In Cell Count, Russell reluctantly agrees to support his dying wife, Sadie, in taking part in an experimental treatment. Russell is recruited to participate in the program, as well. Sadie’s Doctor promises results that seem too good to be true. But, despite their skepticism, the couple goes along with the program anyway. The problem is that their skepticism is not unfounded. In fact, it is more than warranted. It seems that ‘the cure’ may be worse than the disease.
Robert McKeehen (Grimm) stars as Russell and Haley Talbot (Grimm) as Sadie. The performances are reasonably good. The characters are easy enough to either relate to or empathize with. The only performance that I have any criticism against is Ted Rooney (Roswell) as Abraham. Rooney’s performance is a bit over acted at times. His performance is believable for most of the film, but he becomes a bit hammy in the final fifteen minutes.
Cell Count looks like a bigger budget movie than it actually is. Lighting, camerawork and a certain level of polish give it a more expensive feel than what I was expecting from such an epically low budget production.
Todd E. Freeman wrote, produced, and directed. Freeman has already garnered plenty of comparisons to early Cronenberg and those comparisons are justified. Freeman has a lot of promise as a filmmaker. He was able to make a cool film with barely any budget. And, I am looking forward to seeing what he can do with more abundant means made available to him.
There are small elements of Cell Count that were likely inspired by Cube. Like Cube, Cell Count relies heavily on what the characters and the audience don’t know to build suspense. In both films, you either know or suspect that the participants are being watched. Also, like in Cube, much of the horror is created by the confinement more than it is by way of gore. I would not, in any way call Cell Count a Cube rip-off, because it isn’t. But, there are some similarities that led me to believe Cube may have inspired certain elements of Cell Count.
Cell Count is highly inventive. Barring very minor similarities to other films, it is a creative and imaginative film. The concept, as a whole, is not similar to anything I’ve seen before. You can tell that Freeman had fun making Cell Count. It shows in the finished product. The film is thought provoking in that it offers some social commentary on disease and the way that we as a society handle it. It’s a very intelligent horror film.
Cell Count gives away precious few details until the final act. That causes the scenes leading up to the realization of what ‘the cure’ actually is to be that much more suspenseful. What the viewer doesn’t know provides more chills than any of the gore or other devices employed to scare the audience.
The effects are great. For a low budget independent film to have the quality of effects that Cell Count does is very impressive. Freeman could have used digital effects to conserve his limited budget, but he went all out with really great practical effects and horror fans will be thankful that he did.
Cell Count is a fun B grade horror/science fiction hybrid. It seems as though that’s what Todd E. Freeman was shooting for and if so, he succeeded on most levels.
There is plenty of delightfully bizarre imagery in the film. I won’t give away anything, but you won’t be disappointed when you see some of the ways that ‘the cure’ manifests itself.
My biggest criticism is that the end of the film lacked cohesion. There are things implied about the relationships amongst the characters that we aren’t shown, and they are not adequately explained. The ending was extremely open-ended and abrupt. It’s good to know that a sequel is in the works, as ending a film in the manner that Cell Count ended without a follow up planned would be a bit disappointing.
Cell Count is currently available via VOD. Details regarding a DVD/Blu-ray release have not yet been announced. This film is worth a look. I had a lot of fun with it and I am looking forward to checking out the sequel.