“Cell” begins promisingly, misleading you into believing that this might be about a terrorist cell. The scenes are even more unsettling with the recent airport bombings, but “Cell” is hyper-violent and mind-numbingly humorless hybrid vehicle that gives us cellphones as the evil host of a technological virus.
With the Japanese horror movie, “Ring,” you see a videotape and you are cursed. In this movie based on a 2006 Stephen King novel of the same name, you hear a pulse and you become a crazy violent member of a hive mind. Yet truthfully, if you watch “Cell,” you’ll likely be zombified into gray cell death. The script by King and Adam Alleca gets us from the beginning to the end with a few stops along the way for CGI spectacles–mostly explosions.
The Blu-Ray features director Tod Williams commentary, but his comments aren’t witty or exciting. You do have to appreciate his willingness to the weather (a blizzard) and allow for some improvisation. Yet Williams has managed to make two fine actors, John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson, boring although part of the blame must go with the script.
Phoners are, in this movie, people who have been exposed to a “pulse” which turns them into murderous savages. Our hero, Clayton (Cusack) is at the Boston airport when all hell breaks loose. Besides indiscriminate killing and violence, an airplane explodes. I don’t know if this is in the novel, but the explosion seems excessive. In the special features filmmaker commentary, Williams explains that although he knows people aren’t supposed to use their phones on the airplanes, he felt someone would anyway. How that gets to an explosion instead of a bunch of dead bodies in the airplane is a leap I don’t quite understand. These people infected or deranged by the pulse become zombies.
Clay is a graphic novelist and when he escapes the airport, after dropping and yet saving his portfolio which we catch a glimpse of, he decides he must find his estrange wife and son. Teaming up with a railway worker, Tom (Jackson), he runs into other survivors as they run away from zombies. These zombies can run, but not at night. Not all of the people he runs with survive and some of the deaths are gruesome. Clay does find his wife and kid, but there is no happy ending. There were a few moments when the zombies looked almost picturesque in a Michael Jackson “Thriller” for the urban grunge set, but alas, no one breaks out in song or dance.
The only good thing about the extra features if that you learn there’s this cool looking drive-in movie place and that the actors and crew worked with the weather and incorporated it into the filming that came in on time and within the budget.
I can’t recommend this movie because it deadened my mind and the movie will likely end up chopped up on TV in some format. The best that can be said is that maybe some day someone will make a parody of this with a sense of humor and a great Samuel L. Jackson impersonation.