Stephen King’s work is constantly adapted for the screen and it looks like critics would have preferred if his 2006 novel “Cell” hadn’t. Directed by Tod Williams and starring John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson, the film tells the story of Clay (Cusack), a man who witnesses a scene of chaotic mayhem when an electronic signal turns hundreds of cell phone users into rabid killers. Desperate to find his estranged wife and son, Clay teams with a train driver (Jackson) to battle the horde of murderous “phoners” as the city descends into apocalyptic madness.
Bob Grimm of CV Independent wrote that the movie “is easily one of the worst adaptations ever of a King story.” He also criticized the leads acting and the editing, “Cusack seems pissed to be in this thing, while Jackson is clearly bored and seems resigned to the fact that he signed up for a stinker. Eli Roth was originally slated to be the director, and he left due to creative differences. Maybe he was arguing that a film like this should be crazy and even funny. This film takes itself a little too seriously, and boasts some of the worst editing you are likely to see this year.”
Arts BHAM’s Corey Craft gave it one and a half stars out of five describing the film as unimpressive. “There isn’t much of a satirical edge to this material, making it feel dull and heavy-handed; the humor is sparse and falls flat; and the horror mayhem, such as it is, is unimpressive compared to any number of basic cable horror TV shows” he writes. “And all this is even before the plot completely falls apart in the final 20 minutes.”
“The movie should have gone straight to voicemail instead,” says Consequence of Sound critic Nico Lang. Agreeing that the story is better read than seen, he says, “‘Cell’ isn’t nearly as luridly entertaining as it should be.”
Patrick Cooper of Bloody Disgusting agreed with Grimm that the actors and the film lacked enthusiasm, “You’d think ‘Cell’ would be an entertaining ride. It’s not. It’s gratuitously grim and gloomy, with no real message to drive this misery home.” Adding, “‘Cell’ closes out on a finale that will justifiably frustrate most. The story packs absolutely no punch and the solid stable of actors look bored for most of he film.”
“Cell” is available on demand and will see a limited US release on July 8.
Watch the trailer below: