Watch This Now: Crazy What's in the Box? Short Film!

March 18, 2009
Source: SlashFilm

What's in the Box?

Soon the world will find out… Holy f**k! My good friend Pete of SlashFilm called me up this morning and told me about an awesome video he had found called What's in the Box?. He pointed me to its YouTube page where I watched the full 8 minute short film and it's pretty badass. However, we're not exactly sure what this is yet - another viral marketing game, an animation demo reel, or just a short film? Either way, before we get into any deeper discussion, you need to watch this. I've added the high quality YouTube embed below, though the info says it "will be deleted soon." So hurry up and watch this before it gets deleted!

The info on the YouTube page has a link to this website - There is not much there besides a glowing, pulsating box with a question mark. Occasionally, when the box glows red, the block of credit text at the bottom changes to a bunch of question marks. I haven't looked closely enough, but maybe there is something hidden in there. Pete of SlashFilm thinks this is just a special effects demo reel, a damn good one at that. We hope that it's a new viral, but we don't know what it would be for, since it's a Dutch production. We'll let you know if anything is uncovered. For now, it's time to ask: What's in the Box?

Find more posts: Cool Stuff, To Watch, Viral Marketing



it's deleted already... guess i was pretty slow...

miracle disease on Mar 18, 2009


Oh wait, it's still working... I just got to fix my embed code! Go to this YouTube link in the meantime:

Alex Billington on Mar 18, 2009



Ryan on Mar 18, 2009


That was AWESOME! I'm a huuuge half life/LOST fan and I thought that was just fun and exciting to watch. I have no idea what they're selling, but I'm buying! So cool - Made my day!

Nick Sears on Mar 18, 2009


Yeah, it's a Half Life 2 film Alex. Check out the first one that came out, here:

Echelon on Mar 18, 2009


reminds me a whole lot of cloverfield.

Jay Selis on Mar 18, 2009


It's got music from LOST and sfx from Half Life. So for that reason, I'm going with a demo film, too. Also because it says "Demo_film 2009" on the bottom left. But it'd be wicked cool if I was wrong and if this was a viral campaign for something amazing. It's very reminiscent of Half Life, which is awesome.

The Shoes Dude on Mar 18, 2009


Half Life 2 sound effects...

dRailer on Mar 18, 2009


I liked it! Anyone else get a 'Half-Life' vibe from it?

nate on Mar 18, 2009


Ok, there is already a really cool Half Life 2 (amazing PC FPS game) fan movie being released, so that probably isn't what this is but: --The towers going into the sky look to be similar to those in Half Life 2. --The voices of the white suit guys are identical to those of the Combine soldiers in HL 2 and in fact may just be the actual sound files from the game (they look similar, they wear gas masks and white suits, the white suited ones appear in the Combine HQ near the end of the game) -- When they discover him on the train, the alarm noise is ripped from HL2 -- The person wears a computer \ brain type thing, in HL2 you wear a special suit -- The sound effects for the heli gunship \ missiles are ripped from HL2 -- The heli gunship is in HL 1 (but in HL2 it's more organic). -- The singularity thing in the sky with the towers is from the end of HL2 It's pretty cool, but i think it;s just what it says: a demo film. One made by someone who play and like the Half Life games!

chris on Mar 18, 2009


heh you guys beat me to the Half Life stuff while i was writing it out! I;ve taken a screen shot before and after you get the ??? to appear over the text, could leave letters to spell out some words!

chris on Mar 18, 2009


Holy shit. What was that?

Clark M. Lamson on Mar 18, 2009


That was a pretty sick half-lifey kind of film. Some students with a jacked copy of Maya and Boujou with a little Shake thrown in for good measure.

Lincoln Smith on Mar 18, 2009


jejejeje You liked it? All I can say is that is made in Holland... Cheers. Ro

Roderick on Mar 18, 2009


well one of the writers name is an anagram of 'Suitable Hint' The missing letters and what they leave \ make don't seem to offer much help, and considering it could be in dutch anyway, i don't have the patience to dig further! The source code for the site reads: Every medium, as its ancestors Every pro, has his anti's, now you think about that I think it's a typo and should read 'Has it's ancestors'...would be helpful if the clever website peoples cryptic clues actually made sense LOL

chris on Mar 18, 2009


well the ticker in the beginning says something like "largest collapse since black mesa" so it would seem taht it certainly must be hl related.

matt on Mar 18, 2009



xerxerxex on Mar 18, 2009


For sure, HALF-LIFE movie. It just had that HL feel. From the baddies, to the special effects, to the box itself. HALF-LIFE MOVIE!!!!

David on Mar 18, 2009


I bet it's the new Nintendo system...

