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The Cell
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The Cell (2000)

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Plot Summary:
"Catharine Deane is a psychotherapist who is part of a revolutionary new treatment which allows her mind to literally enter the mind of her patients. Her experience in this method takes an unexpected turn when an FBI agent comes to ask for a desperate favour. They had just tracked down a notorious serial killer, Carl Stargher, whose MO is to abduct women one at a time and place them in a secret area where they are kept for about 40 hours until they are slowly drowned. Unfortunately, the killer has fallen into an irreversible coma which means he cannot confess where he has taken his latest victim before she dies. Now, Catherine Deane must race against time to explore the twisted mind of the killer to get the information she needs, but Stargher's damaged personality poses dangers that threaten to overwhelm her."

Reviewer: Nathan Roscoe @horrorasylum
Review Date: 31 October 2001 My Rating: out of 5


From the film's very first shot, which resembles an impressionistic painting, The Cell asserts it's visual power. The opening image, a wash of yellow, is offset by a shimmering dark splodge that fuses into a vision of Jennifer Lopez on a black horse; a solitary figure in white riding along the perimeter of a mountainous sand dune. Dismounting, Ms Lopez ascends the dune on foot, leaving behind her a trail of footsteps that arch to the summit in a dotted line.

Ironically, the scene turns out to be a mental 'encounter' between a therapist and her comatose patient - a young boy suffering from a rare neurological disorder. Yet with the aid of cutting-edge science, Catherine Deane (Lopez) can somehow 'enter' the subconscious of her subject and reach the innermost portals of his mind.

The tension steps up a notch when a deranged serial killer (D'Onofrio) enters a similarly comatose state, and Catherine is called upon by FBI agent Peter Novack (Vaughn) to help locate the killer's latest victim - a young woman locked away in a secret, booby-trapped chamber (the 'cell' of the title). If Catherine can enter the psychopath's twisted mindscape, then maybe she can find a clue as to the whereabouts of the missing girl.

Recalling elements of Coma, Dreamscape, The Lawnmower Man and Seen, The Cell is a highly stylized thriller that employs simplistic psychology to justify its warped agenda.

The director, Tarsem Singh, displays an extraordinary imagination that exploits both theatrical and computerized effects. Whilst audiences may marvel at his visual invention, it is the depraved humiliation of helpless women that sticks uncomfortably in the memory.

For instance, in one scene the killer lifts a naked female corpse from a bath of bleach and lays her on a slab. Suspending himself directly above her via fourteen hooks pierced through his back and legs, he watches a re-run of her murder by drowning as he undergoes a sexual epiphany.

And if that gives you the shivers, be warned - there is worse still to come when Catherine unlocks the demons in his mind.

Boasting some wonderful cinematography, rich costumes, trippy sets and a fine score by Howard Shore that incorporates a great deal of Moroccan music, The Cell is an intense experience indeed. Inspired, depraved, unforgettable cinema.

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