The 2016 zombie apocalypse horror film Cell is directed by Tod Williams.
Clayton Riddell, comic book illustrator, is about to fly home from the Boston airport. In Manchester, his wife and son are waiting for him, whom he has not seen for almost a year. Clayton’s gadget has lost connection, and he goes to a pay phone to talk to his family. Suddenly, Riddell sees that everyone who brings mobile phones to their ears begins to convulse, harm themselves or others, show aggression and turn into creepy monsters. Obviously you can’t talk on the phone. An Impulse passed through the cellular connection, striking everyone who used gadgets.
Clayton understands that this is a global catastrophe. The first thought is to save the son. Johnny could survive, because he usually did not call on his cell phone, but only wrote messages. A long and dangerous journey to the north, full of blood and deadly fights, begins. The protagonist’s companions in survival are other survivors: Tom, Ray, Denise, Jordan.
Cell zombies are everywhere. But they do not kill immediately, but try to recruit “normies” (the so-called people who managed to avoid the impact of the Impulse) into their ranks. One by one, those who still retained their human appearance are dying, among them are Clayton’s friends: Ardai and Alice. The survivors desperately confront terrible monsters.
Arriving in Maine, Riddell finds a note in his house: the son says that “mom has become one of them.” And Clay kills the mutated Sharon who attacked him. He learns from the neighbors that Johnny has gone to Kashvak. This is an area inaccessible to radio signals where you can escape. But there, a trap awaits the heroes – a cellular relay tower that feeds the monsters.
The father finds the boy in the vicinity of Lake Kashvakamak, but he is clearly not in order. A fixed look, a wide-open mouth, slow movements – Johnny is infected. In desperation, Clay, clutching his son to himself, presses the call button on the phone: the detonator, planted by his friends in the van with explosives, goes off. The tower takes off into the air. Together with a herd of mobilozombies, their leader Torn is destroyed.
Such an ending in the film adaptation does not correspond to the ending written in Stephen King’s book. In the last minutes of screen time, the director demonstrates two possible outcomes of the zombie apocalypse.
The viewer sees a father who has defeated the “mobile infection” and a completely normal son, who are walking along the railway tracks towards the rising sun. Clay holds Johnny’s hand and says, “Come on, I want to introduce you to my friends.”
On the screen in total darkness is a herd-like crowd of mobile psychics. In the guise of one of the representatives of the “new human race” you can recognize the former artist Clayton Riddell.
It turns out that in the film, as in the book, the ending remains open. The only difference is that the reader is invited to guess independently the fate of the main characters. And screenwriters invite to reflection on the topic of the future society, the technogenicity of which is rapidly growing and rapidly developing.
The polyvariance of the finale of the horror film, filmed in the subgenre of the zombie apocalypse, is explained by the following.
In 2006, when Stephen King wrote Mobile Phone, the controversy was “on the crest of a wave” regarding the adverse health effects of cell phone use. Suffice it to recall publications in the press: about the relationship between the development of brain oncopathologies and the use of a mobile headset, about the risks of heart disease when wearing the device in a breast pocket.
In 10 years, releasing on the screen an adaptation of the book “King of Horrors”, the filmmakers would look ridiculous, talking about this kind of harm to the mobile phone: the time for hysteria is gone. The biological effects of RF radiation from phones have been studied and evaluated. Gadgets are in-demand attributes of modern life.
Hence – the absence in the film of frames with an unclear and ambiguous ending (as in a literary source) and the presence of two options for a possible interpretation of the finale: in the style of “happy ending” and in the format of “complete hopelessness”.
Most likely, after watching the movie, a person will think about it. So who among us, indisputably “addicted to a mobile phone”, wins today: “norm” or “mobipsycho”? Indeed, among people there are those who can easily do without high-tech means of communication. And there are those who sell a kidney to buy the latest iPhone. Some, seeing the flames of a fire blazing in a window next door, rush to dial 911 to help the victims. And others calmly shoot a video in order to post a video on YouTube that will bring the coveted “likes” for views.
The meaning of the film
The creators of the picture, together with the writer, touched upon an important social topic of communication. More and more people prefer mobile phone calls to face – to – face meetings . Or even spend time on social networks for correspondence. People cease to be interested in the outside world, loved ones. They only care about meeting basic needs and the level of charge on the cell.
The meaning of the film “Mobile” is that you need to devote more time to the real world, not to forget about your self-development. Otherwise, you can regress and become like those who are not able to think for themselves. In the abundant flow of information, it is difficult to determine where is the truth and where is a lie. Therefore, it is always necessary to treat various statements critically.
This picture can be called a dystopia, which shows what modern society can come to. Therefore, it is so important to learn to limit yourself in using mobile and other new gadgets.
