An F.B.I. Agent persuades a social worker, who is adept with a new experimental technology, to enter the mind of a comatose serial killer in order to learn where he has hidden his latest kidnap victim.
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 F.B.I. Agent comes to ask for a desperate favor. They had just tracked down a notorious serial killer, Carl Stargher, whose method of operation is to abduct women one at a time and place them in a secret area where they are kept for about forty 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.Written by
Kenneth Chisholm <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Director Tarsem Singh asked Tara Subkoff during her interview if she could swim, to which she responded that she could and that she had been a lifeguard. It turned out that she could not go underwater without holding her nose. Singh would have switched her role with Catherine Sutherland, but it was too late, and there was not enough money or time to re-shoot. See more »
(at around 21 mins) When Julia gets into her car in the parking garage, she backs up and is tricked by Valentine's ploy to lure her out of the car. She has to back up, because there is a barrier in front of her car. See more »
Two scenes featuring the girl in the water tank: one where she beats on the glass in the dark, screaming randomly, and another where the water comes on as she tries to eat, she counts to thirty, and screams when the water doesn't shut off when she reaches thirty (this sceen was, in part, in a version of the trailer)
A scene where, shortly after arriving at the institute, Peter and his partner talk by a statue (completely improvised, according to the director's commentary)
A previously unseen session with the child in the desert; the session is interuppted by outside influence, and we see a 'green man' speak for the technicians and place the fabric over Lopez's eyes as she passes out (immediately before the scene where one of the technicians says 'We have a situation')
An extended and modified version of the conversation between Lopez and D'Onofrio at the bathtub (where Carl is taking apart his first victim)
A modified version of the initial strike on Carl's house, involving a single FBI agent running across the street, over the fence, and onto Carl's lawn; he sees Carl, unconsious on the floor in his kitchen, via mirror (followed immediately by the initial infiltration)
An incredibly long and slow pan across the ceiling of Carl's room after the long shot of the schoolyard at the very end of the movie
The European version of the 'hanging' sequence, complete with Carl finishing the preparation of the body
'The Cell' is a journey into the mind of a serial killer and I mean this literally. The film is about the journey, about the world it shows during this journey, the destination does not really matter. In my opinion this journey through the mind gives such beautiful images other things do not really matter as long as they are not distracting. In fact, the story is pretty good.
We start with Catherine Deane (Jennifer Lopez) in the mind of a catatonic boy. How this works exactly does not really matter, but it looks a lot like virtual reality. She and other scientist including Henry West (Dylan Baker) and Miriam Kent (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) believe that this method might work. Catherine enters the mind of the boy and speaks with him there, in a world that is completely created by the boy. She hopes she can let him do things that in the end will give results.
The real story then. A serial killer named Carl (Vincent D'Onofrio) just dumped the body of one of his victims. FBI Agents Ramsey (Jake Weber) and Novak (Vince Vaughn) are on this case. Another girl (Tara Subkoff) disappears and at that time, after forensic research on the dumped body, Carl can be traced and captured. Two problems occur. 1. Carl just went into a coma; he has been sick for a long time. 2. His house and the house with his last kidnapped victim are not at the same place. In a way this part of the story is pretty standard.
Things are about to get interesting again. To find out where the girl is, Catherine has to go into Carl's mind. This is dangerous for a lot of reasons. In short: Carl is unknown territory, schizophrenic and a serial killer. If Catherine starts believing Carl's mind is the real world then her mind can convince her body; she could die in the mind of Carl. A tape of how the last victim was killed, a fate this girl will have in about twenty hours, makes sure Catherine will try to get the location out of Carl's mind.
It is the journey through this sick mind that makes this film more than worth watching. Director Tarsem Singh, who did music videos before this, in a way goes back to these music videos. Every room in the imaginative world is another short clip that exists out of beautiful and sometimes haunting images. For me the visual style felt completely new, the way 'Three Kings' had a new visual style one year earlier. If something like that can make you like a film, 'The Cell' will not disappoint. But fans of the thriller and horror genre can like this film anyway. The story itself, without the great fantasy world, is good enough for that. I think you have to be a little open minded, of course events are not (yet) possible in our real world. Still, a very entertaining film with nice ideas that looks terrific.
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