Devouring Mother – “The Box”

“What’s in the box?” – Detective David Mills “Se7en”

You spend the entirety of this short film with that exact question on your mind. In “The Box”, one of the four shorts done in “XX”, you are presented with a typical family: mother, father, daughter, son. One day, on the subway, they encounter a man with a wrapped box which he claims is a present. The son widdles his way into getting a look inside and thus starts the downhill slide. He stops eating. Then, like an infection, the lack of hunger passes to his sister, and finally to his father. However, my favorite scene in the whole piece lasts for about one minute and is the grisliest part of the whole film.

Mother lies down to sleep after having asked father about what he and the son talked about. Her concern is hyper-present. He gives her a non-committal answer and goes to sleep. Then a camera cut followed by the camera panning down the mother’s body. As it moves, the viewer notices first spots of blood, then you see her ruined arm followed by her destroyed leg. Yet you know from the beginning of the shot, she is alive. Father cuts away portions of her flesh and offers them to their children. However, watching the family consume her flesh is not the strangest part. The final shot of that scene is a shot of the mother’s face as she breaks into a smile.

The concept of the devouring mother is the mother devouring her young. Instead we are given the idea of the family devouring the mother. The entire scene is done superbly. They don’t spend much time on the grotesquerie, which would have detracted, but stay on the main idea: the family coming together. Her smile signifies her return to the family, her being included again, and the return to happiness that brings.

The viewer is never told what’s in the box. In fact, we’re lead to believe nothing was in the box at all. An idea, which coupled with the mother being the only survivor, must add to her guilt.

“I’m so hungry.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *