The Cell (2000) – October Horrors 2022

The cell2000.

Directed by Tarsem Singh.
Starring Jennifer Lopez, Vince Vaughn, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jake Weber, Dylan Baker, and Marianne Jane-Baptiste.


A psychologist uses experimental technology to delve into the subconscious of a serial killer in hopes of finding the location of his latest possible victim before it’s too late.

As I’ve probably said before, I have a worrying fascination with serial killers, and judging by the continued popularity of the various podcasts, documentaries, and dramas about them, it seems you all share that same fascination. I don’t know why others are so fascinated with them, but I am specifically fascinated by trying to understand how their minds work and why they do what they do.

While many movies have attempted to contemplate the twisted minds of killers, today we’re looking at one that offers an inventive and highly original take on this disturbing sub-genre, visually elegant sci-fi horror. The cell.

The cell It starts out like a standard serial killer thriller in which the detectives frantically try to find the latest possible victim of a psychopath who treats murder like an insane art project. It’s a decent story, well told, with the race against the clock lending the proceedings a much-needed atmosphere of suspense and urgency.

However, what allows The cell Standing out as one of the most original serial killer thrillers is the inclusion of sci-fi elements in which our protagonists literally step into the mind of a serial killer, turning the film into a surreal journey that is a mix of nightmare. of The silence of the lambs Y Beginningwith a touch of Matrix thrown in for good measure. Although, in any case, I found The cell to play almost like a more ambitious and modernized version of the underrated 1980s dream-based sci-fi Dreamscape, complete with a strange scaly snake-man monster.

The story is compelling enough to warrant a curious glance, but what really makes it The cell A must-see is how director Tarsem Singh and his team bring it to life, creating a cinematic nightmare that is vibrant, stylish, haunting and yet hauntingly beautiful.

Singh’s direction is impressive throughout, working with his team to create a highly stylized visual and editing style that shines in every frame. For example, a scene of an FBI SWAT commander explaining a plan for a raid. It’s a sequence that could have been shown as a simple showpiece, but is instead presented as a quick sequence of quick changes and quick edits showing several armed SWAT officers in place before they storm the killers’ house, the camera following them while they do it.

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Another example is a scene of FBI agents arriving with their suspect at a facility by helicopter. Again, this could have been a simple establishing shot. However, Singh depicts him in an almost silent slow-motion sequence that makes him almost hypnotic. These scenes are all the more remarkable for their elegant presentation, given that they take place in the real world. An early scene set in a child’s dream offers just a touch of surrealism to come, with the image of protagonist Catherine (Jennifer Lopez) walking through the towering sand dunes of Namibia being a beautiful sight to behold.

Once we enter the mind of serial killer Stargher (Vincent D’Onofrio), the film grabs you and doesn’t let go. Stargher’s mind images are disturbed and filled with images of dead women in gruesome masochistic poses, often moving like mechanical dolls to entertain their killer’s twisted desires. The eerie surrealism of the scene is only enhanced by the image of a horse hacked to pieces in a manner similar to a Damien Hirst exhibit.

These opening moments are shot with a dirty color palette and edgy editing style that emphasizes the unnaturalness and darkness of this world. However, as we delve deeper into Stargher’s morbid mind, things begin to change as the sun seems to shine on the darkest corners of this monster’s brain. Dark hallways lead into a sprawling, sun-kissed palatial throne room that looks like something out of Dune, with dingy, grungy imagery giving way to glorious, vibrant, bright colors that are sinister yet stunning.

The gorgeous visuals are complemented by inspired costume design that has dressed Jennifer Lopez and Vincent D’Onofrio in various bizarre outfits that I can only describe as nightmarish royalty. The image of Lopez trapped in a red collar with an intricately designed mouth guard stood out in my mind, looking like she saw herself in a twisted version of the Met Gala. Or just the usual Met Gala.

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While the visuals, costumes, and production design are some of the best you’ll find in a horror film, they dwarf the actors. However, the cast, led by Jennifer Lopez, do a solid job, although they can’t compete with the overwhelming style on display. One actor who manages to break through, though, is Vincent D’Onofrio in a haunting multifaceted performance as serial killer Stargher. We have Stargher in the waking world, a creepy sick bastard who drowns women to create life-size dolls, D’Onofrio playing him with a hauntingly quiet intensity that goes up your spine. Once we enter his mind, D’Onofrio takes the crown of the Stargher King, the killer’s idealized vision of himself, a white-faced, horned, shape-shifting beast straight from hell.

D’Onofrio fully embraces the surrealism of the role, projecting an air of psychotic grandiosity that’s appropriately terrifying and hugely entertaining, even if he’s sometimes dressed in ridiculous, glittery attire that makes him look like a demonic Liberace. However, while Stargher is an unquestionably evil character, D’Onofrio takes every opportunity to humanize him. One of those scenes is a tragic monologue about his miserable and abused childhood that allows us to feel the slightest bit of sympathy for this disgusting and pathetic creature.

I must confess that, of all these reviews this month, this has been one of the most difficult to write. The cell it’s a highly visual experience, favoring style over substance in the most indulgent way possible. And, if I’m honest, my words just don’t do it justice. You gotta see it for yourself. Suffice it to say The cell well worth seeing. A beautiful and highly stylized nightmare that offers an original sci-fi tinged take on the serial killer subgenre and stands as one of the most visually stunning horror films I’ve ever seen.

Flashing Myth Rating – Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★

Graeme Robertson

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