After a frenzied marathon of 136 + episodes, I'm finally out of Naruto. *Sob* So I rummaged through my old collection of DVDs and settled upon The Cell. It still possesses the same enigmatic quality and remains as gripping as it first was when I sneaked in at GV Balestiar to catch it back in 2000 (since it was still R(A) back then). The strength of the show lies not in its characters nor even in the plot which is really quite simple, it is the imagery and the concepts which are entailed therein that makes one sit up and for the most part either love or hate the movie. But one can't help but be disturbed (in varying degrees) by what one sees, certainly by the scene where Vincent D'Onofrio (the killer) pokes a hole in Vince Vaughn's (FBI agent) stomach and fishes out some intestine which he proceeds to spiral around a rotisserie. Really.
The story starts with a sadistic mentally disturbed killer who goes round drowning helpless nymphs in airtight glass tanks. After one of his S&M sessions (stringing himself up on meat hooks attached to the ceiling), he has a seizure and falls into a coma just as the FBI finally bust his ass. Problem is, one victim remains alive, her whereabouts unknown and they have to find her within 48 hours.
Enter J.Lo as a child therapist who agrees to use a new treatment to enter the killer's mind and uncover the secrets. This is where the movie becomes gruesomely riveting. The extensive and elaborate visual imagery and costumes present a disturbing preview into the mind of a mentally deranged person. With scenes ranging from broken life-size dolls spinning eerily behind glass windows, to bathtubs of blood, to lifeless females sitting in perfect angles across desert dunes, their mouths gaping at the setting sun, to a boy being physically abused by his dad for breaking the dishes, one experiences a gamut of emotions from revulsion, sadness, mild unease, pity, wonder to amazement.
The often frequent and abrupt changes of scenes that remain slightly disturbing while being weirdly beautiful at times and the riot of images,colour and sounds, an assault on the senses; only serve to reinforce the surreality and warped nature of the mind- a place where anything goes and the potential to imprison lies in its ability to construct illusions.
One of the most goose-bump inducing scenes (not freaky shit ones--that probably has to go to the intestine curling part) is the one where J Lo suddenly awakes (still in his mind) drenched and exhausted. And she notices that she is in some brightly lit great hall, then suddenly there is a great rustling sound as the lilac velvet which covers the sides of the hall are pulled back at great speed, rushing through the bronze hoops affixed to the walls. And she rises, turning slowly, wearily and with great dread. To see the killer striding grimly down the steps from his throne towards her, the reams of lilac velvet attached to great rings pierced through his back. Then she screams in mortal terror, pressing the flesh between her forefinger and thumb desperately as she does so (to activate the termination mechanism). Words do the scene little justice.
So anyway silly woman that she is, she goes in another time and this time she gets trapped. Literally collared. And it's up to Vince Vaughan (Dodgeball) as potential love interest to rescue her before it's too late. Be prepared for more mind-numbing scenes, especially the part where he approaches a collared J Lo who sits poised like a cat ready to strike, except that she seems absolutely lifeless, her eyes betraying no hint of emotion. Or the infamous intestine curling part, the scream, blood curdling. Shudders.
The conclusion however possesses an element of redemption as J Lo moved by the small boy, the last shred of innocence left in the comatose killer attempts to redeem him by reversing the feed and bringing him into her mind. Approaching the boy in the likeness of the Madonna (the virgin one), she tries to coax him to follow her, to let her reach out to him. Only to be thwarted by the masochistic killer who metamorphoses from a swan in one of the lily ponds, darkness descending as he does so. J Lo's startling transformation from the Virgin Mary into a vengeful gothic Xena, complete with midnight black lipstick, crazed witch hairdo and a gleaming golden crossbow is priceless.
Much as I've spoiled the rest of the movie, I'll leave the end intact. Suffice it to say, that it was bitter-sweet, with redemption, however incomplete.