Movie/Book Review: Cell


Movie/Book Review by Siobahn Harris


I wanted to review this because I had to read the book for an English course and just for fun I decided to watch the movie afterwards. I wasn’t going to do this one because I felt it would end up with a “the movie/book was better” moment, but I was so blown away with how different the two were that I had to do it.

Let’s start with a basic synopsis for both.

Clayton Riddell, an artist, is in Boston during the time of a strange event called The Pulse. After landing a big job, he buys some gifts for his family and then rides that high into a shit storm that all starts with a cell phone. Thankfully, Clayton doesn’t have a cell phone at the time of The Pulse, so he isn’t affected by it. He watches as the world around him spirals into mayhem with people killing themselves and each other in an animalistic fashion. In his fight for survival Clay makes friends with a man named Tom and a teenage girl named Alice. The three of them ban together to face (or rather, avoid) the phone crazies, but quickly notice that their behavior goes from crazy to organized. Clay’s only goal is to make it to Kent Pond to find his son and nothing will stand in his way to get there. After Clay and his group decide to attack a horde of the Phone Crazies, they realize that they may have done the wrong thing and find themselves face to face with the leader of the new world, The Raggedy Man. Sending out a message to normal people and the phone crazies alike, the new leader focuses all his attention on Clay’s group. With the message, KASHWAK=No-Fo painted everywhere, the group must figure out what it means while attempting to get from Boston to Kent Pond safely.

Okay, I started with the book, so let’s start there.

While I have read some pretty bad reviews on the book, I don’t agree. I loved the book. Clayton has a teaching job that he hates and wants to earn more money for his wife and son. While his wife and he are separated, they still live in the same town and share a son, so he tries to keep things civil even though he spends most of the book more worried about his son than his wife. Neither Clayton nor his wife own a cellphone, which I love because regardless of the fact that almost the whole world has cellphones, some people still chose not to. Tom is another character that doesn’t own a phone, but only because his cat knocked it off his counter and broke it.

Something I loved about the book was the connection that was built between Clay, Tom, and Alice. They quickly feel like a little family, which makes for a beautiful group to follow through an adventure.

Clay’s quick life story: has wife (separated) and son, comic book artist/teacher, only in Boston for a job interview.

Tom’s quick life story: single gay man, has a cat he loves, lives in Malden.

Alice’s quick life story: 15 years old, forced to kill her mom after she turned crazy, father is assumed to be crazy too, was saved by Clay and Tom, sort of becomes the leader of their little group.

The group starts their journey by huddling up at Tom’s house in Malden. They settle in, make friends with his cat, and take notes of the phone crazy movements. The group figures out that they can only travel at night because the phone crazies travel during the day and while organized, they still attack any normal person they see. After raiding a gun loaded house, they head out on foot towards New Hampshire. Along the way they meet many new people and learn the rules of finding a place to sleep (put your shoes outside to claim a spot) and that there is a rumor about armed people at the New Hampshire state line. However, they don’t slow down. They then meet up with a boy and his headmaster at Gaitan Academy, where they find a disturbing number of phone crazies. Set on avenging those they lost they all plan on killing the horde they found. This mistake makes them priority number one to phone crazies. The whole group wakes up after having the same dream that involved being called insane by The Raggedy Man. Soon, they realize that the phone crazies can communicate telepathically. They continue their journey, this time with a new member and find their way to Kent Pond, but all they find is an empty home. As much as they all try to avoid it, they are forced to travel to KASHWAK=No-Fo, where they must fight for their lives and search for the ones they love.

I quickly got obsessed with reading this book because it was so easy to read, and the characters seemed so real. I consider myself a very slow reader but was able to finish this book very quickly. However, I did spend a lot of time reading it, late nights, most days, and more, but I enjoyed every minute of it. I found myself reacting out loud and even cried (like a baby) at one part, which I never thought I would do for a book.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves horror like I do. It isn’t short on bloody gore and is filled with an interesting storyline that draws you in until the end. I got my copy from Barnes and Noble.

Let’s go on to the movie.

In short, I hated it. Let’s pretend for a minute that I didn’t read the book first: the movie was confusing, Clayton (John Cusack) said his last name wrong and it was later said correctly by Tom (Samuel L. Jackson), no connection was built between the characters, but they tried to pretend it was, and it seemed so choppy.

The movie felt rushed. I felt like the story was on fast forward and that left me frustrated as I tried to keep up with the craziness that took over. In the movie, Clayton lives in Boston and moved there because he was running away from his family. He didn’t give a reason, just that he didn’t really want a family, so he moved away for a year but then after making a lot of money on a new job (selling a graphic novel) he then buys his family gifts and says tells his wife he wants to see his son. What an ass.

During The Pulse, Clayton’s phone runs out of battery power so he doesn’t go crazy. With how much I am on my phone, I can relate. In the twistedness of the new world, he finds Tom and they decide right away to travel together. While I enjoyed their meeting, it was here that I was totally taken out of the movie, John Cusack says his name is Clayton Riddle not Clayton Riddell. Little, I know, but I watch movies with subtitles and even the they got his name right. This is later corrected when Tom says his name at the end of the movie, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that Clay cannot pronounce his own name.

I was confused about Alice’s entrance. She says she lives upstairs from Clayton but after having to kill her mom she goes to his apartment instead of her own and says she needs to change. Why not just go home, change, cry forever, and then go find help from a neighbor? It didn’t make sense. However, after the group gather at Clay’s apartment they decide to begin their travels to Kent Pond and they want to stick together. They travel during the day and you very rarely see them interact with others or stop for shelter. The group grab some guns from a gun lover’s home and head back out. Sadly, the group sees no logical reason to save their bullets as they begin to fully open fire on a very large horde they are being chased by, it made no dent. They meet up with a young boy and his headmaster at Gaitan Academy and decide to take out a large horde of phone crazies they find there. This quickly proves to be a mistake as they are greeted the next day with a pile of burned cell phones. The group collects a new member and head on the road toward Kent Pond, where they find an almost empty home. Clayton then decides that they should all split up and things just get weird from there. Strap in, hold on, close your eyes tight, and get ready for a bumpy ride because this movie seems to get not one, not two, but three endings! Could we not decide? What the hell? Pick one and stick to it.

In the end, there was no fear, just confusion. I watched this with my husband who never read the book and even he was confused. If you would like to sit through it, I suggest renting it on YouTube as I only had to pay $2.99 for it, but even that was too much.

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Siobahn Harris graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with honors, earning her bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and English with a concentration on fiction writing. She worked for three months editing non-fiction books for Motivational Press and now runs a blog page sharing horror themed short stories and movie reviews. While she enjoys editing, her true passion is using her creativity to create new and unique stories that can truly scare her audience. Her dream is to one day put her writing skills to the test and work with a team to develop a horror themed video game or movie. She plans to continue learning as much as she can about the writing industry to perfect her skills and someday rule the world.

One thought on “Movie/Book Review: Cell

  1. Great review. Very detailed and informative. I liked that you took the time to review the book and the movie. Having the comparison gives both the reader and the movie-goer an insight as to what they are in for. It is rare that a movie will follow closely the book it is inspired by. Usually it is just a misinterpretation of the written material or a screenwriter who just feels their ideas are better for the story then what the author wrote(interestingly enough the author and screenwriter for this project are the same, though his co-screenwriter had only 2 other movies under his belt at the time he worked on this), whichever, it is the audience that pays the price, literally and figuratively.

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