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The Cell (2000)
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Review Date: August 14, 2000
Director: Tarsem Singh
Writer: Mark Protosevich
Producers: Julio Caro, Eric McLeod
Actors:
Jennifer Lopez
Vince Vaughn
Vincent D'Onofrio
Plot:
A serial killer who gets off on watching his victims drown to death is on the loose, but not for long. As the FBI bust his ass, the killer falls into a deep coma, while his final missing victim only has a few hours left to live. Enter a therapist hip to a new technology that allows her to enter the mind of a comatose person. Once inside the killer's mind, the doctor tries to uncover the location of the missing girl.
Critique:
Not for everyone, this film moves at a quick pace, delivers a decent serial killer story, and seduces you through an infectious ride of cinematic paintings, ripe with originality, surrealism and otherworldliness. A big thank you to director Tarsem for slapping me across the face with this film and forcing me to wake out of my year 2000 cinematic nap. This is the kind of movie that sets a new standard for moviemakers. It takes the cinematic canvas and rewrites the rules with its daring use of staggering imagery, visual experimentation and camera tricks. Imagine a painting come to life. A story unfolding in a dual world, one set in our day and time, with characters attempting to find the solution to a mad man's insanity, and another dripped in a dream-state, a place where the unseen thoughts, loves and fears of one's mind are visually transformed into breathtaking sequences never before seen on the big screen. I wasn't sure if the balance of the two "worlds" would work, whether or not things would start getting complicated or if the director would just slow the whole film down to a pretentious halt. But my fears were quickly laid to rest, as the film grabbed me by the cojones at scene one and didn't let go until I was transported back to my seat a little over an hour and a half later.

But there were many other things that I really liked about this movie as well. I liked the pace of the film, which didn't waste much time on scientific mumbo-jumbo or inappropriate romance. I liked all of the performances, especially Vaughn, whose always been a favorite of mine and who delivers a good showing here, and Lopez, who surprisingly really clicked as the intelligent shrink with a big heart. And if you love her booty, you also get a side shot of it hiding behind its underwear, right after Lopez smokes a joint in front of her iMac. I also liked the soundtrack, which got really chaotic and pronounced when downloaded into the subconscious world, but perfectly so. And despite the actual story of the "serial killer chase" not breaking any major ground, I did really appreciate the new way that they decided to chase after the nutball in this movie. Go inside his head...it works! Oh yeah, one more thing. This movie actually creeped me out in several points. Not sure if it will give me any nightmares or anything (although I might regrettably find that out tonite), but the visual panorama of the serial killer's ultimate evil mindset just struck a chord of terror right through me.

But in the end, it is the film's unique style that will set it apart from all of the other serial killer movies in the years to come. It's a brave move on the part of the filmmakers, attempting to visually portray the deep rooted evil set inside the mind of a madman, and in this case...it works! Suspense-wise, the film certainly doesn't compete with SEVEN (then again, what film does?), but it more than makes up for it through its bold, cinematic experimentation. Kudos to Tarsem and Protosevich for pumping some life into this year's regurgitative movie season.
(c) 2014 Berge Garabedian
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