November 9, 2011
NC: Hello, I’m the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so you don’t have to. Many of us are familiar with exploitation films. (Movie posters for several exploitation films are shown as NC speaks)
NC (voiceover): The movies that take an often controversial subject and—what else?—exploit the hell out of it. Now, a good chunk of the time, the makers of these movies know they’re making over-the-top tripe, like jailsploitation films, blacksploitation films, sexploitation films, goresploitation films…
George Weiss (from “Ed Wood”): I don’t make major motion pictures. I make crap.
NC: But the hardest thing to watch are the exploitation films that don’t know that they’re being silly; they think that they’re making (He makes a dramatic yet exaggerated pose) art. (Beat) This is where “The Cell” comes in.
(The title screen for the movie “The Cell” is shown, followed by a montage of clips from the movie)
NC (voiceover): Directed by Tarsem—No, really; (the poster is shown, then the camera zooms in on Tarsem's name on it, showing no last name) that’s what he really calls himself: Tarsem. He’s too intense for last names—this is one of those movies that tries to tell you it’s shocking, poetic, and deep, when it really just takes elements from other movies that are shocking, poetic and deep and forgets to give it a story and characters that are actually shocking, poetic and deep! The result is a visually interesting but pretentiously annoying dick fuck fest that thinks it’s saying more than it really is.
NC: So let’s dive into (makes a dramatically artistic pose) Tarsem’s soul. This is “The Cell.”
(The movie begins)
NC (voiceover): So we start off with Lopez of Arabia wearing an outfit that looks like a melted version of Bjork’s swan dress. (An image of Bjork wearing her swan dress is shown briefly)
(Catherine Deane (Jennifer Lopez) is in a desert taking to a boy, who is resting against an empty tree trunk)
Catherine Deane: I thought we were going sailing today. Come on. Come on, Mister E.
Edward: It’s broken. Catherine: Who says?
Catherine: Now, Edward, we agreed. No more Mokey-lock.
Edward: Mokey-lock is the boogeyman.
(Edward stands up from the fallen log to make a demon face and yell) NC (voiceover): Oh, no, we got consumed by those stupid scary face videos from YouTube! (Catherine is seen dropping a toy sailboat onto the ground before she pinches an implant that is on the skin between her thumb and index finger on one hand; Cut to Catherine in a laboratory setting being suspended in mid-air by wires after having pinched the implant on her hand; We see that she wears an unusual rubber suit while her face is covered with a cloth) NC (voiceover): So it turns out this was all just a simulation to go into the mind of the boy in a coma. (Two doctors in the adjoining console room use a code to get a response out of Catherine) Dr. Henry West: Sing a song of sixpence… Catherine: (sounds hoarse and groggy) A pocketful of rye… NC (voiceover): Um, I’m guessing that’s code for “Why the fuck are we wearing Twizzler catsuits?” Dr. Miriam Kent: Four and twenty blackbirds. Catherine: Baked in a pie… NC (voiceover): Yeah, this nursery-rhyme thing is one of the many pointless tidbits that really have no purpose, like why do they need a code to know if she’s okay? Couldn’t they just ask, “Hey! Are you okay?” (Miriam enters the lab to remove the cloth mask from Edward’s comatose face (he also wears the same unusual rubber suit that Catherine does)) Henry West: Mister E. is doing fine. NC (voiceover): Oh, yeah, and they don’t call the boy “Edward,” either. For whatever reason, they call him “Mister E.” Get it? Because his mind is a mystery? This movie’s pushing the envelope! (Cut to Edward’s room with Ella (Edward’s mother) caressing her son’s hair and the father (Lucien) looking on) Catherine: He loves it when you visit. Ella: My husband wonders if it’s true. He wants to place Edward in a hospital. (Catherine sighs) Henry West: Mr. Baines, I’ve been working on this project for seven years. NC: (as Henry West) I don’t care if they rebooted the “Spider-Man” movies. I should be the Lizard! Lucien Baines: Please don’t take offense, Dr. Kent. You’re always invaluable to this company. Catherine: But you’re not sure about me. Lucien: We’ve waited eighteen months for signs of progress. NC (voiceover): Eighteen months?! Good God, I’d pull out, too! Give him five more, and maybe they’d work their way up to “Hey-diddle-diddle!” (Cut