Movie Review: Cell

Cell is the long-awaited movie adaptation of the 2006 novel of the same name by the literary master of horror Stephen King. It has been 10 years since the release of the novel and almost as long that talks were had on a movie adaptation. Eli Roth was attached to direct the movie first and then dropped out of the production due to differing views and because he wanted to focus on other original work. And even after King himself had finished writing a screenplay in 2009, it took years for the film to become a reality.

Fast-forward to 2016 and Cell was released to video on demand with very little publicity. I actually only knew of the movie by hearing about it on a podcast. Cell will also get a limited theatrical release in July of 2016, but the lack of advertising is disappointing for a movie that has been talked about for the past ten years. Maybe the only thing that is more disappointing than the push of this movie is the initial reviews.

Clay (John Cusack) and Tom (Samuel L. Jackson) are two survivors of an epidemic that is brought on by the use of cell phones. They both manage to escape an airport after the epidemic begins and meet various other survivors along the way, including Alice (played by Orphan‘s Isabelle Fuhrman). They are on the search to find Clay’s family, but must avoid the “phoners” along the way. And must avoid becoming one of the “flock” of these mindless zombie-like people.

The movie was panned by critics for being too dull and for poor acting. I myself enjoyed it quite a bit. I thought the acting was good. Cusack and Jackson are some of the best actors I have seen. They were enjoyable in 1408, another King adaptation, and I thought they worked well together again in this movie. Fuhrman, who was an amazing child actor in Orphan, was fantastic in her role. And the rest of the supporting cast was fine to me. And I wouldn’t call the movie dull either. At 1 hour and 38 minutes, I thought the movie flowed smoothly and did not drag at all. I never found myself bored and looking to see how much time was left.

Now, I must admit that I have never read the novel, so I do not know how much it differs and if that affected people’s perception of the film. But, overall, I enjoyed Cell for what it was. It was not the best movie I have seen. Not even close to it. But it was an entertaining movie to watch and be able to relax and enjoy. I have seen better King adaptations (It, Carrie, The Mist), but I have also seen worse (The Mangler, The Lawnmower Man, Maximum Overdrive). Cell fits right in the middle of those and is an enjoyable for what it is.

Daryl Karpinski, Jr.