Movie Review: Cell (2016)

Synopsis: A year after abandoning his wife and son to fulfill a dream of becoming a graphic novelist, Clay Riddell is in Boston hoping to return to them. However, shortly after his own phone battery goes dead, a strange signal goes over the cell towers and everyone on their phone is turned into a mindless and rabid killer. With the whole world going crazy as a result, Clay enlists the help of train conductor and Vietnam veteran Thomas McCourt to help him travel home and find his family.

Who's in it? The movie stars John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, Isabelle Fuhrman, Owen Teague and Stacy Keach.

Review: I added this movie to my library some time ago and my wife and I decided to give it a try last night because we were intrigued by what was essentially a zombie movie based on a book by Stephen King. After watching it, our opinion of it was mixed.

Zombie films tend to be a dime a dozen and I always give points to those that add some sort of uniqueness. That was the case with this movie. It wasn't a traditional zombie film, with the dead coming back to life and, instead, played on the whole "people are becoming zombies because of their cell phones" concept. I especially liked how the "phoners" acted in a hive mentality that reminded one of the characters of a flock of birds.

The film is genuinely creepy at times too. The phoners weren't just turned into mindless zombies, they were essentially cell phones themselves, able to broadcast everything from the signal that turned them to music. It was one of those details you would probably only get from someone like Stephen King.

Unfortunately, despite what I said above, I felt like this movie never really capitalized on its strengths. The pacing in this film is kind of slow, with too much space between the suspenseful moments, making it kind of dull as a result. 

In addition, as my wife mentioned, some of the movie's main plot points probably made a lot more sense in written form. The Raggedy Man (Joshua Mikel) is a great example of this. We knew he was a character in Riddell's (Cusack) graphic novels, but it wasn't clear if Riddell created him or if he was inadvertently basing the novels off of a real person. Either way, it felt like there was a lot more to that character that was being left out due to time constraints.

Final Opinion: It wasn't all bad but I think the movie wasted good source material and a strong cast and ended up not being anywhere near as good as it had the potential to be.

My Grade: C-


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