An over repeated line in Cell states that the speaker’s phone is “out of juice”. What is a juiceless phone? A brick. Well, Cell is as clunky as a retro mobile telephone, but without any of the significance, cult-status or curiosity of your iPhone’s forefather. You may even be better off watching a brick for 90 minutes.
On film, Cell is a poorly conceived and badly delivered rant about how contemporary cellphone culture is turning us into generations of mindless zombies. Readers of Stephen King’s original novel will be sorely disappointed in the result – a horror-less horror, thrill-less thriller, in which reasonable emotional behaviours get no coverage. Forget that the subplots and flabby middle go nowhere – the entire story is going there too.
This month, the ‘L’ in Samuel L Jackson stands for lazy exposition, which is not only his character’s sole purpose but also accounts for the majority of the predictive-text dialogue throughout Cell. But if Jackson just dialled in his performance, including the obligatory quoting of scripture, Cussack didn’t even bother to do that.
Speaking of wooden acting: the zombies. With digital effects made on a Nokia 3310, and matching sounds to boot, Cell’s horde are easily amongst the worst ever committed to screen. They move with unclear, contradictory mechanics and machinations, make electronic, squawking belches and their leader (for they have one) is called “the King of the Internet” – there is really nothing to say after that.
If you are tempted to watch Cell, don’t answer the call. If you have already started watching, hang up now. There is nothing to see here which can’t be found done much better by countless other bad films which put Cell to shame.
CAST: John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, Isabelle Fuhrman, Clark Sarullo
DIRECTOR: Tod Williams
WRITERS: Adam Alleca (screenplay), Stephen King (based on the novel by), Stephen King (screenplay)
SYNOPSIS: When a mysterious cell phone signal causes apocalyptic chaos, an artist is determined to reunite with his young son in New England.