The Stephen King movie curse strikes again. ”Cell” is a terrible movie, but there’s a difference – it was also a pretty terrible book. King tried to enmesh traditional zombie lore with a social commentary about always-on communications turning us into zombie-like creatures that only respond to stimulus through our phones or tablets.
The narrative was muddy, the rules about why people catch the virus and exactly what it makes them do were ill-defined, and even though it was a road movie centering on three disparate characters – ”Dawn of the Dead” or ”The Walking Dead” style – it never really goes anywhere.
Without diverging considerably from the book, the movie was always going to suffer the same problems and so this is a Stephen King adaptation that sucks which is actually King’s fault for once – not that director Tod Williams (”Paranormal Activity 2”) does much to make it very interesting visually.
John Cusack is turning into a successor to Nicolas Cage with his movie choices and increasingly ridiculous hair as Clay, a comic book artist who’s flying home to his estranged wife and son when the zombie apocalypse hits.
It comes when everyone talking on a mobile phone gets some sort of signal that turns them into crazed, inhuman killers. Because his phone goes flat just in time to miss the incoming signal Clay escapes, hightailing it out of Boston airport and somehow staying one step ahead of the undead-like hordes.
He meets up with postal worker Tom (Samuel L Jackson, who’s always had taste in films as good as Cusack shows here) and Alice (Isabelle Fuhrman) and the three go walking off… somewhere… to try and do… something, all while Clay is determined to find his son, whom he was cut off from when the world ended.
Apparently the victim of labyrinthine production and distribution problems, it was in the news a few years back that Eli Roth was going to make it. It missed a premiere date at a prestigious festival and only resurfaces now dumped onto VOD. When you see the film you’ll understand why – it’s a terrible film nobody on the festival circuit wanted to buy.