L on Mar 18, 2009


Makes me proud to be a dutchman

Boris on Mar 18, 2009


dude, amazing! Half-Life fan myself and i about shit myself when i started catching on to what i was watching.... great work really-i'd like to know more about the guys that put this together.

Nick S. on Mar 18, 2009


Its not HL the movie, and its not from some major production company. Its just a Demo reel someone created. If it was from some major production company they would either soon be in court or be in some kind of legal action. And I dont think any new movie such as HL (even if it were real) to use music from an already known media art. My 2 cents. Demo reel as stated.

Mike Balrog on Mar 18, 2009


After watching War of the Worlds I couldnt help but think, they need to make a Half Life movie, I'd rather get a HL 1 movie then a few years later a HL2 movie, but from the stuff online it seems like HL2 is being targeted.

Richard on Mar 18, 2009


I just actually don't remember any mysterious box in HL1 or 2 but I haven't played the episodes yet even tho I have them.

Richard on Mar 18, 2009


heres a fact you didn't know "What's in the Box" is also the name of episode number 144 of the popular television series The Twilight Zone

moovieboy1 on Mar 18, 2009


okay..... what happens in that episode 26....

Sean on Mar 18, 2009


@sean Synopsis Joe and Phyllis are an old married couple who don’t get along well. Joe gets home from his job as a cab driver late one night and Phyllis starts jumping to conclusions about him seeing another woman. In the meantime, a man is in the next room fixing their broken TV. The man leaves and their TV starts getting channel 10 which is a station that sees into the past, present, and future of Joe and Phyllis’ lives. However, only Joe can see this channel. The TV shows Joe’s fate by showing him how he kills Phyllis in a fight, his trial where he is found guilty for murder, and how he is to die in the electric chair. Phyllis is convinced that Joe has lost his mind and starts to taunt and laugh at him. This angers Joe, and he attacks Phyllis and murders her, thus making the future shown on the TV set come to pass.

moovieboy1 on Mar 18, 2009


We're discussing it at Unfiction, and I managed to tweek out the words hidden in the red box on the main site - it's the lyrics to The Final Showdown! 😀 More info:

thebruce on Mar 18, 2009


on the bottem of the page only a select few are block out the might say something if put in the right order

Nick on Mar 18, 2009


it was cool i admit it but if the movie HL is going to look like it, meaning with explosion and gunfire from that heli looked like that, it's sad coz clearly those explosion and gunfire are way too CGI for me...

miracle disease on Mar 18, 2009


that was freaking awesome!

Sam-Graeme on Mar 18, 2009


When he puts the brain computer interface on, it has a message at the bottom that says "largest single collapse since Black Mesa". that and the sound effects being from HL, I'm betting it's HL2 Ep3

Iza on Mar 18, 2009


@ 24. i do not think we need a half-life movie, not yet anyway. I am sure someway down the line they will attempt to make one, but I think it would be difficult. That piece of footage however, is one of THE coolest things I have seen since the Cloverfield trailer.

Stuart Mellor on Mar 18, 2009


@moovieboy1 Thus, why am I seeing a hidden message in the box?? Why am I seeing in the numbers under the box a message that says "READ BOX FAST"? Interesting??

Jesse on Mar 18, 2009


The combine costumes ruined this short. This film is only intriguing for about the first 2 min.

vic on Mar 18, 2009


Yeah this looks exactly like early half life or something like what happened to someone looking at black mesa. But the beginning of hlaf life was in the desert at black mesa. Whats weird is that thing giant orb reactor blowing up looked exactly likfe the blowing reactor from the half life episodes. Fucking wierd

Cody on Mar 18, 2009


I never really played half life save multiplayer. Now I need to go get it. Gotta put down the Killzone first though. lol

Hey Ya on Mar 18, 2009


Gordon Freeman!

PJ H on Mar 18, 2009


whoa. wtf was that? lol whatever its for, that was an awesome viral video. The website is werid too. Man we need more info on this!!!! =) Dude this videos going to get so many hits my god hahahaha

buddhistwisdom7 on Mar 18, 2009


maybe this is just a really cool video somebody made for fun. somebody who knows how to computer animate. maybe its nothing but a cool little project for somebody to work on. who knows?

Marc Giguere on Mar 18, 2009


half life, definitely. picked up half life 2 last year = fucking amazing. if there is a half life movie... ever, this could be a definite blueprint. either way, this film is fucking badass

JP on Mar 18, 2009


that was SUPAH cool

-Peter- on Mar 18, 2009


a half life movie should be war of the worlds special effects with city of men cinemtography now that would own, both those movies gave me distinct HL vibes. I would be really really dissapointed tho if they went straight to HL2 and skipped 1

Richard on Mar 18, 2009


Video game half life movie go figure

JimD on Mar 18, 2009


Ok, Mister Gabe Newell, can we have our Half-Life movie in the next few years, please? No... Well, Episode 3 will do just fine...

m4st4 on Mar 18, 2009


If they adapt ANOTHER video game into a movie, I'm going [insert some crazy act]. Where are all of the original ideas, Hollywood?

