Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Film Review: The Cell (2000)

The Cell (Review)
United States/2000
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No
A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!*

"...incredibly chilling, effectively disturbing, and unforgettable."

Using experimental technology, child psychologist Catherine Deane (Jennifer Lopez) is able to enter and interact with the minds of her coma patients. Meanwhile, serial killer Carl Rudolph Stargher (Vincent D'Onofrio) is captured, but slips into a coma before FBI Agent Novak (Vince Vaughn) can find his latest victim. Now, Catherine and Novak join forces to enter the mind of a vicious serial killer.

The Cell is a fantastic SciFi crime thriller. The story continues with the second act taking place primarily in the mind of Stargher -- a mind filled with violent, sadistic visuals. Catherine travels through his mind interacting with several different Starghers attempting to win his trust and hoping to find clues to the final victim. Throughout this act, I'd argue throughout the entire film, there is an epic, engaging vibe that really keeps you hooked. Meanwhile, Novak tries to find clues himself, and finds himself in the killer's mind, literally. The Cell keeps its momentum until its great ending; although I usually enjoy the non-traditional endings a bit more, this one fit just right.

The Cell is very much like The Silence of The Lambs. Both films feature deep psychology that travels deep into the mind of a vicious serial killer. However, The Cell works mostly off of its disturbing yet subtly symbolic visuals rather than its dialogue; you can really absorb a lot of Stargher's character simply though the visuals, which is quite an achievement. On top of that, these are nightmare-inducing visuals that can keep you up at night, and they are very consistent during the second act; these are visuals that remind of the Silent Hill video games, or a Clive Barker film adaptation -- incredibly chilling, effectively disturbing, and unforgettable. I really like the implementation of the SciFi elements, they explain enough to hook you, but keep it limited enough to avoid boring you with too many technicalities.

Jennifer Lopez is great as the lead -- she has that sexy whisper voice throughout, but the rest of her performance is very good. I feel like Lopez has great charisma in this film creating an easily likable character. Vince Vaughn delivers a good performance, as well, although he plays it safe. I really liked Vincent D'Onofrio versatile performance -- very creepy and disturbing at times, but also remorseful when needed. The special effects and makeup are superb, still holding up over a decade later. The music and cinematography also effectively compliment each other to create an immersive, creepy atmosphere. I liked Tarsem Singh's direction, as well as the camerawork, as it was engaging and consistent.

Overall, The Cell is a fantastic psychological crime thriller -- one can even argue it's a fantastic SciFi and horror film since it uses these elements very well. The story is great, the visuals are engaging and petrifying, the music is epic, and the direction is great. The Cell is a well-rounded film that sticks with you.

Score: 10/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore, disturbing visuals, and nudity.

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