(US - 2016)
Directed by Tod Williams. Written by Stephen King and Adam Alleca. Cast: John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, Isabelle Fuhrman, Stacy Keach, Owen Teague, Erin Elizabeth Burns, Clark Sarullo, Ethan Stuart Casto, Joshua Mikel, Catherine Dyer, Lloyd Kaufman. (R, 98 mins)
Based on the 2006 Stephen King novel, CELL is easily the worst big-screen King adaptation since 1995's THE MANGLER, which may come as a surprise since King himself co-wrote the script. The novel had a bumpy journey from page to screen, first being announced in 2007 by the Weinsteins and Dimension Films as a project for Eli Roth, from a script by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski. Roth left over "creative differences" and the entire project fell apart. The Weinsteins sold the rights to others, Alexander and Karaszewski's script was tossed, and King himself was commissioned to rewrite the screenplay. By the time filming began, with PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 director Tod Williams at the helm, significant rewrites were done by Adam Alleca, who scripted the 2009 remake of THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. That remake was OK as far as remakes go, but it begs a question: how bad was King's script that Adam Alleca was hired to fix it? CELL reunites John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson, stars of the not-bad 2008 King short story adaptation 1408, but both actors have rarely seemed more disinterested in what they're doing. It's a badly-made, incoherent mess, starting with video-burned opening credits that make it look like a cheap TV show, and ending with some embarrassing CGI explosions that aren't even up to the standards of The Asylum. Remember when Stephen King movies were big events? It's not long into CELL before you realize why Lionsgate gave it a stealth VOD burial. It's an amateurish disaster that would be laughed off the screens if it got a wide multiplex release. This is so bad that even premiering in prime time on Syfy on a Saturday night would've been too gala a premiere for it.
|An exclusive pic of an audience exiting
a pre-release test screening of CELL
"Trololo Song" as a plot point (it sedates the Phoners)--coming off very much like an unreleasable dumpster fire that was just abandoned by everyone involved. It's 98 minutes of nobody giving a shit. Even by the standards of much of Cusack's recent work in the Cusackalypse Now canon (his stellar turn in the terrific LOVE & MERCY aside), the shit-the-bed CELL is the worst film of his career.