The basic concept behind THE BOX sounds abhorrent, but the movie itself just turns weird and a bit perplexing. A bigger problem, however, is that it brings up some Christian and biblical references and issues in positive ways, but without really mentioning Jesus Christ and His Gospel of Salvation. Thus, the movie’s Christian worldview is undeveloped to such an extent that the ending becomes disappointing, both spiritually and morally.
Based on a classic short story by Richard Matheson, the setup for the story involves a young married couple, Arthur and Norma, who have a young son named Walter. Arthur and Norma are hit hard by terrible news affecting their finances. First, Arthur, a NASA scientist, learns he has been rejected for astronaut training because he failed the psychological evaluation. Then, Norma, a private school teacher, gets the news that the school will no longer offer free tuition to faculty children, for her son Walter.
At the same time this occurs, a strange older man with a disfigured face, named Arlington Steward, visits Norma to tell her about a strange box with a button mechanism delivered to their home. Steward gives her a key to open the button mechanism. He tells her that she and her husband will get $1 million if they press the button. The problem is, when they press a button, someone they don’t know will die. Steward warns them, however, that if they go to the police or tell anyone about this scheme, there will be heavy consequences.
Of course, after telling Arthur about what Steward said, Norma impulsively presses the button. Cut to a home across town where the police are called to a home where the husband fatally shot his wife in the heart and fled.
Arthur and Norma do not know about the death across town, but they immediately have regrets after Norma presses the button, and even when Steward shows up and gives them the million dollars. Separately, both of them begin to investigate Steward, and both are left clues by strangers and acquaintances on the street.
Eventually, Arthur and Norma learn that the box with the button is a moral test of mankind that an alien species or supernatural forces in Heaven are giving to mankind. This second possibility is suggested more than once, and is even given Christian and biblical meaning. As the movie goes along, however, the events and characters sometimes get more and more bizarre.
Finally, despite the Christian, biblical references and issues, the movie fails to mention Jesus Christ or His Gospel (except in four strong profanities), even though it mentions the ideas of salvation, redemption, and forgiveness. Also, though the movie leaves open the possibility of forgiveness or redemption for Arthur and Norma, the ending fails to deliver on that possible promise. Consequently, the ending is not very inspiring at all. It’s actually somewhat depressing and disappointing, spiritually and morally.
Ultimately, according to one of the movie’s producers, the filmmakers decided to leave some things unanswered and open to interpretation. Regrettably, however, their ending is somewhat of a downer and leaves the audience hanging. This is doubly sad, because the movie succeeds in making viewers sympathize with Arthur and Norma, even though Norma pushes the button.
It is interesting to note that, in all the movie’s references to people pushing the button, it is said that it is always the woman who pushes the button, never the man. This is an obvious reference to the story of Adam and Eve, and to the Greek myth of Pandora’s Box.
That said, one of the things the filmmakers forget is that, in the biblical story of Adam and Eve, original sin actually enters the human race through Adam, who also eats of the forbidden fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Divine salvation is actually made possible, therefore, because of the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ, which means that Jesus was born without the seed, or DNA, of a human male. Thus, it is the “seed of the woman” through which salvation comes, not the seed of the man. And, it is through the seed of the woman that all nations are blessed by the Messiah, Jesus Christ (Genesis 3:15 and Genesis 22:15-18 – see also Romans 5:12-21 and Galatians 4:4-7). Without the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ, forgiveness, redemption, salvation, and deliverance are not possible.
Perhaps if the filmmakers actually understood Christian theology and the Bible better, their movie’s ending would have been more inspiring, if not more Christian.
Ultimately, therefore, THE BOX misses the boat thematically. Its violence is not bloody or graphic, but the movie does contain four strong profanities.
(C, B, FR, Pa, L, V, MM) Light, undeveloped Christian, biblical worldview with a disappointing open ending containing false pagan spiritual hints that hurt and minimize the movie’s Christian, biblical references and possible redemptive meanings (e.g., the movie talks about redemption, salvation, forgiveness, and the possibility of a Christian afterlife but Jesus Christ is not mentioned and the idea of forgiveness remains only a possibility that’s never realized in the plot), but there’s an opening for a sequel that could become more overtly Christian if the filmmakers or someone else wanted to do that; two light obscenities, four strong profanities mentioning Jesus, and two light profanities; sometimes scary but light violence includes a car crash, two people shot dead with some light blood shown afterwards, crowds of strange people menace man, man is taken through a symbolic baptism in one location that plummets him down onto his bed as the water crashes all around his bedroom and down the stairs, people suffer mysterious nosebleeds, and people threatened; no sex; no nudity; brief alcohol use; no smoking; and, strong miscellaneous immorality includes student humiliates teacher’s disfigured foot and goads her husband into a scuffle at a rehearsal dinner for wife’s sister, greed eventually rebuked, woman asks man with supernatural connections if forgiveness is possible but he does not answer her question, man forces people into no-win situations featuring decisions about moral dilemmas.
The story of THE BOX involves a young married couple, Arthur and Norma. Arthur learns he has been rejected for astronaut training because he failed the psychological evaluation. The private school where Norma teaches tells her it is ending the free tuition for faculty children, including her son Walter. Then, a strange older man with a disfigured face, Arlington Steward, visits Norma to tell her about a strange box with a button mechanism left at their house. Steward tells her that she and her husband will get $1 million if they press the button. When they press the button, someone they don’t know will die. After some consternation, Norma presses the button but comes to regret her decision.
The basic concept behind THE BOX sounds abhorrent, but the movie is weird and perplexing. Eventually, Arthur and Norma learn the box is a moral test that mysterious supernatural forces in Heaven are giving mankind. The movie brings up Christian and biblical references and issues in positive ways, but without really mentioning Jesus Christ and His Gospel. Thus, the movie’s Christian worldview is undeveloped, with a downer ending that’s spiritually and morally disappointing.