The lower-budget “Cell” (2016) wasn’t quite the spectacular horror movie that I was hoping for. (A Stephen King zombie film?!) But it was still pretty good — I’d give it an 8 out of 10.
The screenwriting and directing are average. The acting seems uneven too. And, yes, that includes its curiously low-key performances by John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson. But the opening action set piece was well done, and it succeeds in capturing the creepiness and originality of King’s 2006 novel. What a neat genre-buster too — this is zombie movie meets sci-fi film meets supernatural horror epic meets art-house road movie. It really is an interesting (and quite divergent) variation of the zombie subgenre.
I’ll go ahead and answer the million dollar question for those who have read the book. Yes, that widely unpopular ambiguous ending has been changed, and what we are shown is far more conclusive and satisfying.
By the way, this isn’t King’s first venture into zombie horror. He wrote an excellent short story entitled “Home Delivery,” which I cheerfully recommend. It’s far closer to mainstream zombie horror, and I think it would appeal to “The Walking Dead” fans. I first read it in a worn copy of 1989’s “Book of the Dead” zombie anthology; it also appears in 1993’s “Nightmares & Dreamscapes.”