chose the box as the vechile for the "test.." Arlington explains that our vehicles, houses, and our televisions are boxes!

It's also symbolic of the flesh being the "box" for the soul!

The illumination of knowing that from the entry of an infant to the death of the evolved adult we live in a box!

A $100 Bill -- Temptation
A $100 Bill -- Temptation


The movie is pivoted on choices! From pushing the red button under the clear glass bubble to the sacrifice of the wife! The movie is full of ying yang!

Would you click the button on the premise that you thought the box was the hoax of some party giver? Then, the what ifs come into play. What would happen if they did push the button? Would they really get a million dollars? Would somebody really die?Tired of wondering and thinking about their present financial issues, Norma presses the button.

To her surprise the unthinkable happens, Arlington Steward appears with the suitcase full of money -- $1,000,000 cash. They've changed their mind! Arlington Steward tells them it's too late. "You've already pushed the button," he explains. As Steward's limo pulls away, Arthur notes the license number, which he later discovers is registered to the NSA (National Security Agency).

The Temptation

While Norma's husband is at work at NASA, Arlington Steward appears at her doorstep. His face is deformed but still she allows him into her home. They sit at the table in the kitchen across from each other with the box between him.

Arlington Steward explains three conditions:

  1. After Pushing the Button someone in the world, they didn't know. would die.
  2. She and her husband would receive one million dollars but they could not share this information with anyone else.
  3. If the button wasn't pushed by 5 p.m. the next day the offer of the million would be given to someone else.

Arlington Steward slides a fresh, clean $100 bill across to Nora for "allowing" him into her home.

An interesting note is that the box was only given to couples with "a" child!

Nora and Walter with Arlington Steward
Nora and Walter with Arlington Steward

Freewill Question

I came across this reviewer's thought and felt it worth examining, especially since I am a Christian and this question is often debated and discussed in Bible Studies across the world.

Trevor Nemeth writes:

"I propose that The Box is an ironic work because it offers the false choice of free will while revealing that we are trapped in many metaphorical boxes. You can only choose to be free at the expense of another's life, is that freedom? No, it is only another box because then you become trapped in the consequences of your own morality. There is no escape for us because we live on earth and that is another Box. This is precisely why the external beings in the film are ultimately antagonists. They demand we conform to moral standards which rob us of our freedom. We made it to Mars, and we were burned for it and turned into slaves in a sick game.

The references to Jean Paul Sartre illustrate this point rather well. "You can only enter the final chamber free, or not free." Sure, but no matter the form in which we enter the chamber, it is a chamber nonetheless."

Which if we agree with Trevor, our freewill becomes choices within confinement.

We do know that scripture tells us that He came that we "might"have life and that more abundantly. We actively choose life each day we awaken and walk through another day.

The Fate of Strangers

Christ came a world that rejected Him so when I came across this review, I knew that I wanted to include this in the discussion, Malevista writes the following:

"The fault of the human race appears to be inadequate concern for the fate of strangers. Once before, the human race was considered to be so corrupt that all but a few were destroyed. The offspring of the few weren't much better, and in their pride they tried to build a tower so that they could ascend to heaven. The modern counterpart is NASA and the ascent into the heavens. The human race has had 3500 years to learn the lesson of altruism to strangers. Has it learned? That's what the button is all about. Unfortunately, I don't think we're going to pass the test."

Christ was FULL of compassion, in fact, one of my most favorite story in the Bible is when He comes across a funeral processional and He sees the mother weeping. He stops the procession and raises her Son! What compassion for a stranger! A mother that He didn't know!  Awesome!

Nora with the Box -- Contemplation
Nora with the Box -- Contemplation

The Role of the Wife

From the beginning (Genesis) the woman has held a pivotal place in the response of Man!  No movie, to me, has zero-ed in on her affect as "The Box"  (fictional sources) was able to. 

According to Genesis, Eve was birthed into a reality of stability.  All that she could ever want or desire had already been created.  Eve was inquisitive, unlike Adam she had not had the opportunity to "walk" in her own self through Creation.  She had always been a part of Adam.

Since then, we women, have always had the "need" to live in a state of "stability."  Anytime that changes we tend to entertain ideas and methods that when in a state of "stability" we would not.

I enjoyed the view of the husband and wife dynamic of the Box.  If you watch the movie, there is a poignant part where one of Walter's male co-workers ask "your wife was the one that pressed the button?"  The movie ends with another couple with the box and less than 24 hours to press the button.  Guess who presses the button?

The Number 13

The number "13" is referenced at least four times. The first time is at the beginning of the movie, with the shot of the Lewis' bedroom clock, which shows 5:44 a.m., the digits of which amount to "13". The second reference is Mr. Steward's car, the license plate number of which is "XH34-568". The letters "X" and "H" are the 24th and 8th numbers of the alphabet, respectively. Twenty-four plus eight equals 32. Thirty-two plus the other numbers on the license plate (3, 4, 5, 6, and 8) totals 58; 5 plus 8 totals to "13". The third reference is the time of death of the woman who was shot in the chest, whose husband works at Langley, or at least the time the "neighbor's heard the shot," which is 4:45 p.m.( 4+4=8, 8+5=13). Finally, the fourth reference is the Lewis' home address, the numbers of which are "7321"; 7 plus 3 plus 1 plus 2 totals "13".

The Box Trailer

The Box Poll

Have You Seen the Movie?

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Please Rate and Comment

I really would LOVE to hear from you.  Leave a comment or thought, e-mail me if you like.  Share with me some insight you've gotten that I've missed!

Thanks so much for stopping by!


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    • The Farmers Wife profile image

      The Farmers Wife 

      7 years ago from Turkey

      I came across the film on TV one night and got hooked in, but I can't really say I thought about it so in depth. I didn't really enjoy it either but felt compelled to watch to the end!


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