CELL COUNT (2012) Review

Directed by: Todd E. Freeman
Starring: Robert McKeehen, Haley Talbot, Christopher Toyne

There were two reasons I decided to check out CELL COUNT. The first is that I thought the poster looked pretty badass and the second is that I heard it being compared to films like CUBE and Cronenberg's RABID. I still like the poster, but while I can see certain similarities between this and Cronenberg's work, this movie just doesn't come close. It has a very promising premise but before long it falls apart thanks to some lousy writing and incoherent plot.

Russell Carpenter (McKeehen) has to make an important decision. His wife Sadie (Talbot) is dying in a hospital bed from an undisclosed disease and her only chance of getting better is for her to be shipped off to an experimental facility where Doctor Victor Brandt (Toyne)  promises that she will be completely cured. However if Russell wants to be with his wife, he will also need to travel to the facility and partake in the experimental cure. When the couple awaken in the prison-like clinic and find themselves with a handful of strangers, bizarre things begin to happen. Could this cure be worse than the disease?

First I'll get to the good stuff. CELL COUNT was made on a relatively low budget, however great care has obviously been taken to make it look as good as possible. The lighting is good, the scenes are crisp and clear, the location is suitably cold and sterile, and the practical effects and make-up look great.

As I mentioned earlier, the premise for the film is an intriguing one. When Russell makes the decision for himself and his wife to take part in this experiment they are unaware of the risks and even seem to have no idea what the experiment will entail. Obviously the only thing Russell cares about is the fact that Dr. Brandt has promised she will be cured. But at what price? At no point does he say that she will be 'healthy' or 'back to normal', just that she will be completely free of the disease. What exactly is he hiding?
And what's up with this medical facility? It's vast, open and seemingly empty apart from the half dozen or so patients. The doctor communicates to them via a P.A system and rarely visits the patients personally.
Something is obviously not right here. This sense of mystery and foreboding has been handled really well and is enough to hold your attention - for a while at least.

CELL COUNT ambles along at a reasonably slow pace which at first is ok. But before too long I found myself hoping that it would pick up the pace or at least break it up with some action sequences. Unfortunately the slow pace continues throughout the film, peppered with little action, but on the plus side it does throw a few unexpected surprises at you.
The writing here isn't exactly what I would call great, and it has characters making stupid decisions and uttering unimportant and useless dialogue at times.
While the practical effects were done really well, there was is scene which incorporates some terrible looking CGI, and while it may have been the only way to achieve such a scene, it was still off-putting.

And finally we come to the end of the film which was a sudden and inconclusive stop. I can appreciate movies which leave you with unanswered questions while the credits roll, but I think CELL COUNT could have benefited from a more conclusive ending. I have heard possible talk of a sequel so maybe this is why the film ended as it did.

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