The Box (2009) | Transcript

With the press of a button, a wooden box bestows riches and death.
The Box (2009)

The Box (2009)
Director: Richard Kelly
Screenplay: Richard Kelly
Based on: Button, Button by Richard Matheson
Stars: Cameron Diaz, James Marsden, Frank Langella, James Rebhorn, Holmes Osborne

Plot: 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.

* * *



You hear something?

ARTHUR: It’s the doorbell.

Are you sure?


What time is it?

Quarter to 6.

What is it?

Someone left a box.


I don’t know. There was a car and they just drove off.

BOY: Did Santa come early this year?

I guess we’re up.

ARTHUR: You never really believed in Santa Claus, did you?

WALTER: You should’ve come up with a better story…

…than a fat guy coming down the chimney.

It’s so illogical. ARTHUR: And illegal.

WALTER: It’s breaking and entering.

ARTHUR: What kind of car was it?

Well, it was black.


Why would they just drive off?

I don’t know, sweetheart.

Get the box.

What is it?

Never seen anything like it before in my life.

Well, you need a key to open it.

There’s a note.

Looks like a wedding invitation.

Is it some sort of bridesmaid gift from the Powells?

NORMA: “Mr. Steward will call upon you at 5 p.m.”

Do you know a Mr. Steward?

I don’t. Do you?

It’s snowing.

It won’t stick.

Hey. PB and J.

Did you cut the bread into squares?

Of course, like always.

Well, don’t do that. Squares are for babies.

Hey, Mrs. Lewis.

Hi, Mrs. Lewis.

NORMA: Morning, boys.

Feel free to call me Norma. Mrs. Lewis makes me feel old.

You are old.

I’m only 35.

WALTER: Yeah, to us, that’s old.

You’re kind of a geezer.

NORMA: You’ll be a geezer one day too, Mr. Smarty-Pants.

Why does the bus stop have to be in the front of my driveway?

So I can watch my little Walter get on the bus safe, in one piece.

WALTER: Please go inside, you’re embarrassing me.

NORMA: My love embarrasses you?

WALTER: Yes, it does.

What if I give my big strong Walter a big hug and a kiss…

…right before he gets on the bus?

BOY: Do it, do it. WALTER: Mom, get off.

Bye, Walter. See you boys later.


Will not be a year of politics as usual.

It can be a year of inspiration and hope.

Little early for a midlife crisis, don’t you think?

And it will be a year of concern…

So, who’s Mr. Steward?

…of quiet and sober reassessment…

I have no idea.

Is it someone from school?

I don’t know.

Is it your secret lover?

I hate you.

I hate you too.

Three strangers trapped in a room for all eternity.

Each wanting something from the other.

A wish unfulfilled.

This is Sartre’s vision of hell.

Hell is other people.

Yes. Hell is other people seeing you for who you truly are.

So, what does this mean for Estelle?

It means she’s going to rot in hell.

She’s a slut who married for money and killed her baby.

It’s slightly more complicated than that, Charles.

See, she was poor and married into money to save her family.

What happened to your foot?

I beg your pardon?

I’ve seen you limp.

Did something happen to your foot?

Can we see it?

My foot?


Can we see what it looks like?

WOMAN 1: Why don’t you just shut up? WOMAN 2: Yeah, come on.

What? Are you embarrassed?

MAN: Oh, man.

Remember, everyone, essays are due tomorrow.

WOMAN 3: All right, I’ll do it.

Whether life has begun or not…

…it is critical to our concept of chemical evolution…

…to determine the path of carbon chemistry.

Mars offers the first opportunity…

…to gain another perspective in the cosmic history…

…of planetary chemistry.

Are there any questions?

WOMAN 1: What’s the next step?

Yes, in the back. Rhonda.

Yes. Can you elaborate on the soil tests?

The gas exchange experiment measures the production…

…or uptake of C02, nitrogen…

…methane, hydrogen and oxygen…

…during the incubation of the Martian soil sample.

Why is the National Security Agency involved?

The NSA?

Yes, Martin Teague, deputy director of the NSA is here in Langley.

WOMAN 2: Why is the NSA here at Langley?

MAN 1: Would you tell us about tests?

WOMAN 2: Would an ancient Martian civilization have left something behind?

I have no comment, but I thank you for the information, Rhonda.

Any other questions?

If we find water beneath the surface…

…and the orbiter photos of Utopia Planitia indicate there were once rivers…

…on the surface of the planet…

…it’s quite possible we’ll eventually find evidence of life.

And who are you?

Arthur Lewis. I used to work in the optics lab.

I helped design the camera.

NORM: There in the back.

MAN 2: NASA continues funding…

In your short time with us, you’ve really become part of our family here at Libby Hill.