to a country dirt road with a green pickup truck driving past a farm field and stopping at a farm) NC (voiceover): We then cut to our psychopath for the evening, Carl, played by Vincent D’Onofrio, as we see he spends most of his hobby time partaking in… (Carl walks around a corner inside a secret sanctuary to take a look into a large tank with a young woman being suspended in the water and is unconscious) NC (voiceover): You know, I’m just gonna make this a little easier for you, folks. Whenever Tarsem wants you to be disturbed, I’m just gonna push the “Be Disturbed” button. NC: Are you ready? Let’s try it. 1, 2, 3. (He presses an imaginary button on his desk) (A caption labeled “Be Disturbed” is shown over the footage of Carl admiring the young woman inside the tank) Nasal Voice: Be disturbed. Audience: (screams) Ahhhhhhhhh! NC (voiceover): Nicely done. (Back to the movie) NC (voiceover): So while Lopez is feeling bummed about not being able to work with Edward—Oh, I’m sorry. “Mister E.”—she does what any in-control, non-dependent social worker would do: get stoned off her ass. (While lying in bed, Catherine imagines the desert scene of Edward’s world as the camera flies in and over Catherine wearing the same white feathery dress from earlier before it cuts to her turning around to see a seagull call and fly overhead) NC (voiceover): Okay, now we’re just looking for excuses to put her in pretty dresses. (Catherine approaches the empty tree trunk) Catherine: Edward? (She looks into a hole in the trunk) Edward, is that you? (Emerging from the hole is the demonic monster version of Edward, snarling; Cut to Catherine waking up from her doze, startled) NC (voiceover): (as Catherine) Pointless! Oh. Oh, thank God that scene will add a lot to the movie. (Cut back to Carl’s sanctuary, activating some gears) NC (voiceover): We cut back again to Carl’s hobby, which seems to be very…um…specific. (Carl (being fully nude) is seen being hoisted up by hooked chains and facing down above the young woman from earlier (named Anne) with his skin stretched from the hooks as he lifts his head up and looks at a TV with previous video footage of Anne struggling to break out from the large tank as it fills up with water; Carl’s white dog (named Valentine) barks a few times nearby) Anne (on the TV screen): HELP ME! NC (voiceover): You know, I’m starting to think this is one of those really highly-funded personal porno movies that somehow fooled executives into thinking it was telling a poetic story. You know, like “The Passion [of the Christ]” or “The Room”! It’s not really going in-depth into anything; it’s just giving the director a chance to live out his sick, weird fantasies.
NC: Just like my personal highly-funded porno film, “Clown Cats with Six Breasts from Outer Space.”
(A Photoshopped image of such a fake film with a cat’s head in clown makeup superimposed over a woman’s six-breasted body and appearing front of a giant spacecraft is shown) WHEN WILL I FIND THE OTHER PERSON WHO LIKES THIS?!
NC (voiceover): Though to be fair, I think those movies probably had much more convincing long hair extensions than Carl’s baby doll boutique wig. (An image of a baby doll's head is shown alongside Carl briefly for comparison)
(Cut to a film transition of a train passing by the camera before we cut to a river bridge with policemen examining the scene)
NC (voiceover): So we cut to where Carl drops off the body, and the police look over the crime scene. (Two police agents peel back some plastic to reveal the face of Anne, which is being infested with tiny insects as an FBI photographer takes pictures of the body; "Laura Palmer's Theme" from "Twin Peaks" and a clip from “Shaft” (of a police photographer sobbing to himself) is shown along with this scene) Peter Novak (Vince Vaughn): Was the water always this low? Agent Cole: Yeah, this time of year. Peter: Give me your coroner’s report right away. NC (voiceover): Ah, yes, and we also have Vince Vaughn as the classic obsessed cop. NC: How do I know he’s an obsessed cop? NC (voiceover): Well, he sleeps and brushes his teeth in his office. He whispers his understanding of the criminal mind he’s hunting. Peter: (in his office) He’d love an animal like that. Peter: (riding a train while looking at a newspaper photo of Carl) You’re a bad man, aren’t you, Carl? NC (voiceover): Not clear enough to be a statement, but just loud enough so that people can turn and say, “Oh, wow! He’s tortured.” NC: And the