Imagine the following scene: It’s the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic and you’ve just returned home from an international trip. It’s getting late. You’re tired. You unlock the door, go upstairs, and discover your spouse nearly dead on the floor, gasping for air. Paramedics spirit him away without being able to say what’s wrong with him. You’re told you have to quarantine and cannot leave the house until you receive the results of a COVID test they’ve just administered. You clean up the house, fall asleep in front of the TV. And the next thing you know, you’re bruised and bleeding on the basement floor. There’s someone somewhere in the house with you.
This is the premise of Into Schrodinger’s Box, directed by Amir Ganjavie and Nasim Naghavi and written by Alireza Kazemipour and Amir Ganjavie.
The film, which will be released through Fandor in December 2021 and become available to Amazon Prime subscribers, won ‘Best Feature Film’ at the New Jersey International Film Festival and the Jury Prize at the New York Independent Cinema Awards. It was also screened at the 15th annual Exile Film Festival in Sweden.
The thriller focuses almost entirely on Sophia, played by Ada Shkalla, as she spirals into madness during her eerie quarantine. When Sophia calls the police about the intruder, she’s told an officer will stand on guard outside the house all night — but he’ll also make sure she is not breaking her period of isolation. Things get even more sinister when Sophia calls the hospital to check in on her husband only to receive cryptic answers from doctors and nurses. He can’t talk right now, and probably won’t be able to talk later. Everyone treats her as though she were acting irrationally. No one seems to believe her, and, as her ordeal goes on, she too begins to doubt her sanity.
There are several other surreal moments as the film progresses. At one point the police officers refer Sophia to a social worker who calls with a strangely insistent regularity and tries to help her understand what she’s going through. Are these all figments of Sophia’s imagination?
Schrodinger’s Box was a thought experiment in which a cat was (theoretically) placed in a box with a contraption that had a 50% chance of killing the animal. Without actually checking by opening the box, the logic of the experiment runs, the cat can legitimately be considered both alive and dead. This experiment has important implications for quantum mechanics and quantum computers, in which, in addition to the traditional one and zeros of binary code, there is a third variable, which is somehow both a one and a zero, or either. This film is called Into Schrodinger’s Box because Sophia is experiencing a similar situation. She cannot leave the box and has no independent way of verifying whether she or those on the outside are mad. Or, in, Schrodinger’s terms, if she is both sane and insane at the same time. The overwhelming feeling of the film is of being trapped in a situation one cannot understand.
Is there someone in her house, or is it all in her head? What really happened to her husband? Why does a social worker keep calling her on Skype? Into Schrodinger’s Box is a riddle that keeps getting more tangled before it slowly unravels in a shocking denouement.
This film is a striking example of a lower-budget indie film done well. While it’s shot almost entirely in one location, and it’s shot well. We’re in a well-to-do house in the suburbs, but the viewer’s eye is always engaged. Shkalla does a convincing job playing a strong woman who’s sanity is being pushed to the brink. The film also maintains a high degree of tensions and suspense with hardly any use of special effects. The writing here is tight as well. In a film that relies so heavily on making sure the audience doesn’t know what’s really going on, there’s always a danger of confusing the viewer. But Into Schrodinger’s Box always remains on the right side of the confusion/mystery divide. This would be the perfect film if you love a good thrill and are home alone one night.