Cell: Outdated, Clunky Apocalyptic Zombie Flick
Isabelle FuhrmanJohn Cusack...
Action & AdventureThriller
In 1 Cinema
Ten years after publishing Cell in 2006, Stephen King has stepped up to co-write the film adaptation of the apocalyptic horror novel with Adam Alleca; having the author of the original source material is a feather in the cap of any adaptation, but Cell never really comes together.
The story introduces us to Clay Riddell (Cusack); a graphic novelist who has just landed in Boston and is eager to speak to his estranged family – especially his young son, Johnny (Casto). After his cell phone loses power, Clay decides to use a pay phone, but midway through the phone call, he notices that all people around him using their cell phones are undergoing a rabid transformation with a strange signal quickly turning them into violent zombies.
Only just managing to escape the chaos, Clay soon comes across a train conductor, Tom McCourt (Jackson) his neighbor Alice (Fuhrman) and a young student named Jordan (Teague) whom he soon forms an alliance with. Eager to get to safety and his loved ones, their journey soon finds them crossing paths with all sorts of trouble including masses of blood-thirsty zombies – a.k.a Phoners – forcing the group to find shelter located far away from any cellular networks.
Opening the story with a relatively strong start, one is easily drawn in by the panic-inducing airport scene where confusion and anarchy soon takes over after the malevolent signal, which manages to burn through phones, begins to spread its menace.
Watching the zombie transformation is entertaining enough and set up the pursuit of survival well, but the story, set up in a slightly outdated and episodic structure, quickly begins to lose the tension needed to keep the story involving and the audiences on their toes. In addition, the lack of visual carnage and gore is perhaps another downfall for the production with Tod Williams preferring to keep things relatively safe.
Both Cusack and Jackson – who reunite for another Stephen King movie after the success of 1408 back in 2007 – are fitting for the roles given, but rarely find time or space to bring their characters to life.
Despite having all the potential to be a genuinely haunting and chilling zombie flick, the script feels outdated and clunky; under Tod Williams’ wavering direction, the film never really gets the chance to spread its wings.