Lacey on Mar 19, 2009


Looks to me that this isn't created to be shown on the big screen. I think its just a demo real, like it says in the bottom left corner. If you whois their domain you see its registerd to And that some unknown internet/3d animation studio.

m00m00 on Mar 19, 2009


I think the city is Nijmegen in the Netherlands (You can see a lettering of a carservice on one of the houses - I googled it). Would they do those kind of big movies in the Netherlands? I dont know ... Hard to believe this could be a international movie from a big company. I think it a work of some film-students or somthing like that - maybe a start of some commercial campaign.

Merlin Monroe on Mar 19, 2009


Ben on Mar 19, 2009


Just a tad bit more...

Ben on Mar 19, 2009


I'm gonna agree with #20... he box is the new Nintendo system... And its going to bring about the Apacolypse! See, what you WII fans have brought upon us??

nate on Mar 19, 2009


We just say EDEN PROJECT.

Tim Smit on Mar 19, 2009


Hmmm...really good short. I tried myself a few years back after I completed H-L2 E2 to make my own "H-L-ish" short...this one was alot better. Since we still are speculating on "what this is", I'd go with 1)clever student film, 2)Demo for an advertizment 3) Possibly Valve shoots a "test-film" before they make a new game?? No#3: Its not uncommon to shot a short of yr film before u make it, sorta practice, but does a gaming studio do this aswell? This short has some budget, not mearly hundreds of hours of nerdy post-work, plz post more Alex as you find out more? Anyhow, really cool vid, cudos! PS If you've played the H-L games, you know they are better then crap hollywood has delivered last 10 years, but that goes for most games nowadays, highly recomended if you have not tried the Half-Life games yet. And would H-L make a good movie?.....hellyeah!

SamIam on Mar 19, 2009


Agreed with #46, bring it, Gabe!

dRailer on Mar 19, 2009


As a few others have stated, it's pretty definitively a demo reel for a multimedia firm from the Netherlands.

Stiles on Mar 19, 2009


(My comment vanished, here's what I remember what I wrote this morning) Could it be that Valve-makers of Half-Life-film their games like this, before they make their games? It's not that uncommon to "test-film" something before you actualy start filming your movie, to get a feel of stuff. Maybe gaming companys have found out this is a good way to try a story out. Anyhow, cudos, great short! PS Half-Life would make a great movie!

SamIam on Mar 19, 2009


I'd love for this to actually be a viral video for an upcomming HL movies but it just doesn't have the hollywood feel to it. CGI is lacking, and when the guys in white shoot him from like 20ft away, he then proceeds to enter the closest house to him, where he turns to look out the window to see if they have followed. They come into view they appear to have allready lost track of him.... hmmmm. Mind you, there have been more epic failures in hollywood. Anyway it is still an OMFGUBBERVIDEO regardless of its origins. If there were ever to be an HL movie I'd like to see some of it filmed in this FPS way. It was nice in Doom and could be improved for HL.

JayC on Mar 19, 2009


I found this site

George on Mar 19, 2009


what's in that box?...

darthwhitey on Mar 19, 2009


Before the Half life 2 sounds even came on I thought it had a Half Life vibe. Especially after seeing those two towers and the swirling cloud above them. I would love to see a half life movie. And someone said they should use children of men style cinematography and I completely agree.

Dan W on Mar 19, 2009


I live in holland and that video is definately filmed in Holland: Dutch licence plates Dutch Traffic Signs and dutch shops 😛 But I have no idea what the video is for?

Rico on Mar 19, 2009


portal 2 anyone?

Matthew on Mar 19, 2009


This is incredible. Way too good to be fan made. And by the way, what did a box have to do with HL2?

Ajax on Mar 19, 2009


very nice

werdnafaz on Mar 19, 2009


That was completly from half Life 2, very good

Scott on Mar 19, 2009


Wow, this is freaking amazing.....

Nikita on Mar 19, 2009


1st instant you see that vortex you know it's from HL2. When you saw the guys you were like "are those combine or is it just me? When you saw the airships you shit because you knew you were right. If they don't make that movie they're pussies. If they screw it up they're assholes.

Wish01 on Mar 19, 2009


A lot of people seem to think this is a demo reel or something. This may be true, but if it's just a demo reel, why is there so much cryptic stuff surrounding it? For instance, maybe you've seen and I took the anti.jpg file into photoshop to attempt to darken the text and read it. When I did, the word "ATTAINABLENESS" appeared at the bottom in completely different font. Any one have any ideas?