That’s why it’s so difficult to tell you this.

We’ve canceled the faculty tuition discount.

Starting when?

Next semester.

I’m real sorry about this, Norma.

I know you are.

Your nose is bleeding.

Why does your mom limp?

None of your business.

So, what are you gonna do?

I don’t know.

We’re already living paycheck to paycheck.

Well, what does Arthur think?

He doesn’t know yet.

Oh, God, this is gonna devastate him.

Then again, he’s still living on Mars.

Oh, man.

What is it with that tie?

Third time you’ve worn that this week.

This is my lucky tie.

God knows you need it.

I should loan it to you since today’s the big day, huh?



Planet Earth’s not good enough for old Arthur. He’s gotta go up to outer space.

ARTHUR: Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We shall see.

WENDELL: Yeah. You’re getting a little too big for them britches.

I’ll go tell the boss you’ve been working on a personal project on company time.

Is that what you’re gonna do?


Terry, don’t blow the place up.

TERRY: Yeah, I know, I know.

Well, it’s a Christmas present for Norma. Is that all right with you?

It’s sweet, I guess. Where’s my present?

Merry Christmas.

Thank you.

Don’t mention it.


MAN [ON TV]: Your summer favorites are back to strut their stuff.

It’s Roger, Dwayne and Rerun.

There’s Roger’s mama and his lovable sister, Dee.


It’s the premiere of the show that answers the hilarious question, “What’s happening?”

Next Saturday night on ABC.

Hello. May I help you?

Mrs. Lewis?


Hello. My name is Arlington Steward.

I assume you received the box I left on your doorstep.


And you found the button unit inside the box?

Is that what you call it?

A button unit?

Yes, we do.

Please don’t let my appearance frighten you.

I assure you I’m not a monster.

I’m just a man with a job to do.

May I come in?


Can I offer you anything?

STEWARD: Oh, no, thank you. I never have much of an appetite.

Shall we sit down?


…are you trying to sell me something?

Yes, in a way. I do have an offer to make.

What are you offering?

A financial opportunity.

Let me explain.

In this envelope, there is a key.

I’ll show you.

This key opens the glass dome to the button unit.


Now, if you push the button, two things will happen.

First, someone, somewhere in the world, whom you don’t know…

…will die.


…you will receive a payment…

…of 1 million dollars.


The payment will be delivered to you by me…

…in cash.

Just as you see here.

Oh, and Mrs. Lewis, please permit me…

…to present to you this crisp 100-dollar bill as a gift…

…in exchange for your kindness in allowing me into your home.

NORMA: You’re gonna give me this 100-dollar bill…

…even if I say no?

That is correct.

Are you for real?

Oh, I assure you, Mrs. Lewis…

…this offer is quite real.

Well, who do you work for?

Guarantee of payment comes with three restrictions, I’m afraid.

One, I am not permitted…

…to disclose any information about the identity of my employers.

Two, you are not permitted to discuss the details of this with anyone…

…except your husband, of course.

Three, you have 24 hours.

You have until 5:00 tomorrow to make your decision.

At which point…

…I shall return and retrieve the button unit.

It will be reprogrammed…

…and the offer will be made to someone else.

It’s been a pleasure meeting you, Mrs. Lewis.

It’s a new prosthesis for her foot.

You got it.

But I’m using the new GE Silastic polymer…

…they’re developing for the pilot chairs for the shuttle.

WENDELL: Nice, pal.

Thank you.

Hey. What happened to her foot?

When she was 17, her brother dropped a barbell on her foot.

She thinks one of her toes is broken, so she goes to the hospital.

The doctor sets her in a chair, turns the x-ray machine on…

…then goes to check on another patient down the hall.

And he forgets all about Norma.

Leaves the x-ray machine running.

Oh, Jesus, that’s…

That’s not good.


The tissue in four of her toes was completely destroyed by the radiation.

They had to amputate four of her toes?

Yep. Then they had to go in and get skin from her inner thigh…

…to cover the front of her foot.

This is back in 1958, so they didn’t have the skin-graft techniques they do now.

And she had to sit like this, the same position…

…full body cast, for a month, waiting for it to heal.

Jesus. I hope she sued this idiot.

Oh, yeah. Her family sued and they won.

What was the settlement?

Ten thousand dollars.

If this sucker works, she can start jogging again.

WENDELL: I hope so.

That’s a nice thing you’re doing for Norma.

Thank you, sir.

One good turn deserves another.

This just arrived for you. Certified mail from…

The Astronaut Corps?

This is a joke?

Well, that’s the way it came. Nobody opened it.

Well, it says I was rejected.


MAN: Arthur Lewis.

His astronaut application was rejected.

Can you tell me why?


Arthur, they say you failed the psychological exam.

You gotta be kidding me.

That makes no sense.

Norm, I aced every test.

I was counting on this.

You know?

What am I supposed to do with the rest of my life?

There are many great opportunities here.

Well, we just got a grant to develop optics for the new planetary camera system.

You’re perfect for it.

A quasi-managerial position that doesn’t exist?

Well, we’ll always have Mars.

Alice, honey, when are you and me gonna get together?

When Barry Goldwater gets together with Jane Fonda.

Before I could ask him any more questions, he got in his car and drove away.

What are you doing? Be careful.


Oh, come on, Norma, you can’t think this thing’s real.

Did you get his license plate?


Your dad’s a cop. Always gotta get the license plate.

Well, I was a little overwhelmed.

Okay, so somewhere in the world someone you don’t know will die?

Yeah. Shh.

Yes, those were his exact words.

Did he say how they would die?


ARTHUR: And he offered you a briefcase full of cash?

Yes, he said it was a million dollars, and it looked real.

What did he look like?

You don’t wanna know.

What do you mean?

Well, he must’ve been a burn victim…

…because half of his face was gone.


Yes, gone.

Are you messing with me?


Yes, you are.

No, I’m not.

We’re gonna be late for the play.

I’ll lock it up downstairs.

All right.

I would like to buy St. Charles Place.

Okay, St. Charles Place.

Hi, Mrs. Lewis.

Hi, Dana.

Did Mr. Steward show up?

Yeah, he stopped by.

Well, so, what does it do? What happens when you push the button?

Nothing special.

Did he give you a key to the dome? I bet it does something cool.

You sure do ask a lot of questions.

And now you’re avoiding them.

Hey, big mouth, that’s enough. All right?

In bed by 10:00?

WALTER: Yes, sir.

All right.

Thanks, Dana. DANA: Good night.

Good night.

That’s yours.


My turn.


He was very charming.

I honestly believe he would give us that entire briefcase full of money.

MAN: Here you go.


MAN: Forever and ever and ever.

Well, well…

…let’s get on with it.



So, what are you thinking?

All right.

Look, there’s absolutely no upside for him in this deal, okay?

So he’s a con artist. The bill’s a counterfeit.

You don’t give someone $100 with no strings attached.

That’s just crazy.

Maybe he is crazy.

I mean, maybe he’s mentally ill…

…and he’s just using this device as some sort of excuse to murder someone…

…and then blame us for it.

So should we call the police? What do you wanna do?

If we tell anyone, the deal is off. No money.

He said that?

Yes, we can’t tell anyone.

Let’s go home.

All right. I’ll get our coats.

Well, someone spent a lot of time designing this.

Anodized aluminum, handblown glass.

It looks expensive.


What are you doing?

I’m gonna take a look inside.

Look at this silly…

There we go.


No transmitter, no radio.

If we pushed the button right now, there’s no way he’d even know.

Okay, just… You know what?

Put it back together. I don’t want you breaking it.

Well, what do you care?

Because he’s gonna come back to retrieve it.

He says he takes the box, he reprograms it…

…and then he makes the offer to someone else.

I don’t know what he’s gonna reprogram. It’s a piece of wood.

ANNOUNCER [ON TV]: People start pollution. People can…

So are you gonna push it or not?

It’s not my decision to make.

It’s ours, and I would never push it without you knowing.

Don’t forget to turn off the tree lights.

No, I like leaving them on.

It’s a fire hazard.

Yeah, but it keeps the Christmas spirit alive while we sleep.

We could die.

Everybody dies, Norma.


Leave them on.

Strange. He only makes house calls when you’re out of town.

What are you thinking?

I… He…

I wanna tell you, Dr. Kirby is weird. I went to his office…

I’m thinking we’re never gonna see that much money.

He said he felt silly standing around naked.

And why do you say that?

Be realistic, Arthur. You work for the government.

God knows we both spend too much money.

Sure would make it easier to live the life we want.


…why do we need a million dollars to be happy?

We don’t.

But imagine what we could accomplish.

I mean, we could provide security for our entire family.

Look, you know, I don’t need to work at NASA forever.

I can get another job.

Are we ever gonna leave Richmond?

Dr. Mandrake Kirby, one of the fine doctors and…

Kirby is a family physician.

We’re gonna have to postpone my foot surgery.

No, we’re not doing that. You need that surgery.

Yeah, I know, but we can’t afford it.

Well, then push the button. See what happens.

I’m scared.

Norma, why are you scared?

You didn’t see his face.

I’m calling the police.

You can’t.

Right, because then the deal is off.

Norma, how the hell is he gonna know if we even call anyone?

Does he have the house bugged?

It’s a gift to each of the bridesmaids at the wedding.