The film received low ratings from viewers and critics. Many were dissatisfied with the adaptation of the work of Stephen King. Those who looked at the picture note that the plot turned out to be crumpled, incomprehensible. Many have reviewed the tape several times, and could not fully understand it.
Most of the reviews noted that the dialogues turned out to be meaningless and did not affect the plot in any way. Some blame the writer himself for this, noting that his books are no longer as interesting as they used to be. Also, critics considered that in 2016 such a name is a bad move, because the younger generation, who grew up on iPhones , smartphones do not use the words “mobile”, “cellular”.
Fans of the genre believe that the idea was successful. But its implementation turned out to be far from ideal, starting from the plot and ending with the acting.
Is Cell the worst Stephen King adaptation?
There is an opinion that Stephen King should not be allowed to his film adaptations for a cannon shot. The best films based on his books were made by Kubrick and Darabont, who wrote the scripts without his participation. And one of the worst, “Maximum Acceleration”, Stephen shot with his own hand. He also co-wrote “Mobile Phone”, and this film can compete with “Acceleration” for the title of the worst adaptation of King.
At the same time, Mobile Phone almost does not change the plot of the book. He crushes it, gnaws it, losing logic, coherence and the main ideas of the book. What seemed acceptable on paper turns into nonsense. People who have read the novel, at the sight of the movie “Mobile Phone”, grab their face with their palms. And those who have not read it will not be able to understand what others find in this book. This is what they will see without checking the original source.
Worst Zombie Invasion
The novel also has this shortcoming, but in the film it is brought to the point of absurdity. The fact is that the method of infection shown in the Mobile Phone is extremely inefficient. Yes, millions of people use their mobile phones every day. But other millions are not. Most of the military and police will be among them – they use walkie-talkies, not cell phones, so the enemy would be given a powerful rebuff. Moreover, the “mobiloids” at first behave aggressively, but stupidly: they crash into walls, they do not wield weapons. Kill – I don’t want to.
And as soon as people realize that the danger comes from mobile phones, the spread of infection should almost stop. Mobiloids don’t reproduce by biting, only at the end of the movie they find new ways to infect people. And that’s not all: along the way, it turns out that zombies hibernate at night and are completely helpless!
However, according to the film, the world instantly goes to hell. If in the book this happened at least gradually, then in the film it takes less than a day for everything about everything. Already a few minutes after the start of the events, for some reason, the heroes confidently say that the catastrophe is happening all over the world, although they can judge only one building. And, oddly enough, they turn out to be right: electricity immediately disappears, the police and the army mysteriously disappear (they were even mentioned in the novel), and there are only a few survivors – again, unlike the book.
And the best survivors of the zombie apocalypse are those who are made of solid cardboard.
Throughout the film, the characters go looking for the family of the protagonist, Clay (John Cusack). Because the rest have no families, no interests, no opinion of where to go and what to do. Other counters come across on the way of Clay by chance, sometimes literally at the side of the zombies, where a normal person would not linger. Some even appear for a couple of scenes, only to die a few minutes later due to a stupid accident or commit suicide. And they don’t care at all.
From the images created by King in the novel, there were some slurred snatches of dialogue. For example, the hero of Samuel L. Jackson once declares that all our morality-shmoral must be left in the past, otherwise we will not survive. Do you think he will ever follow this philosophy? Will he leave or betray one of his comrades? Hell no.
Can not understand anything
In the course of both the film and the book, the characters find out that “mobiloids” are not as simple as they seem. They act more like the aliens from Invasion of the Body Snatchers than the walking dead. They have a collective mind, their leader can inspire people with dreams and lure victims into traps. Who are they? Why did they appear? What do they want?
And here the crumpled script manifests itself in all its glory, because even intelligible assumptions will not sound. The book made it clear that mobiloids are a new stage in human evolution and that, having passed the stage of bestial aggression, they turn into something more, master telepathy and even levitation. From the film, it seems that they are just zombies, submissive to an incomprehensible psychic in a red jacket.
And the ending not only gives no answers, it causes even more bewilderment. A double ending with a twist in the spirit of “Brazil” could be a plus for the film, if at least one of the options summed up some results. In the novel, King hinted at the possible fate of the mobiloids and humanity, but both endings of the film involve only Clay himself. And what will happen to the world next – by this moment, do you really not give a damn?
And the highlight of the movie…
This is not an acting game – eminent actors do nothing special here. These are not scenery and special effects – they are mid-budget, at the level of a TV movie. And certainly not a plot.
It’s not even music, but one specific song. Hearing how American zombies sing the old hit by Eduard Khil “I’m very glad, because I’m finally returning home” (popularly “Mr. Trololo”) is a very sweet surprise that makes you smile despite everything that is happening on the screen.