number one reason I know he’s an obsessed cop is… NC (voiceover): HE NEVER CLOSES HIS FUCKING MOUTH! Oh, I don’t mean he talks all the time. No, no, I mean, literally, Vince Vaughn thinks the best way to look intense is to just leave your lip hanging open the whole time! NC: I swear! All I want to do throughout this entire movie is go… (NC brings his left hand off-screen before cutting to a shot of Peter and his opening mouth with NC flipping a finger on the lips) “B-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b!” NC (voiceover): But hey, he has to look intense when he’s understanding a mind this sick, for after months and months of obsessing this killer, he finally comes to an earth-shattering conclusion that will blow your mind. Peter: (speaks to other officers at the office) If there’s one thing I know for certain…if we can’t stop him…he ain’t gonna stop himself. NC (voiceover): BRILLIANT—! Wait, what? Peter: If we can’t stop him…he ain’t gonna stop himself. NC: …Really? That’s the big conclusion you’ve come to? NC (voiceover): I mean, he’s already killed several women; I think it sort of goes without saying he’s gonna keep doing what he’s doing! I dare even say, “Painfully obvious!” What’s the next conclusion he’s gonna come to after all this time? NC: (as Peter) Alright, people. After months and months of research, we have come to the conclusion that our suspect does officially have hands! (Beat) Put a search out for everybody that has hands! (He points at the camera repeatedly) MOVE IT, MOVE IT, MOVE IT! (He stops pointing to look at his own hand and the other all over) My God. What if I’m the… (Camera close-up on his face with a dramatic music sting) NC (voiceover): But it turns out Carl does strike again and kidnaps a woman from a conveniently empty parking garage. He puts her in a location far away from his house, but fatefully, the police figure out where he lives. However, he suffers a convenient plot attack and finds himself in a coma. But the investigators continue to search the place to see if they can find any clues to the woman’s location. (The police find a logo with four artistically curved lines for the steel torture slab Carl used (with a label “Carver”), in addition to an odd, grisly collection of dolls all around Carl’s workroom) Nasal Voice: Be disturbed. (Accompanying text appears onscreen) Audience: (screams) Ahhhhhhhhh! NC (voiceover): But the doctor fills us in what’s wrong with him. Dr. Milton Reid: (to Peter and Gordon Ramsey, another special agent) Have you ever heard of Whalen’s Infraction? It’s a form of schizophrenia that infects the neurological system in utero. It lays dormant until it’s triggered by some kind of trauma. He’s not just catatonic; he’s disappeared.
NC (voiceover): Uh, are we talking about the killer or Vince Vaughn right now? ‘Cause, to be honest, I’d believe either one.
Peter: Whatever state that he happens to be in, there is a girl that is missing. Milton Reed: If there were anything…anything… (NC adds in the eye-shifting sound effect over Milton as his eyes shift a bit, a callback to NC’s Ernest Saves Christmas review)
NC (voiceover): So after he does the Ernest Eyes thing, he leads them to the lab where the dream machine is located. They (West and Kent) recommend that they go inside his mind to figure out the location of the kidnapped woman before she most likely drowns in this death contrapment. Now, seeing how Carl liked to take beautiful women and turn them into lifeless dolls, it only makes sense that they send in the most beautiful woman they can find—I dare even say, doll-like—to go in there and face the danger. (He sarcastically chuckles) I’m sure she won’t be at any risk at all. Miriam Kent: (to Catherine after setting her up in the dream machine) Are you sure? Catherine: I’m sure.
NC (voiceover): Thank God they just happened to have a Twizzler suit his size on standby, as they hook her up to the machine and let her dive in. (Catherine subconsciously enters Carl’s mind, containing surreal and disturbing imagery before we see her wake up in a labyrinth with a white cloth that has a face on it, and she takes it off)
NC (voiceover): (sighs) Really? You’re throwing in a cloth with Jesus’ face on it? Gah, I can just see Tarsem dancing in the background shouting… (An animated Tarsem (voiced and animated by NC) bounces around the screen shouting with arms raised and eyes bugged out)
Animated Tarsem: ASK ME WHAT IT MEANS! ASK ME WHAT IT MEANS! OH-HOO-HOO-HOO!