They’re gonna make a big joke of it tonight and…

Doc Powell’s gonna ask who pushed the button and who didn’t.

And everyone’s gonna have a laugh at the con artist he hired…

…to show up at our doorstep.

WOMAN [OVER PHONE]: I was at the grocery store, and she wandered into the next aisle.


Well, where is she?

I ran out into the parking lot.

They put her in the back of a van and drove off.


Look, lock all the doors.

She just vanished, Jeffrey.

I’m on my way home.

ARTHUR: I ran a test on it at work.

This hundred-dollar bill is real.

So let’s assume it’s all real.

We push the button, we get a million dollars…

…and we can be responsible for the death of another human being.

Is that something we can live with?

What if it’s someone’s baby?

What if it’s a murderer on death row?

What if it’s our neighbors across the street?

Do you even know them?

Doug and Donna.

What is it to really know someone, Norma?

Do you know me?

Better than you know yourself.

Do you know Walter?

Even better than I know you.

What do we wanna do, Norma?

It’s just a box.


911 Emergency, how may I direct your call?

Excuse me, you need to slow down. I can’t understand what you’re saying.

So you heard loud screaming? Then a gunshot?

WOMAN: Ten-four.


I heard a gunshot…

…then he ran out the front door with a briefcase and got in his car.

OFFICER: Ma’am, get back inside. Take the boy and go back inside right now.


Check her pulse.


Let’s go.



All right, get back, I gotta kick the door down.

Get away from the door!


Shh. Okay.


STEWARD: Hello, Mrs. Lewis.


Shall I come in?

Hello. You must be Mr. Lewis.

Forgive me, I have a rather busy day. Shall we?

Do you have the key?

Thank you.

There we are. One million dollars.

You can count it, if you like.

Did someone?

Die? ARTHUR: Yeah.

Of course.

NORMA: You said before that the button unit would be reprogrammed.


What happens now? Are you gonna make the offer to someone else?

STEWARD: Well, yes, Mrs. Lewis. That’s how it works.

And I can promise you that the offer will be made to someone you don’t know.



We don’t want your money. Take it.

I’m sorry, Mr. Lewis.

The button has been pushed.

Good day.



Open the door.

Open the door!

XH34568. I got his license plate.

What are you thinking, Norma?

Someone we don’t know.

Does that mean we’re next?

Is that what he meant?

All right, let’s just…




Okay, put the money in the safe.

Uh-uh-uh. Not today.

Homework first.

Clean out your lunch pail too, okay?

Come on.

MAN: We got ourselves another domestic homicide.

This time it’s the wife.

DICK: Really?

The victim’s name is Diane Carnes, 31 years old, gunshot wound to the chest.

They found her little girl locked in the bathroom.


Husband is unaccounted for.

Neighbors saw him bolt out the front door after they heard a gunshot.

Has the husband got any priors?

STARRS: No. And that’s the thing.

Husband is Jeffrey Carnes…

…described as a loving father by all the neighbors…

…and he’s a rocket scientist.

OFFICER: Works for NASA.


It doesn’t hurt anymore.

MAN 1: Merry Christmas. ARTHUR: Merry Christmas.

NORMA: Thank you. MAN 2: My pleasure.

Enjoy your evening.




All of this for a rehearsal dinner?

Remember our rehearsal dinner?

You mean the keg party in the backyard?

Yeah, that.

Here’s my little girl.

ARTHUR: Hello.

Look at the way she walks. You float.

NORMA: You knew about that? ARTHUR: Hi, how are you?

Good to see you.

Santa came early and brought your step back.

NORMA: That he did, Mama.

How are you, Dick? DICK: How are you, Arthur?

Good to see you.

NORMA: Congratulations.

Hi, Lana.

LANA: Arthur, now, is Norma still cutting your hair?

Yeah, who are you, Lynyrd or Skynyrd?


Honey, they’re not gonna let you into outer space with those sideburns.

Everybody’s wearing them like that now.

Well, honey, I know, but…

Forget about it. Where did you get that?

DICK: Right back over in there.

All right. You want something?


All right.

Excuse me.

DICK: Folks, could I have your attention forjust a minute?

We’d really like to thank all of you for coming out…

…on such an unseasonably cold night in Richmond.

Now, I’m told that I’m supposed to keep this quite short…

…because we have another 43 speeches coming tonight.


Friends of the bride and groom have very generously donated this array of gifts.

And it being the holiday season, we thought it’d be a good idea to have a…

Well, to have a holiday-gift drawing.

All right, Lana, let’s… LANA: You need to mix these up.

DICK: Let’s do it. Okay, I will. LANA: Like you’re spiking a punch bowl.


He knows how to do that. DICK: Oh, no, I’ve never done that.

Never done that.

All right, here we go. Uh-oh.

