Monday, October 12, 2015

Horror Movie Review: The Cell

How JLo looks in the serial killer's mind.
The Cell (2000) is more of a psychological horror than a traditional one. It's not well regarded, but I cannot comprehend why. The score is phenomenal, the imagery is gorgeous, and the plot is intriguing. Even the DVD special features have depth and a respect for the field of psychology. There's even this unique feature wherein you can watch the film without dialogue hearing only the score. So, here's the gist: we need to find where a serial killer has trapped his next victim who is not dead yet, but the killer is in a coma/catatonic state for which he will likely never recover and there's a time factor. JLo is a psychologist that specializes in a new technology in which she Matrixes herself into the brains of coma patients. The minds of others are represented by complex dream universes of imagery and symbolism. It is just SO. FREAKING. COOL. The symbolism is complex, but believable. During the course of the film we get to see what the serial killer's mind (above) is like, what JLo's mind is like (below), and another patient of hers as well. They are different landscapes according to the psychological structure of each person's mind and again, I just think that's one of the most intriguing ideas presented by any movie ever.
JLo is very Mary in her own mind...but she also kills things with a bow and arrow later.
I think seeing this movie is a bit of a therapy session in and of itself. Thinking of people's minds as landscapes is something that I've done ever since seeing this movie in 2000, and it helps me understand myself and others. Art in general is a landscape of the artist's mind in whatever form that art takes.

As for representation of women and people of color, we do have a bit of that in this movie. It passes the Bechdel test. There is a Latina woman and a black woman as main characters in the film. They are both professionals that are good at their jobs and respected as equals by their coworkers.
There's also many glimpses of this cute puppy throughout the film.
In the scary category, seeing into the mind of a serial killer is really terrifying at times, but I also like that we are meant to sympathize with him. Ultimately, he cannot be saved. It is too late for a person that kills people, but that doesn't mean they haven't had a lot of pain to get them to that point. We get to see what made him become the monster and we're meant to feel empathy, but not as a means to excuse anything he's done.
The killer is a sort of gleeful god in his own mind.
I really enjoyed rewatching this movie from beginning to end. It is a well constructed and thoughtful film. If you like visually and aurally magnificent films and the more psychological aspects of horror, I highly recommend "The Cell". It's not streaming and not at Joplin's library, but if you and I are close, I will totally let you borrow it.

Aesthetics/Visual Effects: 5.0

Plot: 4.0

Characters: 3.5

Score: 4.5

Treatment of Women/Minorities: 3.5

Rewatchability: 4.0


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