(Catherine finds a young boy running up a flight of stairs attached to a stone wall)NC (voiceover): She comes across a little boy version of Carl and… Animated Tarsem: (bounces around the screen) ASK ME WHAT THAT MEANS! ASK ME WHAT THAT MEANS! NC (voiceover): Yeah, I know what it means. Thanks. And he leads her to a horse in a laboratory. (Young Carl notices something amiss as he hears a noise; he proceeds to shove Catherine away before he falls backward and sheets of glass come down from the ceiling, slicing the horse into several sections; the sheets of glass move apart to show the different sections of the horse) Nasal Voice: Be Disturbed. (Accompanying text appears onscreen) Audience: (non-amused scream) Ahhhhhhhhh. Nasal Voice: Oh, come on, I didn’t believe that one. Audience: (with a little more enthusiasm) Ahhhhhhhh! Nasal Voice: Don’t make me force you to write essays interpreting the director’s work. Audience: (screams with more energy) AHHHHHHHHHH! Nasal Voice: That’s better. (Young Carl gets up to run away as Catherine takes a closer look at the insides of the horse’s sections) NC (voiceover): Eh, it’s no more disturbing than how they make Chicken McNuggets. (Cut to Catherine coming across a few glass cubicles in another room) Catherine: (to herself) His victims. NC (voiceover): So she continues throughout his mind as we see even more (speaks nasally) disturbing imagery. (The glass panels to each of the cubicles open up, revealing the victims in odd poses of different fetishes (For example, one tied to a dentist’s chair with her mouth spread apart by dental instruments, and one tied against a wall with a doll mask placed over her face)) NC (voiceover): Right now, Marilyn Manson fans all over the word are saying, “I get this! This really speaks to me!” (In another cubicle, Catherine sees a victim sitting near a few deer statues in a forest setting, and the victim stares back) NC (voiceover): I know I’m supposed to be creeped out by all this, but this imagery has already been put in a million music videos by this point. They kind of lost their shock value, even when this film came out. If anything, it looks more like a tour through Pee-Wee’s S&M Dungeon. (Clips from the opening to “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse” intercuts with clips of the cubicle scenes from the movie) Background Singer (sung high-pitched by NC): (sings to the tune of the theme song to “Pee-Wee Playhouse”) Come on in, and pull yourself up a chair... Pee-Wee Herman (dubbed by NC): It’s human flesh! Background Singer (sung by NC): See women getting tortured to produce a cheap scare… Pee-Wee Herman: (dubbed by NC): Someone wants attention! Background Singer (sung by NC): And we’re giving you fair warning / It’s pretentiously boring and preachy at Pee-Wee’s Dungeon! Pee-Wee Herman (dubbed by NC): (yells) Ahhhhhh! (Back to the movie) NC (voiceover): But she finally comes across the center of Nutty Town and decides it’s too much for her to take and exits the machine. Stargher King: (speaks in a primitive and guttural voice) Where do you come from?! (Catherine screams in fright before pressing the implant on her hand; cut to the real world with Peter smoking a cigarette while examining photos and documents in a different room) NC (voiceover): That’s right, smoke. Smoke. You’re obsessed. That’s what obsessed people do. They smoke. If you were any more obsessed, you’d be eating those cigarettes! Urgh! Henry: (to Peter) She’s had quite a journey. That could be dangerous. Peter: What are you talking about? Henry: Well, if she came to believe that Stargher’s world is real, then theoretically, her mind can convince her body that anything that was done to it there is actually done. It’s like the old wive’s tale: You die in your dream, you die in real-life.
NC (voiceover): Sort of like if a movie doesn’t work on paper, it won’t work even if you throw Jennifer Lopez in licorice tights.
Peter: (stands up to speak to Miriam through the console window into the lab) Dr. Kent, can I come in there to speak?
Henry: Let her wake up. Peter: We don’t have a lot of time. Do you understand that?
NC (voiceover): So Vaughn tries to talk with her to see if she can make any more progress.
Catherine: You don’t like what you do?
Peter: I used to be an attorney. Catherine: What happened?
Peter: I had a case. Um…this little girl was molested.
NC (voiceover): God, will you close that damn lip? YOU’RE DRIVING ME NUTS!!
Peter: Margaret Simmons. (NC inserts his hand over the footage and flutters a finger over Peter’s lips)
NC (voiceover): B-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b! (whispers) It drives me crazy!
