Cell Movie Poster Image

Cell

(i)

 

Lifeless zombie horror based on Stephen King novel.
  • Review Date: July 8, 2016
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 2016
  • Running Time: 98 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Somewhere in here is a message about people spending too much time on their technological devices, which is always a good topic for discussion. But the movie doesn't dig very deep into the subject.

Positive role models

These characters are barely human, much less role models. Their main motivation is survival, although they don't seem to be that interested in it.

Violence

Shocking violence as people turn into zombies: howling in pain, punching, tackling, beating, bloody faces, a man eating a dog, head bashing against a wall, stabbings, shootings, fall from a height. A plane explodes. Zombies shot with guns. An axe to the chest. Broken leg. Dead bodies. Lots of blood. A truck drives over hundreds of zombie bodies, crushing them. Burning zombies. Exploding truck. A man blows himself up. A woman explains that she had to kill her mom.

Sex

A nightmare sequence shows a woman in front of a man, with oral sex suggested.

Language

A use of "f--k," plus several uses of "s--t" and "goddamn."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters drink somewhat frequently and heavily, mostly whisky, sometimes becoming slurringly drunk. Cigarette smoking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Cell is a horror/zombie movie based on a Stephen King novel. There are several shocking/horrifying, cringe-worthy moments as people turn into zombies, then lots more zombie violence. Expect shootings, stabbings, dead bodies, explosions, and tons of blood. There's one moment of suggested sexuality (a woman shown in a position that implies she's performing oral sex on a man). Language isn't terribly frequent but does include uses of "f--k" and "s--t." Characters drink frequently and fairly heavily, sometimes becoming drunk; it seems to be their way of dealing with the stress of their situation. There's also some cigarette smoking.

Parents say

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What's the story?

In CELL, graphic novel artist Clay Riddell (John Cusack) arrives at the airport in Boston, having just landed a book deal. He calls his estranged wife and son and decides he wants to see them. Unexpectedly, a strange signal starts emitting from all cell phones, turning their users into ravenous zombies. Clay manages to escape with subway train driver Tom (Samuel L. Jackson) and finds a distraught neighbor in his building, Alice (Isabelle Fuhrman). The trio hits the road for Maine in hopes of finding Clay's family still alive. Along the way, they discover that the zombies (or "phoners") are exhibiting strange behavior, flocking together and somehow signaling each other, which makes the journey far more dangerous than expected.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

This aggravating, confusing zombie thriller now has the dishonor of being arguably the worst movie ever made based on a Stephen King novel. Others have nominated Maximum Overdrive, Graveyard Shift, and The Mangler for that "honor," but those three movies are at least ridiculous and fun; CELL reaches a new low, feeling somehow displaced from anything resembling humanity. In trying to send a message about people spending too much time on their technological devices, the movie itself winds up feeling impersonal and awkward.

Interestingly, stars Cusack and Jackson previously appeared together in a superior King adaptation, 1408 (2007), but they don't build on any kind of shared chemistry here; they almost seem like they're in separate movies. King himself co-wrote the screenplay, and Tod Williams directs with a shaky-cam technique that's both lifeless and annoying. It's as if the movie were made by cell-phone zombies rather than actual people who've experienced social interaction.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Cell's violence. How does it make you feel? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • Is the movie scary? What's the difference between scary and gory? What's the appeal of horror movies?

  • What does the movie have to say about cell phones and other technology and the way we interact with them?

  • If you've read the book Cell is based on, how does it compare? How does it compare to other movies based on Stephen King books?

  • According to the headmaster character, a world of zombies would be better in some ways. Do you agree?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 8, 2016
Cast:John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, Isabelle Fuhrman
Director:Tod Williams
Studios:Saban Films, Lionsgate
Genre:Horror
Run time:98 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:disturbing violent content, terror, brief sexuality and language

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 14 years old Written byrebo344 July 14, 2016

Boring survival film with an awful ending.

Cell starts off hilariously bad, but it was just a bore despite the good performances of John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson and Isabelle Fuhrman , it was obviously cheap with bad CGI and the ambitious ending was just confusing. Grade: F.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing

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