Imagine a serial killer who flatlines his victims and then brings them back to life over and over again, until they beg to die. Beautiful psychic investigator Maya Casteneda was his last victim and swore vengeance on her tormentor before she escaped. Now The Cusp is back, and the FBI taps Maya to help capture the elusive monster. Maya soon discovers the only way she can locate The Cusp is to enter his head. The danger: if Maya dies in the killers brain, she dies in real life!
And so the tradition of milking modest theatrical box-office hits for direct-to-video sequels continues with “The Cell 2”, a serial killer thriller that makes its at-best average predecessor look like an Academy Award winner.
If there was one thing “The Cell” (2000) was notable for, it was the use of elaborate and colourful set-pieces set inside the mind of a twisted serial killer. Thanks to the inventive imagination of veteran music-video director Tarsem, “The Cell” was, if less a gripping serial killer mystery, at least an eye-popping visual spectacle. The same can scarcely be said of its supposed sequel.
TV director Tim Iacofano (who directed some episodes of “24”) has none of Tarsem’s visual eye and it shows all too painfully when Maya (Tessie Santiago), the female psychic who can see into others’ minds, ventures into the head of the serial killer dubbed “The Cusp”. Instead of some creative, unusual dreamscape, what we’re presented with is a bluish-lit passageway lined with television-like screens which resembles some intergalactic tunnel out of a cheap ‘80s sci-fi movie.
Yes, it’s all too obvious that this is a low-budget effort that probably afforded the filmmakers very little to work with- but what is even more apparent is their distinct lack of inspiration and effort in attempting to create something that at the very least looks decent. Indeed, “The Cell 2” doesn’t so much as ride on the novelty of its premise, but drive it straight to the ground with its terribly lacklustre execution.
But it’s hard to blame director Iacofano for being as uninspired when what he had to work with was an insipid script by no less than four writers. Yes, it took four writers to come up this story littered with clichés like clashes in jurisdiction between the local state authorities and the FBI, a serial killer from among the police’s own and a wrongfully accused police officer who turns out to be the one that solves the case at the end. Perhaps the most laughable bit is how the serial killer takes out a book called “Psychology” when he’s looking for mind games to play with his victims.
As if realizing the stupidity of what they have signed up for, the cast of mostly TV actors- Santiago and The Dead Zone’s Chris Bruno and Frank Whaley- go through their roles like a routine without injecting much life into any of the characters. Not that it really matters- each of their roles are stock-type cardboards that you won’t care about much anyway.
In almost every respect, “The Cell 2” is a good exercise of how not to make a serial killer movie. It has close to zero suspense, little buildup and an anticlimactic ending that looks cheap and sounds ridiculous. It is an experience as dull as being locked up in a cell, and worse still, it doesn’t even have any eye candy a la Jennifer Lopez.
SPECIAL FEATURES :
There is a 30-minute featurette “The Cell 2: Behind the Scenes” which basically looks at how the film was shot on an extremely tight budget. Cast and crew alike praise the film but having seen the finished product, one cannot seem to fathom why.
The DVD comes with a Dolby 5.1 audio track that unfortunately is as dull as the movie itself and hardly adds any value to what excuse for an action scene the movie has. Images are clear and without any visible defects.
by Gabriel Chong
Posted on 29 July 2009