My son-in-law. Not you. Arthur.

Come on up.


I have to get up?

Come on up, Arthur. Come on up.

Folks, I did not rig this. I’m an honest cop. I swear I am.

All right, get your gift, lucky.

All right, just pick anything here? DICK: Any gift that you like, yes, sir.

Just leave those golf clubs, all right? Those are mine.

No, you can have the clubs, you can have the clubs.

You know, I’m just gonna… I’m gonna take this box right here.

WOMAN: He’s so polite.

That’s a nice plain gift, isn’t it?

All right, here we go. Let’s get another one here, let’s see what we got.

Ooh. Mysterious.

DICK: Leticia. Leticia.

Come on up, Leticia.

Well? Open it.

Why don’t you go put it in the car? We’ll open it up when we get home.



You gotta open it here. Gotta see what’s inside the box.

Yeah, come on, open it. DICK: Mike Smith here?

Keep this moving, folks. Remember, we still have 43 speeches.

NORMA: Arthur, that’s him.

What is it, a photograph?

Yeah. Yeah.

Well, let’s see it. ARTHUR: No, no, it’s an inside joke.

It’s private.

Ooh. Nice. All right, yeah, we know about that.

We’ve taken some private photographs. We could trade up.

Let your minds run wild with that.

REBECCA: Is that the one you brought?

What about this rehearsal dinner?

Can you imagine what the wedding’s gonna be like?

Astounding Science Fiction.

“Day of the Moron”?

Yeah. My dad collects comics.

What else does he collect?

Well, he has a bunch of Mars stuff in the basement. You wanna see?


Come on.

DANA: What’s your dad have to do with the Viking?

He helped design the camera.

They designed it so that it photographs 360 degrees.

It scans the image one line at a time.

Takes about five minutes to complete one revolution.

DANA: How do they get the images from Mars back to Earth?

Radio transmissions.

They figured out a way to interpret the data and then print it out on film.

How long does it take to transmit the signal?

About two hours. The signal travels 58 million miles in about five minutes.

They tested it out last year in Colorado.


Look, I don’t think that we should say anything to my father, okay?

Let’s see how that new foot works on the dance floor. Come on.

“Any sufficiently advanced technology…

…is indistinguishable from magic.”

Arthur C. Clarke’s third law.

My dad knows him.

Arthur, that was a wonderful thing you did for Norma.

I don’t know what she’d do without you.

I don’t know what I’d do without her.

Really, I don’t.

That was the perfect gift.

Thank you.

Thank you.


ARTHUR: It’s a really nice party, Dick.



And I’m not paying for it.

You’re not paying?


ARTHUR: Well, how did you work that out? DICK: No, no, no.

Hey, listen, you think you could run a license plate for me?

This is a black sedan. You think you could find out who owns it?

Yeah, sure. What’s going on?

It’s just someone hanging around the house, you know.

It’s probably nothing, just wanna be safe.

Yeah. It’s worth checking.

What’s the deal with this kid? He flashed me the peace sign.

He’s one of your students, isn’t he?

Norma didn’t tell you?

No, she didn’t. What’s?

Well, he humiliated her in front of the entire class.

He made fun of her foot.


You’ve got a bloody nose.

Thank you.

Is there something I can get for you?

Well, you said that I had a phone call.


Yes. Right here.


STEWARD: Mrs. Lewis, hello. It’s Arlington Steward.

I see your husband has contacted the police about my vehicle.

I have quite a few employees.

Listen, we don’t want anyone to get hurt.

Well, if you didn’t want anyone to get hurt, you shouldn’t have pushed the button.

We don’t want any more trouble, okay?

I’m afraid trouble has found you, Mrs. Lewis.

There are always consequences.

The test will continue until the button unit is reprogrammed.

Okay, what are we supposed to do now?

Listen to your conscience.

Do what it tells you.

Enjoy the party.


What did you say to my wife?

You wanna tell me what you said to my wife?

Is that funny to you? Is that funny?

Making fun of someone’s disfigurement’s funny to you?

Is that funny to you?

No, Mr. Lewis. It’s not funny, it’s tragic.

LANA: Oh, Arthur.

Are you okay, son?


Thank you.


Dana. We’re back.


Do you have a ride home?


Okay, Arthur can take you.


Here you go.


Thank you.

So where am I taking you?

There’s a motel off l-95, the Galaxy Motor Lodge.

You’re staying in a motel?

Yeah. My parents bought a new house, but it’s not ready yet.

You’ve got blood on your hands.

What do you mean by that?

Your hands.

Are those blood stains?

Yeah, I got into a fight tonight.

Embarrassed everyone and ruined the whole party.

Somebody pushing your buttons?

Why would you say that?

Just an expression.

