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The Cell (2000)


Average Rating: 5.3/10
Reviews Counted: 144
Fresh: 65
Rotten: 79

Critics Consensus: The Cell offers disturbing, stunning eye candy, but it is undermined by a weak and shallow plotline that offers nothing new.

Average Rating: 4.5/10
Reviews Counted: 34
Fresh: 14
Rotten: 20

Critics Consensus: The Cell offers disturbing, stunning eye candy, but it is undermined by a weak and shallow plotline that offers nothing new.


Average Rating: 2.8/5
User Ratings: 180,087


Movie Info

Within the confines of an abandoned rural farmhouse, Carl Stargher, a psychologically disturbed killer has built The Cell, a glass-encased chamber where he drowns his innocent female victims before continuing a sadistic post-mortem ritual with their bodies. As the FBI finally closes in on the killer, he is rendered comatose by a violent seizure and is ultimately apprehended into their custody, but not before leaving his latest victim alive in The Cell with only forty hours to live. … More

R (for bizarre violence and sexual images, nudity and language)
Horror , Mystery & Suspense , Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By:
Written By:
Mark Protosevich
In Theaters:
Dec 19, 2000
Box Office:
New Line Cinema - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for The Cell

All Critics (146) | Top Critics (35) | Fresh (65) | Rotten (79) | DVD (27)

Lopez is hard to take as the empathetic psychologist who uses a synaptic transfer machine to penetrate the comatose killer's tortured psyche in hopes of finding his latest victim.

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Tarsem uses the dramatically shallow plot to create a dream world densely packed with images of beauty and terror that cling to the memory even if you don't want them to.

March 7, 2005
Rolling Stone
Top Critic

The major problem is that The Cell continuously echoes The Silence of the Lambs, only minus the intricate character interplay, Jonathan Demme's direction and the taut storyline.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Top Critic

The trippy, highly mannered, widely referential imagery is certainly its strongest selling point, despite wonderfully grounding (and, on the rides, bizarre) work by Lopez.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Detroit News
Top Critic

Had Tarsem stuck a Chanel bag or bottle of Calvin Klein perfume into the picture, he'd have ruined nothing.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

One of the best films of the year.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

A movie with no plot, no logic, no meaning.

Full Review… | December 28, 2010
Common Sense Media

Sigmund Freud's description of the id as "a cauldron full of seething excitations" could just as easily apply to this literal exploration into the darkest, filthiest corners of a serial killer's mind. A chilling journey into dark religious iconography.

Full Review… | September 25, 2010

A by-the-numbers story becomes the incidental backbone of one of the most visually arresting films of recent memory.

Full Review… | January 8, 2010

The dream sequences are so well-done that it's easy to forgive the film's lack of dramatic punch.

Full Review… | August 7, 2008
Sacramento News & Review

Lopez wades through many nonsensical, pompous, gradually annoying dream-logic scenes.

Full Review… | September 24, 2007

What could have been a by-the-numbers serial killer mystery becomes a beautiful tour de force of film magic.

Full Review… | July 14, 2007
Big Picture Big Sound

Visually stunning, but rather pedestrian.

Full Review… | December 31, 2005

It's excellent.

Full Review… | December 6, 2005
Film Threat

It's not the villain but the director who seems most interested in these grisly spectacles. He was certainly uninterested in his characters.

Full Review… | January 15, 2005
Looking Closer

The Cell may be another repellent serial killer movie, but at least it tries something different.

Full Review… | January 7, 2005
Northwest Herald (Crystal Lake, IL)

The cop/serial killer part of the story (written by Mark Protosevich) offers absolutely nothing of interest.

Full Review… | June 24, 2003
Combustible Celluloid

Writer Mark Protosevich and director Tarsem Singh, both making their feature debut, have crafted the year's first masterpiece, an insanely ambitious movie that miraculously fulfills every one of its ambitions.

Full Review… | May 22, 2003
Film Blather

This is a mind-bending acid trip of a movie -- fresh, disturbing and inimitable.

May 14, 2003
Palo Alto Weekly

D'Onofrio proves that his performance as the bug-wearing-an-Edgar-suit in Men in Black was no fluke.

Full Review… | February 8, 2003
Film Quips Online

An amazing, courageous, and thoroughly dark visualization of what the inside of a deeply troubled mind might look like.

Full Review… | January 10, 2003
Nick's Flick Picks

With little room for either narrative detail or character development, Tarsem's exploration of a deranged mind soon loses momentum.

Full Review… | December 2, 2002
Sight and Sound

This movie is bad in so many ways that it's difficult to know where to begin.

Full Review… | October 30, 2002

The movie looks so good that its dazzling appearance hides some shortcomings.

Full Review… | October 15, 2002
Cincinnati Enquirer

Audience Reviews for The Cell


It may be a gorgeous film to look at but the plot is weakened by a serious miscasting, with Jennifer Lopez incapable of convincing as a psychiatrist well suited for that kind of job, especially given how the character's motivations are so amateurish and confusing in the last act.

Carlos Magalh„es

Super Reviewer


Visually stunning but thematically scant take on what it would be like to enter another's psyche, in this case a serial (psycho/sexual) killer whose last victim is still trapped in a cell somewhere. Lopez and D'Onofrio are competent as antagonists delivering the drama but Vaughn is very good in this, his least Vaughn-like of roles.

Apeneck Fletcher

Super Reviewer

I really do admire Tarsem's The Cell for it's amazing nightmare sequences. However, the hit-or-miss casting and lack of interest make this a lot worse than it theoretically should be. While Jennifer Lopez and Vince Vaughn are fine on their own, this miscasting wasn't beneficial to either of their strengths. Thankfully Vincent D'Onofrio's complete tour-de-force makes the movie as intriguing as it is, making you want to see nothing but a two hour dream sequence with him being bizarre. The visuals are landmarks for their time, mainly because it avoids heavy CGI and focuses on optical illusions. When I think about it, these were some of the best "dream sequences" i've ever seen. They were so visually and stylistically unsettling and surreal.

Conner Rainwater

Super Reviewer

This was sort of interesting.

Dead Angel

Super Reviewer

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