Friday, October 4, 2019

Movie Review: "Cell" (2016)

Director: Tod Williams
Year: 2016
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 54 minutes

When a mysterious cell signal turns people into violent zombie-like creatures, one father is determined to get back home to find his son and make sure he is safe.

Samuel L. Jackson, Isabelle Fuhrman, and John Cusack scouer New England to find survivors of a deadly cell phone plague in a movie still for the 2016 film "Cell"
"Us three are like bugs who had the dumb luck to avoid the stomp of the giant's foot." (Image Source)
Can you hear me now? Because if you can, it's too late. "Cell" is directed by Tod Williams, who also helmed the films "The Door in the Floor" and "Paranormal Activity 2." The screenplay is written by Adam Alleca along with Stephen King, and it is based on King's own novel of the same name. The story revolves around a graphic novel artist named Clay (John Cusack), who has just closed a big deal for all his artwork and ideas. Upon arriving at an airport, he calls his wife (Clark Sarullo), from whom he is separated, to share the news and to express a desire to see their son Johnny (Ethan Andrew Casto) again. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately for him), his cell phone dies before he can complete the conversation. Minutes later, a mysterious signal gets sent throughout all cellular networks, and any person who was on a cell phone at the time suddenly goes into a violent rage and starts attacking each other. Chaos breaks out, and those not affected by the signal flee for their lives. Clay runs into the subway tunnels where he meets a train conductor named Tom (Samuel L. Jackson), who leads him from the underground out onto the street. Clay is determined to get back to his son, so he and Tom head back to his house to regroup and make a plan. Tom and Alice (Isabelle Fuhrman), Clay's neighbor, decided to help him get there and hopefully find sanctuary...if it exists anymore.
Movie still for 2016 horror film Cell where John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, and stumble upon Stacy Keach and a pile of dead bodies
"What is a brain? It's just a big ol' hard drive." (Image Source)
We have heard some terrible things about "Cell" in the years since its release. We have heard some call it the worst movie of 2016, so we braced ourselves for something truly horrendous. Though this movie is not good at all, and while it's painfully obvious why it sat on a shelf for years, it isn't anywhere near the worst film of 2016, a year that gave us the stains on society known as "Norm of the North," "Nine Lives," "Meet the Blacks," and "Dirty Grandpa."

The biggest problem with "Cell" is that the concept is a bit goofy. It's also super contrived, and it's never clear what the hell is actually going on. People who go into this movie looking for answers as to how, why, or who caused this phenomenon will be sorely disappointed because no rationale is ever given. There are many action scenes full of frenzied violence, and in those scenes, the camerawork is nauseatingly shaky. We feel like director Tod Williams was trying to capture the frantic feeling that the characters were experiencing in those moments, but he only succeeds in making the whole thing more difficult to follow. There are also some unsettling scenes of blood and gore, but nothing too unexpected. The one thing "Cell" does right is that it always kept us guessing who would be sticking around until the end. There are some sporadic moments of tension where we found ourselves fearing for the lives of certain main characters, but these instances are fleeting and don't materialize into much of anything. We think the actors do a decent enough job with what they are given, but the script is pretty substandard. From what we understand, many viewers do not like the ending. King's novel ended on an ambiguous note, and while we won't say what happens in the film version, it's much less open to interpretation. We rolled our eyes at the choices that are made in the final moments. It feels like it's trying to have a ~*shocking~* ending that will leave viewers thinking, but it's not smart enough to get away with it, so it just comes off as dumb and forced.
Cell 2016 horror movie scene where John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson find a man who has been infected with a virus
"Don't use your cell phone!" (Image Source)
We don't recommend watching "Cell" since the narrative is too silly and too sloppily put together to be worthwhile. It's not even a movie that's "so bad, it's good," so you're better off skipping it altogether.

My Rating: 2.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 2.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 4.3/10
RT Rating: 12%
Do we recommend this movie: AVOID LIKE THE (CELL PHONE) PLAGUE!!!

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