Don’t jump to conclusions. You’ll get yourself in a whole heap of trouble.

Well, I’m already in a whole heap of trouble.

What are you gonna do about it?

I don’t know. You got any suggestions?

Look into the light.

The light?

Yeah, the light.

Soon you’ll be blinded by it.

What is the light?

I cannot remember.



Wake up.


Jesus Christ.

Are you okay?

You have to get out of here. It’s not safe for you here.

Slow down. What are you talking about?

There’s only one person who can save you now.

Look in the mirror. You’ll see.

Dana. Dana!

MAN [ON TV]: The first picture you saw which included the footpads…

…took about five minutes to take on Mars…

…and then it is transmitted by a relay radio up to the orbiter…

July 20, 1969…

…we received a transmission from the Moon telling us:

“The Eagle has landed.”

Today’s landing, like that one, represents the realization of a dream…

…that has long excited mankind’s imagination.

And this mission offers the possibility of a momentous discovery…

…in the history of mankind:

The existence of life elsewhere in the universe.

If the experiments ofVikings 1 and 2 do not reveal living organisms…

…they will learn other secrets of the universe.

They will tell us a good many things about our own planet…

…opening up new possibilities for exploration…

…and should produce knowledge that will improve the quality of life…

…right here on Earth.

Our achievements in space represent not only the height of technological skill…

…they also reflect the best in our country…

…our character, the capacity for creativity and sacrifice…

…and a willingness to reach into the unknown.


Where did you say you met Dana?

On our field trip to the Kennedy Center in D.C.

Right. And she said she lives in Richmond?

Yeah, we rode back on the same bus.

Okay. This is her driver’s license.

Her name is Sarah Matthews.

She lives in Boston.

He called them his employees?



STEWARD: Hello, Norma.


Did your husband tell you where he was going this morning?

No, he didn’t.

I hope for your sake he isn’t playing detective again.

Though I assure you, I’ll know if he is.

Because of your employees?

Is Dana one of your employees?

As I’ve told you, I have many employees.

Can I see you? In person?

I wanna meet face to face.

I’m looking at you right now, Norma.

Excuse me?

I’m in your backyard.

Are you still there?

Mr. Steward?

All right, hold on. We want to get this straight.

You’ve had the wind tunnel for months.

Now you want the lunar lander and the hangar?

That is correct.

The NSA activity… NORM: What kind of activity?

The activities will occasionally involve NASA employees…

…but I am not at liberty to disclose how they will be involved…

…or what they will be doing.

I think this whole thing’s outrageous, but we don’t really have any choice, do we?

No. You don’t.

ARTHUR: Did you get a chance to run that license plate yet?

Yeah, I did. It’s a government-issued license plate.

It’s a town car licensed for use by the NSA.

The NSA?

Jesus Christ.

What are those?

This guy’s wife, she was shot once in the chest. Point-blank range.

Whoever shot her held a gun directly to her chest…

…and fired the bullet straight through her heart.

The husband works at Langley.

ARTHUR: Was there any sign of a struggle?

DICK: Mm-mm.


DICK: There’s no skin under her nails, no bruises.

What time did she die?

Neighbors say they heard the shot at 4:45 p.m.

What’s all this to you, Arthur?

Do you think you could take me to his house?

LANA: Well, your sister feels awful about last night.

NORMA: Arthur’s just sick about it too.

Well, Norma, let me just say this.

Daddy and I have always marveled at your strength…

…and how positive you always are, even since your injury.

And I just wonder if maybe sometimes…

…we don’t take for granted that you are all right?

I’m fine, Mama.

NSA is letting him do it. NASA can’t stop it. Test subjects are all under 40.

Happily married with a child. Go to the Richmond Library. Follow this call number.

Don’t trust anyone, not even your husband.

LANA: Oh, my Lord.

She’s bleeding. Somebody call for help.

Oh, my heavens.

Who is that woman, Norma? Do you know her?

No, I don’t, Mama.

Listen, I have a lot of errands to run before the wedding.

Can I drop you off at home?

Uh-uh-uh. Don’t touch.

ARTHUR: That’s him.

He’s the public-relations manager at Langley.

What’s his name?

Arlington Steward.


Steward with a D.

Can you check him out?


There’s three dead so far.

ARTHUR: “Human Resource Exploitation Manual.”

Call numbers? DICK: I want to put in a request…

…for a search warrant down in Langley.

But don’t put the request in through my office.

Whatever it is, it’s bigger than you and me.


Excuse me, I’m looking for the nearest exit.

You aren’t an employee. This library is for employees only.

You’re his wife.

I am Clymene.

What does he want from us?

He’s testing you.

He’s testing all of us.

Please, follow me.

There are three gateways…

…but you may choose only one.

