From Saban Films and director Tod Williams (Paranormal Activity 2) comes the film adaptation of Cell from the legendary author Stephen King. Starring John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, Isabelle Fuhrman, Stacy Keach and Wilbur Fitzgerald, the film is available now on VOD and select cinemas.
A man (John Cusack) begins a desperate search for his son after a mysterious cellphone signal transforms New Englanders into savage killers.
The novel Cell, which is Stephen King’s book about a signal that spreads from the world’s cellphones turning everyone who hears it, into a rabid lunatic was supposed to have been adapted years ago by Eli Roth (Hostel). That never happened. The rights eventually went to a number of people until director Tod Williams wound up with it and cast John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson in the lead roles. Those two were in another Stephen King adaptation a while back called 1408 (a movie that actually turned out not too shabby). King’s film adaptations get a bad rep… It’s hard to ignore how most of them are critically panned (including this latest one right here)… But you know what. I found Cell to be alright – hell that first 10 minutes in the airport was some of the craziest and most fun movie moments of the year so far. Absolute mayhem.
After our lead Clay (Cusack) is about to board an airplane his cellphone dies (in the nick of time) and not long after everyone else in the area gets a shrieking signal that emits from their cells and turns them into rabid psychopaths. They aren’t zombies per-say, but they do operate like a hive-mind — one hellbent on eliminating every other living thing they see. One dude runs out of the bathroom after his blue-tooth sends him to crazy town and proceeds to punch a woman to death, pantless and all. A police officer starts to chow down on his dog and a chef starts hacking people to pieces… It’s quite the display of violence but it’s pretty awesome to behold the spectacle of it all and I think it’s one of my favorite sequences of the year due to the level of insanity and panic that you wind up finding yourself in. It truly felt like I was witnessing the beginning of the apocalypse. These were some of the most shocking and intense moments since World War Z.
Not long after, Clay runs into Tom (Jackson) and the two stick together and try to survive the onslaught. Eventually, Clay decides to set out and find his wife and son to see if they survived the signal so Tom and Alice (Fuhrman) tag along for a journey of bizarre encounters and terrifying swarms of screaming “phoners” as they refer to those who have turned from the signal. I really loved the ‘internet dial up to eleven’ sound that the phoners made when they were communicating with one another – incredibly eerie and original. If you thought this was another zombie movie, you’re wrong there.
Where Cell starts to run into trouble is in it’s performances… I truly felt that Jackson did not give a single shit about being here. As for Cusack, he was slightly better but something felt off about his performance too and also, is it just me or is he turning into Nic Cage? That hairline he’s rocking is damn close to Nic Cage level hairline and it kinda freaked me out to be honest. He looked awkward most of the time and it bugged me.
King himself apparently wrote the screenplay for Cell and due to fan complaints about the open-ending of the novel, he decided to change it for the movie. As it turns out – even when given the chance to rectify one of his novel endings, he still fucks up because the ending or duelling endings of Cell are equally as ridiculous. The way they pieced them together here felt awkward as well, so I don’t know if it was a screenplay error or an editing flaw, but the way Cell wraps up felt hasty and odd.
I appreciate Cell for what it’s worth though and to be honest I really did have a good time for the first half of the movie because I felt jittery and panicked to be put in these horrifying situations with our crew of survivors. The chaotic violence of that opening airport scene will stick with me for a while, much in the same way pages of Garth Ennis’ Crossed comic series has.