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14 Jun 2016

Home Video Review: 'Cell' Wastes Stephen King's Plot While Illustrating the Decline of John Cusack's Career

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Samuel L. Jackson, Isabelle Fuhrman and John Cusack in Cell. Samuel L. Jackson, Isabelle Fuhrman and John Cusack in Cell.

Remember when a Stephen King movie was an event? Remember when a John Cusack movie was an event? Remember 1408, the John Cusack/Stephen King movie in 2007 that was pretty badass?

Well, it’s 2016 now, and Cell, the latest Cusack/King vehicle, is getting an on-demand release shortly before a limited theatrical run. Produced three years ago, this film was better off staying on the shelf: It is easily one of the worst adaptations ever of a King story.

Cusack, re-teamed with his 1408 co-star Samuel L. Jackson, plays Clay, a graphic artist estranged from his wife and son. Shortly after placing a call to them on an airport payphone, Clay watches as cell-phone users spazz out and get transformed into a zombie-like state as the result of some sort of pulse sent through the phones.

Director Tod Williams is utterly lost; he makes this a humorless piece of horror-satire wrought with lethargic performances, shoddy camerawork and terrible special effects. The origin of the “pulse” that sets off the zombie apocalypse is never fully explained, and no villain is ever established. The ending is a confusing mishmash of three finales, as if the director couldn’t make up his mind.

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.

The career of Cusack continues to spiral out of control, Nicolas Cage-style

Cell is available on demand and via online sources including iTunes and Amazon.com.

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