Be careful which gateway you choose…

…for there is only one path to salvation.

Have a seat, Mrs. Lewis.

Indistinguishable from magic.

Lightning strikes the earth 100 times per second.

A single bolt of lightning can reach temperatures…

…approaching 28,000 degrees Celsius in a split second.

This is five times hotter than the surface of the sun.

Is that what happened to you?

You were struck by lightning?


And now I am in communication with those who control the lightning.

And what lies behind the other two?

Eternal damnation.


What’s the emotion you felt when you first laid eyes on me, Norma?

I felt…

You felt what?

I felt…



You felt love for me?



Because of my disfigurement.

Because of all of the pain that it ever caused me in my life.

I thought what it would be like to have all of that pain…

…magnified and projected onto my face.

And if I refuse?

Eternal damnation.

You have chosen Gateway number 2.

I saw that pain on your face and I just…

I understood it.

I felt an overwhelming feeling of love for you…

…because I knew that I would never feel sorry for myself ever again.

Take my hand, Norma.

WALTER: You don’t remember coming home, do you?

You came in your car. You walked in the door like a zombie.

You didn’t say anything. You just went straight up to bed.

Where did all this water come from?

Why isn’t Dad telling us what happened?


Go down to the basement and get me more buckets.

But I just want…



Can you tell me what happened?

I need a drink.

WALTER: Are we still going to the wedding?

NORMA: Yeah.

There is only so much information that I can disclose.

I understand.

In the hours following the first Viking transmission from Mars…

…your colleague Arlington Steward…

…was struck by lightning while standing here on this platform.

Yes. And we haven’t heard from him since then.

He’s something else now.

NORM: What do you mean?

TEAGUE: Arlington Steward died shortly after being admitted to the burn unit…

…at Riverside Hospital.

Several hours after his body was taken to the morgue…

…and locked in a freezer storage unit…

…a nurse heard a voice coming from behind a metal door.

It was a man, laughing.

Mr. Steward had come back from the dead and he was laughing hysterically.

He was then transferred to a high-security military hospital.

Soon after, we realized he was…

…demonstrating some extraordinary capabilities.

What do you mean by capabilities?

His body healed at a rate 10 times faster than normal.

Cellular degeneration essentially halted.


MAN [OVER SPEAKER]: Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. And Mrs. Edward Powell.



You can’t drink too much now, all right?

All right.

Sir, if you don’t mind my asking…

…why a box?

Your home is a box.

Your car is a box on wheels.

You drive to work in it. You drive home in it.

You sit in your home, staring into a box.

It erodes your soul…

…while the box that is your body inevitably withers, then dies…

…whereupon it is placed in the ultimate box to slowly decompose.

It’s quite depressing when you think of it that way.

Don’t think of it that way.

Think of it as a temporary state of being.

What happens once you’ve completed your tests?

I submit the data to my employers…

…and then your fate rests in their hands.

One cannot say they are not without a bizarre sense of humor.

Look at me.

I wouldn’t know, sir, of whom it is that you speak.

Your employers remain a mystery to us all.

I like mystery.

Don’t you?

How do we pass the test? STEWARD: Isn’t it obvious?

Simply don’t press the button.

If enough of you don’t, the test will conclude.

But there will be more tests to come.

MAN: Walk directly into the light.

Do not turn back under any circumstances.

When you walk into the light, you’re gonna feel your body submerged in a liquid.

Try to hold your breath.

If you feel a drowning sensation, it will pass.

Where are you sending them?

To prepare for the next test in Massachusetts.

You spoke earlier about the altruism coefficient.

If human beings are unable or unwilling to sacrifice individual desires…

…for the greater good of your species, you will have no chance for survival.

And my employers will be compelled to expedite your extinction.


Yes, sir.


I was gone, Norma.

I was gone for nearly an hour.

What did you see?

Well, what was there in the light?

Words can’t describe it.

It’s a place…

…neither here nor there…

…but somewhere in between.

It’s a warm embrace.

A place where the sidewalk ends…

…and despair is no longer the governor of the human heart.

Dad. What’s going on?

I’m gonna be sick, Walter.

You can still save yourself.

It’s too late for me, but you can still save yourself.

Jeffrey Carnes. Boy, do I got a lot of questions for you.

If you want to survive this thing, you’ll come with me. Right now.

All right, why don’t you put the gun down before someone sees you?

Get in the truck.

All right.


NORMA: Walter.




Walter! Walter!



CARNES: Those are classified CIA documents.

ARTHUR: “Test subjects and free will.

Test subjects cannot be treated like employees.”

Frontal lobe hemorrhage?

That’s his weakness.

He hasn’t figured out how to get in their heads without them noticing.

The nosebleeds.

You see lots of them?


And so there’s limits to what it can do. It’s fallible.

Living inside a 70-year-old man?

Yeah, that’s why it embedded itself at Langley.

It’s got everything it needs: Military, CIA, FBI, NASA.

So he can be killed?


MAN [ON RADIO]: The existence oflife elsewhere in the universe.

Where are we going?

Look, it’s kidnapped your son, just like it took my daughter.


But I know where it has him hidden.

There’s a motel off l-95. It’s… Steward’s employees took your son there.

It’s a transport hub.

There’s a swimming pool they use, a sort of gateway.

CARNES: So did you push the button or was it your wife?

My wife.

Yeah. Yeah, mine too.

And now she’s dead.

Did you kill her?

I did it for my daughter.

What do you mean, you did it for your daughter?

I had to make a choice between my wife and my daughter.


Follow the progress of ourViking mission…

…and to reflect on ourjourney…

…into the unknown.


Was there anyone in the truck with him?

Not that we saw.

MAN: Let’s move!

All teams execute!

Bravo, Charlie, forward position.

Weapons tight.

Move, move, move!

Arthur. Arthur, listen to me. Whatever happens to you from this point on…

…will have greater ramifications than you can possibly fathom.

Please, have a seat.

Where’s our son?

He’s in a safe place. We’ll get to him in a moment.

Please sit down.

I want you to know…

…that I have the deepest respect and admiration for you both.

You gave me hope.

But I am very sorry that you pushed the button.

I’m afraid I have to tell you…

…that two of your son’s functional senses have been impaired.

He can no longer see and he can no longer hear.

Where is he?

What have you done with him?

I have done nothing with him. I am just a vessel.

You are now presented with two options.

Option one, you can live the rest of your lives…

…and enjoy the money that has been given to you…

…and learn to live with your son’s permanent impairment.

It is irreversible.

He will never hear your voices or see your faces again.

Option two…

…there is one bullet in the chamber of this gun.

You can fire it into your wife’s heart, killing her.

At the exact moment your spirit leaves your body…

…your son will be returned to normal.

As for the million dollars…

…it will be placed into an interest-bearing account…

…given to your son on his 18th birthday.

Let me kill myself. Arthur has nothing to do with this.

I’m sorry. The offer is nonnegotiable.

Arthur, you must fire the gun.

Norma, you must die…

…or Walter will live forever in darkness and silence.

Kill me if you like, Mr. Lewis, and condemn your son to a life of agony.

You will be imprisoned for the murder of Arlington Steward, a mere employee.

And they will simply send another to replace me.


Who will send another?

Arthur, please don’t.

ARTHUR: Who? NORMA: Don’t.

Good day to you.

Mr. Steward.

Can I be forgiven?

I don’t know.

I understand you admire the writings of Jean-Paul Sartre.

Perhaps these words will comfort you.

There are two ways to enter the final chamber:

Free or not free.

The choice is ours.

You gave me a glimpse of the afterlife, didn’t you?

Because this is purgatory.

And you’re here to shut us down.

Your son is locked in the upstairs bathroom.



Walter! Sweetheart!

Sweetheart, can you hear us?

Is anyone out there?

Walter! WALTER: Is anyone out there?

NORMA: They must have locked it on the other side.

I can’t see. Please. Help me.



Sweetheart… WALTER: I can’t hear.

Please, help me.

Walter. Just back away from the door if you can hear me.

Somebody, help. ARTHUR: Walter!

NORMA: He can’t hear us.

He can’t hear us.

Stop it. Arthur, stop!


Arthur. Arthur. Arthur.


Dad. Please.

Stop. Stop this.


I can’t.

I can’t see him like that.

I can’t.

Oh, God.


I can’t do this.

We cannot leave him like this.

It’s the only way.

There’s no other way.

There’s no…

He smiled at us.


When you asked him about the afterlife, he smiled at us.

He did, did he?



…I love you and I am so sorry.

I’m so sorry for what I did to us.

You didn’t do anything. We did it.

So don’t apologize.

I love you.

And I regret nothing in this life we’ve lived together.

Then I…

…will count the days…

…until my Arthur comes to see me again.

I’m gonna push it.

Until we meet again. Yeah.

Let’s get on with it.



911 Emergency, how may I direct your call?

You said you heard a gunshot? What is the address?

7321 Park…

…in Antrim.


Hello, Mrs. Weller.

Shall I come in?


Walter, it’s your dad, I’m right here.

Can you hear me?



Walter, if you can hear me, just yell or something. I’m right outside the door.

Hands on your head and move away from the door.



I’m right here, honey. Everything’s gonna be fine, okay? Just hang tight.

I said, put your hands on your head and move away from the door.

Walter’s upstairs. He’s okay.

They assure me you and your son will be taken care of.


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