August 18, 2012

Filthy Review - 'Cell Count'

Cell Count (2012)

Review by Jude Felton

It was back in 1986 when I got introduced to the twisted world of David Cronenberg, with his majestic version of The Fly. Watching this twisted tale inspired me to check out his earlier movies, and his fascination with what we now call body horror. Movies such as Videodrome, Scanners and The Brood, amongst others, were all devoured and enjoyed. This was a different style of horror movie than I was used to, but it resonated deep inside me. The reason I mention the early films of Cronenberg is quite simple; Todd E. Freeman’s Cell Count evokes the spirit of these grisly delights.

Cell Count takes place in a research hospital facility, where Russell Carpenter and his wife Sadie have booked themselves into. Sadie has a terminal disease and is advised by Dr. Brandt that they are working on an experimental cure; it will only work though if both Sadie and Russell stay at the facility whilst it is monitored. This being an old school style horror flick though, means that the path to recovery will be anything but straightforward.

The cure has side effects, and the other residents all begin to show signs of this. Paranoia rises, bizarre events occur and questions arise as to what the Doctor’s real intentions are.

Freeman has delivered a movie here that constantly forces the viewer to ask questions as to what the real motives are, and always remains thoroughly unpredictable as to the direction the plot takes. The clinically sterile location plays at complete odds with the undefined disease, the cure and its effects, and so when the more visceral scenes arrive there is far more of an impact. There truly are some weird and wonderful moments contained within Cell Count; none of which I will spoil here. Needless to say though they are not only unexpected, they are incredibly well executed.

Although I don’t know the exact budget for the film, it is quite apparent that it was not especially high, and Freeman has delivered a film that makes great use of the resources available. The effects are terrific, with only one latter CGI moment coming across as a little out of place, with most of the effects being of a practical nature.

Cell Count is not a film that guides you along in a by-the-numbers script; instead it demands your attention, as it won’t necessarily go in the direction you might expect. There are a few moments where the script seemed a little hokey, but for the most part there was a genuine sense of paranoia and confusion, and the cast pull it off exceptionally well.

It is definitely a movie of questions, rather than one that attempts to give you all the answers, so if a cut and dry film that neatly wraps everything up is your cup of tea, you might be a little disappointed. Instead, if you like a movie where you are required to give a little thought to, and indeed come up with some of your own conclusions, this could well be right up your street.

Cell Count has elements of movies such as The Experiment, Exam and Cabin Fever, as well as the previously mentioned Cronenberg movies, but enough identity of its own to stand alone as a fine addition to the body horror sub-genre.

This is an intense movie that keeps you guessing, throws in plenty of grue and delivers its fair share of chills. For those that say there is no good new horror being made anymore I suggest checking out this well-crafted slice of horror.

Cell Count is currently playing the Festival circuit. You can find out more about the film by visiting the Official Facebook page and the movie's Official Site.

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