Dir. Tod Williams
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
Stephen King lives by his name name when it comes to the title of horror. Almost 50 years in the business and he is still capable of bringing original stories to the horror community. Despite being an avid writer, his books have been developed into some of the genres most successful films. THE SHINING, CARRIE, IT, MISERY to name a few and just when you think he's on the the brink of retiring, King gives us some of this generations most interesting tales. The stamp the King has on the genre is his ability to create character in familiar tales. SALEM'S LOT was no more than a retelling of NOSFERATU yet still holds its own. CARRIE was a teen drama that was grounded by its relatable lead despite its supernatural undertones and 11.22.63 is time travel and political thriller carried by a likable lead. CELL is no different and shifts its focus from the apocalyptic battle cries so many zombie films before it show, in favour of character and heart.
CELL is in principle a zombie story that is enticed by mobile devices, leaving those in the signal area succumb to rage that lures its victims to its origin. The modern take on the genre may seem original on paper but the effects are the same, which certainly is no bad thing when it comes to zombies. Even the adaptation of WORLD WAR Z failed to capture the originality of the book which in itself rewrote the genre be changing the viewpoint of the virus.
And CELL does not wait to start events as an airport is first to feel the virus which soon takes its toll on the local town as John Cusack (IDENTITY, GRAND PIANO), Samuel L. Jackson (1408) and Isabelle Fuhrman (ORPHAN) fight off the infected and battle to destroy the signal once and for all.
Amidst barren wastelands and abandoned homes, once the action kicks off, CELL is nothing more than a survival movie with shots fired at the rage inflicted victims and scares provided in the quietest of moments. But it is the powerhouse performances of John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson that carry this above some of the other undead cinema that has been seen in recent years. Not being their first collaboration with King material, the duo team up with PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 director Tod Williams to great effect. Where their previous engagement, 1408, bought a classic ghost story to life, CELL does the same for the apocalypse.
If we had our way, the pair would helm a complete re-run of all of Kings works and I doubt there would be little to complain about with whichever material they touched next.