‘Se7en’ Fans Have Found A Crazy Mandela Effect–Is Your Memory Wrong About This Iconic Scene?

Have you gone back to watch Seven (usually stylized as Se7en)? The 1995 horror thriller was a masterpiece of its time, and continues to give its fans nightmares nearly three decades later. Honestly, it’s aged so well it could have come out last year. But with time, some of our memories may be playing tricks on us. The most iconic scene of the movie has some fans scratching their heads on a rewatch. Spoilers ahead!

What’s in the Box?

Se7en has a serial killer setting up his victims to match each of the seven deadly sins. Each kill is tailored to the sin. Gluttony was force-fed until his stomach burst, Sloth was tied to a bed for ages while he wasted away. Each scene is more gruesome than the next. Still, a veteran and a rookie detective, played by Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt, try their damnedest to solve the murders before the killer gets to his seventh victim.

They succeed, or at least they think they do. They manage to arrest the killer, John Doe, played by Kevin Spacey. (Wow, Kevin Spacey playing a bad guy? Who would have thought?) He just has one request: To be brought out into a seemingly empty field in the middle of nowhere.

New Line Cinema

This is where the movie’s most iconic scene occurs, one that’s been commonly quoted for decades now. As the cops and the killer wait in the field, a deliver van arrives with a box. Morgan Freeman goes to open it and is immediately upset. He tells Brad Pitt to toss his gun, to not look in the box. Stop listening to John Doe. I think we can all agree that Brad Pitt’s performance, screaming “What’s in the box?!” is masterful. Of course, John Doe has to tell him. It’s his wife’s head. And she’d been pregnant.

Se7en’s Mandela Effect: Did you see what’s in the box?

A Mandela Effect is a shared incorrect memory. A load of people will misremember the same thing. A classic example is remembering the children’s book as Berenstein Bears rather than Berenstain Bears. Many people think this is proof of an alternate universe colliding with our own. After all, how could all of our memories be wrong? And so many fans are remembering Se7en’s box scene incorrectly. Check out these comments from redditors:

Did anyone else see Gwyneth Paltrow’s head in the box? I recall watching it in the theater and seeing Gwyneth Paltrow’s face for half a second. False memory? Or did you see it too? u/JamesRenner
I saw it. I wanted that two hours of misery at the theater erased from my memory afterward. No dice. I try never to think of “7”, but her head was in the box. I saw the right side of her face in the box. Her face was aimed toward the right side of the screen (from the viewer’s perspective), and it was angled downward slightly. u/alanwescoat
That is what I remember. I remember her eyes were closed and I would have nightmares that she opened them. u/dotchianni

These people aren’t alone. When I saw this discussion, I realized I remembered the same thing. I thought we got a quick shot of what’s inside the box. It was just a brief moment of Gwyneth Paltrow’s head. So I decided to go back and check.

Yep, we’re wrong.

We never see inside the box. And neither does Brad Pitt.

New Line Cinema

On a rewatch of the scene, it turns out that Morgan Freeman is the only one who sees the contents of the box. He opens it and reacts. The extreme reaction sends him running for Brad Pitt and John Doe, yelling for him to put his gun down. That’s when John Doe explains what’s inside.

After much yelling of “What’s in the box?!” Brad Pitt shoots John Doe. He never actually peers inside either.

There are two very good reason why we all believe we saw the contents. Firstly, the extremely well-done acting and gruesome dialog by John Doe certainly conjures up a detailed image of what’s inside, if only in our minds. Second, Gwyneth Paltrow’s face does flash on the screen, but only for a frame or two. Right before he fires the shot, we see her picture. But it’s not the head in the box, it’s a still of smiling Gwyneth from earlier in the movie. No blood or gore, just a happy wife talking to her especially handsome husband.

Is this a glitch in the Matrix? Proof of the Mandela Effect, a collision of an alternate universe? Decide for yourself.

Trisha’s your resident tarot reader, rom-com lover, and horror connoisseur. In addition to using her vast knowledge of all things cinema for Thought Catalog’s TV + Movies entertainment section, she also offers her astrological and tarot expertise to Collective World. Trisha splits her time between making art and being awesome.

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