Scott Danielson on Mar 19, 2009


it's the new easy button from staples

lvmnky1 on Mar 20, 2009


could it be for the reboot of hellraiser? when the lightning flashes on the website you can barely see what look like movie poster credits under the box.

lvmnky1 on Mar 20, 2009


Hi All! I live in Nijmegen (where this was shot apparantly) and noticed something you should see. There is a physics magazine called leonardo bode, and on the back of some issue's there appear to be a hint to what's in the box!!1!! What does this mean!!!!

Kreis on Mar 20, 2009


Someone mentioned it might be new Nintendo but why hasn't anyone mentioned X-Box? What's in the Box? Doesn't the button on the box look like the button on a 360? Maybe a European ad for a new Half Life game or the older one on the 360? I'm wondering why the Samsung phones are so prominently displayed, if it is a Half Life ad or movie or whatever. Maybe they will be in the game too. In game advertising. Is Samsung made in the Netherlands? I know they are really big consumers of cellphones, even bigger than the rest of Europe or America. They can point their cellphone at a vending machine to pay for a soda. Maybe you can do that in America in big cities too. You can't where I live though. Just my thoughts.

Moviegimp on Mar 20, 2009


i thought it was brad pitts wifes head coming back to life and attacking

Brian Ricci on Mar 20, 2009


so it was made in 2007. and it says soon the world will find out. so when is soon? 2 years?

Dan W on Mar 20, 2009


It's very clear. J.J.Abrams is adversiting his last movie! The sequel of Cloverfield

adolf on Mar 20, 2009


#76, you have got to be kidding...that little piece of work put Cloverfield to shame....Abrams is a hack...this shows some real talent....

moldybread on Mar 21, 2009


There's certainly enough hints/allusions/nicked bits from Half Life 2 but that's not really what's important here. This is a superb little slice of footage, shot with style and a lovely knack for surprise and intrigue. I want to know more, even if it is just a tease reel shot by a 1st time director. It didn't matter that the CGI wasn't immaculate, because the concept was. Hats off to all brave film makers - ignore the haters and keep on shooting!

mrbobbyboy on Mar 21, 2009


its a cell phone commercial?

josue a. on Mar 21, 2009


I am still STUNNED at the sophistication of this video. Either this film was shot with a whole lot of elements and then expertly spliced together into a flawless film, or this film has a heck of a lot of coordination. I see only one or two points at which the set could have been changed, meaning the filmmakers had to find kind of a large, empty area to set everything up. It feels like a promo. Due to dialogue at the end of the short, my interpretation is that this guy is apprehended (maybe they think he's the cause of the accident; whether or not he is, is debatable) directly before a cataclysmic event -- either an explosion, or an opening of a portal, or SOMETHING. Anyway, it feels like it could very well be the beginning of a story. I wouldn't be surprised.

DogChasingCars on Mar 21, 2009


A student from Holland made this video. Tonight he was a guest in a talkshow in Holland. He says that te total costs of this video was 150 euro and a pizza. 🙂

Rafael on Mar 23, 2009


lol ## 60 lol lol lol

werdnafaz on Mar 23, 2009


Appearently it was made for the "Go Short" Filmfestival in Nijmegen last weekend, it was used in a masterclass that was held during that festival.

Ser Tachyon on Mar 24, 2009


The 2 makers were on tv March 23rd; Short summary from the dutch: They are 2 physics students who make this in their spare time. They had very little budget, 150 euro (around 200 dollar). (The exact phrase is: "we made it for 150 euros and a pizza") It's a study to see if they could make the effects you see in the film. They want to produce a full 90 minute film like this. Since the viral was seen over 500.000 times on youtube they were contacted by 20th century fox and other studios. All of them were astounded by the low budget. The guys intend to make a film.

Laharl85 on Mar 27, 2009


If you haven't found out yet, this viral campaign doesnt end at the website. Go to to find out more backstory. I guarantee you this has nothing to do with Lost and everything to do with the Half Life universe. Just look at the logos on the bottom of the page....

Sean on Apr 7, 2009


I was exploring the babel research site, found a few clever easter eggs. Find the number the guy in the short uses with cellphone on the bus to get the status of the towers, then enter it in the upper left login box on the site. You get an amusing little error message. I love this short, I hope these guys get a job doing prop or concept work somewhere, I love the style of the displays and gadgets.

zohn on Apr 15, 2009


effective luck as consumers

Rene Caravella on Sep 10, 2010


Hay Dude , i w/ ur blog. LOL Please come to my blog

Myra Venerable on Sep 18, 2010

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