Tuesday, October 5, 2010
2010 Geek Fright Fest: The Cell
The Cell (2000)
Rated R (for language, some nudity, and violence)
Directed by Tarsem Singh
Dr. Catherine Deane (Jennifer Lopez) uses technology to go inside the minds of catatonic patients, usually children. The FBI comes to her for a strange request. They have captured a brutal serial killer, Carl Rudolph Stargher, but before they could learn the location of his latest victim, he slips into a catatonic state. They need Dr. Deane to go inside the killer's mind to save the victim in time.
As well as being a decent horror movie, this film is a feast for the eyes. I often watch it just to see the beautiful visuals. Director Tarsem Singh is known for his stunning cinematography (and, according to rumors, he is very demanding with his actors) and it shows in this film. The Cell is all vivid color, lush scenery, and gorgeous costumes. The special effects are amazing and I loved the references to classic works of art. (A particular favorite was the film's take on Odd Nerdrum's Dawn.)
The science behind the technology in the film is suspect, but you quickly become engrossed in Stargher's rich, nightmarish fantasy world. The lines of fantasy and reality blur for the characters, and for the audience as well. It is easy to see why The Cell won an Academy Award for Best Makeup and it exemplifies how horror movies can be frightening and artistic at the same time.
Jennifer Lopez and Vince Vaughn deliver solid performances, but it is Vincent D'Onofrio that is exceptional. I normally find him creepy (even as Detective Goren on "Law and Order: Criminal Intent"), but he is terrifying in this film.
Fright Rating: 2 1/2 gasps out of a possible five.
The film has a few moments of violence, but the big scares come from the weird, surrealistic imagery. You never know what to expect from this movie, which makes some scenes shocking when they wouldn't necessarily be in another context.
(I highly reccommend checking out Singh's film The Fall. It's not horror; it's just a stunning film that had me bawling like a baby by the end. And it stars Lee Pace, who played Ned on "Pushing Daisies", which is always a plus.)