It fell down a well all the way to cinematic hell
Cell sort of flew under the radar during what was an underwhelming 2016 movie summer, and I felt no inclination to see it. But after hearing that it was one of 2016's worst and that it was really that bad, I couldn't resist any longer. One viewing later, I can confirm that Cell is indeed a rotten pile of manure that is a true disgrace to the ever growing Stephen King film series. This is the second such Stephen King adaptation to star John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson, with the other being 1408.
Cell begins in an airport where a man named Clay Riddell (Cusack) calls his wife and son and tells them that he'll be home soon. Suddenly, people begin to hear a loud, obnoxious noise coming from their cell phones, and begin to froth at the mouth and go insane. Pandemonium ensues as these people have now become rabid zombie killers. Clay is able to escape into a subway tunnel where he meets Tom McCourt (Jackson). The two set out on a journey to find Clay's family, while avoiding being killed by the hungry zombies referred to as "phoners".
I'll start by saying something nice. The premise of having things go wrong due to cell phones certainly has potential. Cell phones are everywhere nowadays and we have a hard time staying off of them. The zombie apocalypse approach isn't the worst way to go, except when this approach is so cheaply and dreadfully constructed as it is in this film. Forget suspense or exciting thrills. You'd have a more stimulating time going Bigfoot hunting in your backyard.
- The opening scene at the airport. This whole scene where everyone gets zombiefied is so unintentionally hilarious, and has you believing initially that the film is going to be one those bad films in the "so bad it's good" way. A young girl runs and bashes her head on a wall several times. People are getting thrown off of ledges. A burly black man holding a butcher knife comes awkwardly running after Cusack. It's one of those "see it to believe it" scenes that will have you in stitches.
- The film is so cheap looking. Basically every scene looks as if it was filmed with a handheld camera. The editing is horribly choppy, and several scenes (particularly at night) are poorly lit. Nearly every fight scene with phoners is incomprehensible, and made me think of the big city fight in the first Michael Bay Transformers, which also had the same problem.
- After the opening airport scene, the film becomes unbelievably boring. Cusack and Jackson, along with other survivors they meet along the way, simply go from place to place with a few phoner encounters thrown in here and there. Nothing is that interesting, especially because the film doesn't follow up on the unintentional comedy spawning from the opening scene.
- The ending. I won't spoil it, but it might be one of the worst endings to a movie that I've seen in a long time. It doesn't really resolve anything and flat out makes no sense.
I wish Cell could've made the most out of its fairly decent premise. There is some purely unintentional comedy in its opening scene which is worth a viewing, but otherwise, it has nothing to recommend. Cheaply filmed, lazily acted, and painfully boring, Cell is a waste of a zombie apocalypse.
Recommend? No. Just watch the opening scene. That's all that's worth seeing.
Here you'll find my reviews on just about any film you may have seen. I try to avoid major spoilers as much as possible. I structure my reviews in the following way: