streaming horror the cell

Welcome to 31 Days of Streaming Horror. Every day this October we’ll be highlighting a different streaming horror movie to help you get into the Halloween spirit. Today’s entry: The Cell (2000).

The Cell
Now Streaming on Netflix

Sub-Genre: Serial killer thriller that belongs in the modern art wing of a museum

Best Setting to Watch It In: Trapped in the mind of a murderer

How Scary Is It?: Things get pretty disturbing as the story unfolds

The Cell feels like a film time forgot, and it’s ready to be rediscovered. It was by no means a flop at the box office, but critics were mixed on the experience, claiming it was more style than substance. But the style is the substance here. Director Tarsem Singh draws on imagery from works of art to create a visually stunning nightmare, brimming with dread and lush production design.

Jennifer Lopez is a child psychologist working for a wealthy company that has found a way to literally send a person inside another person’s mind. It’s a very experimental procedure, but it’s just what FBI Agent Vince Vaughn is looking for. Vaughn has been on the trail of a serial killer (Vincent D’Onofrio) who abducts women and leaves them to drown in a special cell (hey, that’s the title!) he built for them. The police have just captured the killer, but bad luck for them, he’s fallen into a coma. And even worse: his most recent abductee is still alive out there, and the clock is ticking before the cell fills up with water and drowns her.

The plan is for Lopez to enter the killer’s mind and find out where the woman is being held. But the inside of a murderer’s mind turns out to be a very disturbing place, which probably shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. Lopez has to navigate one gruesome-yet-gorgeous set-piece after another, going further and further into the killer’s subconscious.

Stylish to the extreme and featuring several genuinely unnerving scenes – a sequence where a character has his intestines slowly ripped out via a cranking mechanism is particularly nasty – The Cell is one of the most unique serial killer movies in recent memory. Instead of trying to rip off Silence of the Lambs or Seven, as so many modern serial killer thrillers do, The Cell forges its own strange identity.

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