This morning, apropos of nothing, I got to thinking about boxes. More specifically, I got to thinking about some of my favorite fictional boxes.
Why, I wondered, in a country so full of industrious billionaires and their plucky, disruptor offspring, has nobody taken it upon themselves to fund at least a prototype of the Dune pain box or the Hellraiser puzzle box? What’s the point in even having a bottomless trust fund of blood money if you’re not going to use it to make cool boxes?
Perhaps it’s not a question of will. Perhaps, like the ill-fated Theranos blood box (RIP), the science just hasn’t caught up to the blue-sky thinking.
Still, just for fun, let’s consider a few possibilities:
The titular box from The Box (based on Richard Matheson’s 1970 short story “Button, Button”)
What is it/what does it do? It’s a small black box with a large red button on the top. If you press the button you receive one million dollars, but somebody you’ve never met will die.
Could a billionaire’s child actually get it made? There’s a lot of quasi-supernatural stuff going on here, so I’m going to say no, a billionaire’s child could not get this made.
The Boo Box from Hook
What is it/what does it do? It’s a large, circular pirate chest designed to torture a treacherous and/or lily-livered pirate
Could a billionaire’s child actually get it made? It’s just a box with a few scorpions thrown in. So, yeah, you could absolutely make this thing. You wouldn’t even need a billionaire’s child to fund it. If you want a boo box I can make you a boo box.
The “What’s in the box?” box from Se7en
What is it/what does it do? It’s a regular box… with a severed head inside.
Could a billionaire’s child actually get it made? I mean, yes, technically you could make the “What’s in the box?” box, but you’d never hear the end of it from the Goop board of directors.
The “fear is the mind-killer” pain box from Dune
What is it/what does it do? It’s a sort of test-of-humanity device created by the Bene Gesserit sisterhood, an ancient society of women openly dedicated to shaping the destiny of humanity through political power and eugenics. If you remove your hand from the box, the Reverend Mother pricks you with a special pin and you die. If you don’t remove your hand, congratulations, you’ve passed the test and get to live. You also get two front row tickets to the Arrakis sandworm rodeo.
Could a billionaire’s child actually get it made? Probably. It seems pretty straightforward. Get yourself a fancy-looking box, have your on-site neurologist tinker around with the subject’s pain receptors, maybe introduce some mushrooms. Job done.
The mystical puzzle box from Hellraiser (based on Clive Barker’s 1986 novella The Hellbound Heart)
What is it/what does it do? It’s a gilded puzzle box that summons the Cenobites, a group of extra-dimensional, sadomasochistic beings who cannot differentiate between pain and pleasure.
Could a billionaire’s child actually get it made? I think you could approximate the experience of the fallout. You could, if you were so inclined, rent a warehouse in the meatpacking district and stage a sort of BDSM Sleep No More escape room. Alas, I don’t think building a working cursed puzzle box is feasible, or advisable in the current climate.