In celebration of the DVD release of Tarsem Singh’s The Fall last week, I decided to rent The Cell for a repeat viewing. Nothing I’ve ever seen has matched the visual imagery Tarsem created in The Fall, and while I remember The Cell wasn’t that great, I just wanted more of Tarsem’s world. I can only watch his Bjork music videos so many times.
The Cell is sci/fi fantasy. It follows Catherine Deane (performed with amazing lackluster by Jennifer Lopez) as she uses a new method of therapy where she enters the mind of a child in a coma through neuro connections…yeah, it doesn’t make much sense. Anyway, she enters the mind of this troubled child and tries to help him. It’s during these sequences that Tarsem’s original vision comes out, featuring fantastic landscapes from the deserts in Namibia, and from sets (sets he insisted on building since he dislikes CGI) that will certainly impress.
Then we’re introduced to a serial killer who sets up an automatic killing machine and films his victims as they are slowly drowned (while at the same time providing them with food and a toilet so they survive as long as possible). Well imagine this: the serial killer falls into a coma just seconds before he’s arrested! Now it’s up to Jenny from the block to enter and navigate this horrifying human’s mind, and to convince him to confess where his last victim is being held.
The cast performs averagely. But I’ve learned never to expect anything from JLo or Vince Vaughn (I wish he would just disappear). The exception, however, is Vincent D’Onofrio who plays Carl, the serial killer. His performance is so subtly disquieting. The scene where he suspends himself above his dead victims by his own skin and pleasures himself is more perturbing than when Hannibal Lectur pulled the policeman’s face off his own in the ambulance and attacked the medics, and not just because of the subject matter, but because D’Onofrio has the ability to make you shudder with a mixture of fear and disgust.
The Cell isn’t as visually stunning as The Fall, and because of that, it’s much more difficult to forgive its shortcomings. The extremely weak plot and poor scriptwriting never really allowed me to get into the story. But it’s worth a rental just to see D’Onofrio.