Friday, 7 June 2013

The Cell (2000) - ★★½

Director: Tarsem Singh
Writers: Mark Protosevich
Stars: Jennifer Lopez, Vincent D'Onofrio, Vince Vaughn, Dylan Baker, Marianne Jean-Baptiste

What do you get when you cross Alice in Wonderland with Silence of the Lambs? You get The Cell. It's a bad movie... but slightly better than most modern horror flicks. You can put that down to it having better special effects, amazing costume design, stunning cinematography, and an interesting story. However, it lacked in terms of acting, character development, and perfecting the story. It had a hell of a lot of potential! Like I said, it was very interesting. Oh, did I mention that this is one of the weirdest freaking movies I've ever seen! It's the kind of thing that would disturb the masses, but it didn't disturb me as much as I thought it would. In that sense, it was also a let-down.

So there's this serial killer named Carl Stargher (D'Onofrio). He likes to drown his victims in an air-tight cell, soak them in a bathtub filled with bleach, then do extremely sick sexual stuff while dangling from hooks stuck to his back. Creeped out yet? Well it gets weirder! After Carl falls into a coma, Detective Peter Novak (Vaughn) turns to a scientific institute for help. They can infiltrate the killer's mind and find out where his most recent victim is. So these scientists send Catherine (J-Lo) into the mind of Carl to retrieve the information, where she discovers some horrendously sick and twisted images whilst exploring through his sub-conscious.

Feathered gowns never looked better than this.
Yes, this movie is fucked up. BUT IT'S INTERESTING. At times it was like Inception, with the whole "once a person is asleep, if they believe they're dead then they could possibly die in real life." That gave a small sense of urgency, but not enough to make it suspenseful. There was a real lack of suspense here for me, even though I should have been creeped out like there's no tomorrow! Truthfully, I found this was hardly a 'horror' movie, and more of a 'crime and investigation' film.

Some of the images in this film were absolutely stunning. I adored the scenes were J-Lo is walking through the desert in a white gown. When I saw that this film was nominated for an Oscar, I was tossing up which one it could be. The cinematography, costumes and make-up were so good that I thought all three could have been nominated. These things make The Cell better than half of the horror movies made these days.

The weakest point of the film was unfortunately the characters. Catherine never once looked horrified. Sometimes she looked sad and upset, but never scared. If she's not scared, why should I be? I wouldn't blame J-Lo as much as I would the director, for he should have said something like "can you put a frown on your face just so it looks like you're feeling something?" There was nothing to this character! At one point, she decides to go back into this psychopathic world of death and torture, just so she can save the little boy 'version' of the serial killer. That whole sub-plot of the film was so vague, especially her motives.

I found a scene where J-Lo emotes! Yay!
Vince Vaughn played the most negligent detective I've seen in a long time. Instead of doing good old fashion police-work, he jumped at the chance to get scientists to try a vague experiment on the serial killer! The answer to the whereabouts of the victim happened to be staring at him in the face at the start of the movie! It turned out this whole 'delving into the mind' business was pointless. Even though it kick-started the detective's memory which led him to finding the girl, the answer happened to be there the whole time.

Vincent D'Onofrio has a habit of playing the creepiest characters in the history of cinema. First Full Metal Jacket, then Men in Black, now this? I never liked him in Law and Order, but now I've gained a whole lot of respect for this actor. He did a really good job in this film, so I tip my hat to him!

Vincent D'Onofrio in his element!
The strongest elements of the film were the special effects, cinematography, costumes and make-up. I didn't care for the music, acting or plot-holes. I did like the premise of the story though. So in the end, I've decided to break-even and give it a 5/10. It was lacking in the most important parts, but was spectacular in minor details. I did enjoy this film some-what, but I'd never recommend it to anyone that doesn't love the 'weird' and 'gruesome'.

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