Cell Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

The 2016 zombie apocalypse horror film Cell is directed by Tod Williams.

Clayton Riddell, comic book illustrator, is about to fly home from the Boston airport. In Manchester, his wife and son are waiting for him, whom he has not seen for almost a year. Clayton’s gadget has lost connection, and he goes to a pay phone to talk to his family. Suddenly, Riddell sees that everyone who brings cell to their ears begins to convulse, harm themselves or others, show aggression and turn into creepy monsters. Obviously you can’t talk on the phone. An Impulse passed through the cellular connection, striking everyone who used gadgets.

Clayton understands that this is a global catastrophe. The first thought is to save the son. Johnny could survive, because he usually did not call on his cell phone, but only wrote messages. A long and dangerous journey to the north, full of blood and deadly fights, begins. The protagonist’s companions in survival are other survivors: Tom, Ray, Denise, Jordan.

Mobile zombies are everywhere. But they do not kill immediately, but try to recruit “normies” (the so-called people who managed to avoid the impact of the Impulse) into their ranks. One by one, those who still retained their human appearance are dying, among them are Clayton’s friends: Ardai and Alice. The survivors desperately confront terrible monsters.

Arriving in Maine, Riddell finds a note in his house: the son says that “mom has become one of them.” And Clay kills the mutated Sharon who attacked him. He learns from the neighbors that Johnny has gone to Kashvak. This is an area inaccessible to radio signals where you can escape. But there, a trap awaits the heroes – a cellular relay tower that feeds the monsters.

The father finds the boy in the vicinity of Lake Kashvakamak, but he is clearly not in order. A fixed look, a wide-open mouth, slow movements – Johnny is infected. In desperation, Clay, clutching his son, presses the call button on the phone: the detonator, planted by his friends in the van with explosives, goes off. The tower takes off into the air. Together with a herd of mobilozombies, their leader Torn is destroyed.

Such an ending in the film adaptation does not correspond to the ending written in Stephen King’s book. In the last minutes of screen time, the director demonstrates two possible outcomes of the zombie apocalypse.

The viewer sees a father who has defeated the “mobile infection” and a completely normal son, who are walking along the railway tracks towards the rising sun. Clay holds Johnny’s hand and says, “Come on, I want to introduce you to my friends.” On the screen in total darkness is a herd-like crowd of mobile psychics. In the guise of one of the representatives of the “new human race” you can recognize the former artist Clayton Riddell.

It turns out that in the film, as in the book, the ending remains open. The only difference is that the reader is invited to guess independently the fate of the main characters. And screenwriters invite to reflection on the topic of the future society, the technogenicity of which is rapidly growing and rapidly developing.

The polyvariance of the finale of the horror film, filmed in the subgenre of the zombie apocalypse, is explained by the following.

In 2006, when Stephen King wrote cell, the controversy was “on the crest of a wave” regarding the adverse health effects of cell phone use. Suffice it to recall publications in the press: about the relationship between the development of brain oncopathologies and the use of a mobile headset, about the risks of heart disease when wearing the device in a breast pocket. In 10 years, releasing on the screen an adaptation of the book “King of Horrors”, the filmmakers would look ridiculous, talking about this kind of harm to the cell: the time for hysteria is gone. The biological effects of RF radiation from phones have been studied and evaluated. Gadgets are in-demand attributes of modern life.

Hence – the absence in the film of frames with an unclear and ambiguous ending (as in a literary source) and the presence of two options for a possible interpretation of the final: in the style of “happy ending” and in the format of “complete hopelessness”.

Most likely, after watching the movie, a person will think about it. So who among us, indisputably “addicted to a cell”, wins today: “norm” or “cell psycho”? Indeed, among people there are those who can easily do without high-tech means of communication. And there are those who sell a kidney to buy the latest iPhone. Some, seeing the flames of a fire blazing in a window next door, rush to dial 911 to help the victims. And others calmly shoot a video in order to post a video on YouTube that will bring the coveted “likes” for views.

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