The Cell (2000) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Very innovative movie. The only one I've ever seen that was scored everything from no stars to four stars by the critics, and had pretty strong support for both a zero (147 votes) and a ten (274 votes) at IMDb.

On the surface it's the usual serial killer thing. FBI tracks down the psychotic killer, and then needs to do additional detective work to find the "one last victim" who is still alive. In this case, because the killer is in a coma, he can't tell them anything.

Sounds like a straightforward rip-off of Silence of the Lambs, so far, doesn't it?

Not so. The "hook" in this movie is that much of it takes place inside the subconscious mind of the killer, and it's mighty strange in there.

Jennifer Lopez plays part of a team of scientists which has invented a way to do the Vulcan mind meld mechanically.

So Jennifer links minds with the comatose killer. There are two ways to do it. She can bring him into her mind, or enter his. Eventually, it turns out that she has to enter his mind, and this is the really dangerous possibility.

And the really exotic one. Once inside his subconscious mind, the director is free to show any tormented images that might be in the mind of a completely deranged man who likes to torture women and is obsessed with albinism and drowning.


There is a great deal of nudity from one of the victims, including a quick crotch shot, and incidental nudity from other victims seen inside the killer's subconscious.

Jennifer Lopez wears sexy costomes, but no vital parts seem to be exposed.

It is a spectacular visual feast.

DVD info from Amazon.

The DVD is a great value. Anamorphic 2.35 - great print!

full-length director's commentary

many, many deleted scenes

special effects explanation

interviews with the crew

plus the usual cheesy stuff

In the pictorialization of the killer's tortures, the visual style is probably closest to Hellraiser. In the pictures in Jennifer Lopez's mind as she enters his consciousness, it resembles Hindu art. Some of it is pure light show. The director, Tarsem Singh, is an Indian with quite an imagination.

I have to warn you that this is one of those cases of a good movie that you might hate. My stomach was pretty queasy after watching the various and explicitly portrayed mutilations that he performs on himself and others. Not pretty queasy, VERY queasy. It was really too graphic for my tastes. So I strongly suggest that you not watch this as a date movie or allow your kids to see it. Especially keep it away from your young kids, or they'll have nightmares for weeks or maybe for life.

But if you really would like to see something spectacularly different, offbeat, with the ability to engage your mind and produce a rough churning in your gut, take a chance on this. It's not quite a detective story, not quite a scientific psychological examination, not quite a horror film, but a little bit of all three.

It's like nothing you've ever seen before and, in terms of pure visualization, ranks as one of the most impressive movies I've ever seen. You might be completely blown away by it, or you might find it the most repulsive thing you've evr seen. Either way, you won't find it tame.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: No consensus. There could not be a wider range of opinions. Ebert found it to be a masterpiece, some reviewers said it was downright awful. Ebert 4/4, Berardinelli 3/4, Apollo 76.

  • Rotten Tomatoes summary. 41% positive overall, and only 29% from the top critics.

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it only 6.5, but Apollo users went through the roof with 90/100 (I think the highest I've seen).
  • With their dollars ... successful. Took in $61 million domestic on about 2500 screens. Made on a $33 million budget.

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