Cell (2016) Review


From its explosive chaotic opening to the intense and epic ending the brilliant cinematic adaptation of Cell proves once again why directors are constantly drawn to transferring the wonderful work of the legendary Stephen King to the silver screen.

The key is the story and it is shocking to think that during his long career King, now 68, has written over 54 novels and nearly 200 short works and can still come up with seriously inventive and impressively scary stories like Cell.

Devilishly detailing our reliance and addiction to mobile phones in its voyeristic credit sequence moving in and around a busy airport we settle on graphic novelist Clay Riddell (John Cusack) who is home from travelling and trying to reach out to his estranged wife and child.


Suddenly without any warning a strange electronic signal is broadcast across all mobile phone networks and the normal folk all around him are transfer into rage fuelled maniacs mutilating everyone in sight


Screams echo, blood runs and planes fall from the sky as Clay scrambles and fights to escape finding himself at a nearby underground station where train driver Tom McCourt (Samuel L. Jackson) is organising an escape.

Joining Tom the pair head back to Clay’s apartment where they meet his neighbour Alice Maxwell (Hunger Games Isabelle Fuhrman) and the threesome decide to head North as the end of humanity looms in an attempt to find Clay’s family and some form of safety out of the range of any cell phones.

Although containing the tropes and cliches of many zombie apocalypse films Cell is far from The Walking Dead meets Carphone Warehouse or a cash in on the popularity of the undead genre adding in many new and fresh ideas to the plague that ravages mankind all brought about by our obsession with our mobiles.

The “phoners” as they are dubbed flock like birds and behave with a hive mind causing the survivors to speculate not only how these beings came about but whether they are in fact the next step in evolution.

As Headmaster Charles Ardai (Stacy Keach) one of the eclectic eccentric cast of characters Clay, Tom and Alice happen to come a across in their travels says the zombies are Eusocial the highest level of organisation within the animal kingdom like ants or bees abandoning all privacy and identity to become one mass with only one goal to convert or kill anyone they come across.


Like so many other Stephen King TV series and movies such as Under the Dome and The Mist, Cell works as both a cutting social comment on where our social media obsessed society is heading and a terrifying horror film packed full of great jumps and scares as well as tons of tension.

Cell shares something else with The Mist in that the ending of the original 2006 book is altered this time by King himself who co-wrote the screenplay with Adam Alleca. Throwing the viewer in from the start the pace is perfect and director Tod Williams who also helmed Paranormal Activity 2 does a great job keeping all the elements together.



Cusack and Jackson make a great double team offering up nuanced characters that are easy to identify with and Isabelle Fuhrman more than holds her own alongside the heavyweights and the rest of the fine supporting cast.

An extremely well made and awesome apocalypse movie with Cell Stephen King resurrects the zombie genre offering a fresh, frantic and frightening twist on an overdone monster and making us fearful of our phones just in case horror is calling you

Movie Rating: ★

★ ★ ★ ☆ 



Alex Humphrey

Alex studied film at the University of Kent and went on to work for Universal Pictures in their Post Room gaining an inside look at the movie industry from the very bottom. Constantly writing reviews in everything from local magazines to Hip Hop sites Alex honed his critical skills even spending a brief period as a restaurant critic. Read more

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