Phoned-in ter­ror fails to en­gage

Rutherglen Reformer - - The Ticket -

As great a writer as Stephen King is, his work hasn’t al­ways re­ceived the finest big screen treat­ment.

For ev­ery Shaw­shank Re­demp­tion, Mis­ery and Stand By Me there are what seems like dozens of duds – Dream­catcher, Dolan’s Cadil­lac and A Good Mar­riage to name a few.

Hav­ing read the Cell book, I was ex­pect­ing good things from this lat­est King adap­ta­tion. Af­ter all the plot – which sees a mys­te­ri­ous sig­nal turn peo­ple into zom­bie-like fig­ures – seemed per­fect cin­e­matic foil.

Un­for­tu­nately, though, the page-to-screen tran­si­tion falls way short of even de­liv­er­ing fre­quent short, sharp scares, never mind the bril­liance of the finest King-flavoured flicks.

That’s de­spite a fine, mem­o­rably manic open­ing se­quence that sees the ini­tial out­break cause chaos at an air­port, with peo­ple fight­ing, a dog get­ting eaten and planes col­lid­ing.

But it never reaches those heights again as the pace slows and the cast sit around chat­ting about noth­ing par­tic­u­larly in­ter­est­ing for lengthy spells.

Screen­play scribe Adam Al­leca (The Last House on the Left re­make) adapts King’s novel and much of what worked well in print doesn’t trans­late well to film.

The in­abil­ity to read cer­tain char­ac­ters’ in­ner mono­logues leads to too much ex­po­si­tion spout­ing and sev­eral in­stances of mo­ments where it’s not clear ex­actly what is go­ing on.

Tod Wil­liams (Para­nor­mal Ac­tiv­ity 2) di­rects and does cre­ate a few haunt­ing im­ages – in­clud­ing a good scare in­volv­ing a teen on a swing and a ve­hi­cle driv­ing over herds of the sleep­ing ‘in­fected’.

The pro­duc­tion de­sign ( John Collins) and cin­e­matog­ra­phy (Michael Sim­monds) are also both im­pres­sive, with earthy woods, aban­doned homes and cars and tight lo­ca­tions all ad­ding up to a world that looks like it’s com­ing to an end.

How­ever, Wil­liams takes his zom­bie movie in­flu­ences too far with an over­re­liance on ac­tion beats done bet­ter in nu­mer­ous other films from the genre; worst of which is a 28 Days Later-ap­ing un­der­ground chase and at­tack.

This may try to present a dif­fer­ent take on zom­bies – they aren’t un­dead at least – but fa­mil­iar tropes as­so­ci­ated with movies fea­tur­ing the hor­ror icons are lazily re­hashed; such as peo­ple hid­ing out, sus­pi­cious hu­mans, hordes on the at­tack and in­ves­ti­gat­ing a seem­ingly empty house.

Tak­ing them on is John Cu­sack’s artist Clay and the 50-year-old star fails to halt his de­scent into ca­reer hell. Sure, he’s de­cent enough here, but a long way off his pre2007 bril­liance.

Sa­muel L Jack­son’s ev­ery­man is one of his most low key roles in years and the lead pair are both out­shone by Is­abelle Fuhrman’s feisty-yetvul­ner­a­ble teen.

Any sprin­klings of good­will Cell may have cre­ated ear­lier, though, is ru­ined by a dire end­ing that’s poorly-lit, abrupt and makes the pre­vi­ous 45 min­utes feel ut­terly point­less.

Apoc­a­lyp­tic ac­tion Cu­sack faces the end of the world Cinema with Ian Bunt­ing

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.