Peter: Figured I could just try and catch him. Catherine: ‘Til now. Peter: Yeah.
NC (voiceover): Speaking of driving someone crazy, wasn’t there a woman we were supposed to save? I mean, what the hell happened to “We don’t have much time!”? They seem to be taking a lot of their time right now. Should we just cut to Slowly Sinking Woman Cam every time they say something that doesn’t sound important?
Catherine: Whatever happened to Charles Gish?
Peter: Old Charlie beat the murder rap because, uh…he was insane when he killed Margaret.
(On the bottom left part of the screen, we get footage of the newest victim (named Julia) being trapped in a transparent room that is filling up with water; NC’s caption “Slowly Sinking Woman Cam” appears over the footage as we hear the Chicken Dance in the background)
Gordon Ramsey: (enters the scene and speaks to Peter) Hey, where the hell you been?
Peter: I’ve been right here.
Gordon: Well, next time, tell me, okay?
Peter: I didn’t want to disturb you. You looked so cute. You know, you all sleeping when you get that look on your face. (NC inserts in canned audience laughter before we return to the “Slowly Sinking Woman Cam” footage that appears on the bottom left corner of the screen) NC (voiceover): So Lopez decides to head back in, only things don’t go exactly as planned. Henry: (speaks through an intercom heard in the laboratory) It’s a power problem. I need you to check the circuit breaker. Six through twelve. (Catherine gets up to head to the circuit breaker, but then she stops to turn around slowly as the camera pans back to reveal that she and Carl are suspended in mid-air, meaning that she is still in Carl’s state of mind) Catherine: I’m already in. NC (voiceover): Ah, yes, because as we all know, the killer—still deep in a coma—knows exactly what the room looks like and how to replicate it in his mind. Pretty good memory for something he’s never even seen before. Quick! Begin trailer fuel! (Catherine is next seen trapped in a glass box and then propelled out of it through a trap door while wearing a red silky gown, then is seen falling down through a giant cavernous room, but rather slowly as though sinking through water)
NC (voiceover): So she goes into a flashback where she sees Carl as a little boy being abused by his father. (Catherine is seen hiding in a closet while secretly watching Young Carl and his dad eat dinner together)
Martin (Young Carl’s father): (throws a dish across the kitchen) Let’s break them all. How about that? You little fucking liar! (He gets up, ready to take off his belt) Playing with dolls? You little faggot!
NC (voiceover): But things get even tougher when we flashback to even more traumatizing moments in his life, like that horrible experience when he joined the army.*
*In Full Metal Jacket", they were in the Marine Corps, not the Army.
(Clips from “Full Metal Jacket” are overlaid over the scene when Martin abuses Young Carl with his belt)
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Private Pyle, you had best square your ass away.
Sergeant Hartman: You will not laugh! You will not cry!
Sergeant Hartman: Do you mean to tell me that you cannot do one single pull-up?
Sergeant Hartman: Were you born a fat, slimy scumbag puke piece of shit, Private Pyle?
(End of overlaid footage)
Martin: (is having dinner with Carl) Did you break that plate? Young Carl: I broke the plate. Martin: (hits Carl over the head with a spoon) Did you break that plate? (Cut to Martin having an argument with a middle-aged woman while in his underwear) Martin: You’re not his mother! (to Young Carl) She left us, Carl. Remember that! (He grabs onto Carl and shows him to the woman) See that? See that?! NC (voiceover): It’s true that child-beating scenes are really intense and pretty hard-core, but it dares to bring light to a concept that we never would’ve thought about before: child abuse is bad! (Beat) Yeah, that’s about the gist of it. Child abuse is bad. Because if you thought child abuse was good before, this probably won’t change your mind because you’re already a psycho. But thank God it’s showing the people who already know that child abuse is bad that…child…abuse…is bad! Yeah, that really justifies this sad imagery. NC: But I…guess it’s good to show that child abuse always leads to psychotic killers. Well, okay, that’s not true, but it does show the, uh…uh, transition of Carl’s psychological…YOU KNOW, WHAT THE HELL DO WE KNOW ABOUT CARL, ANYWAY?! NC (voiceover): I mean, there’s a scene where she’s (Catherine) talking to him by a bathtub, and I just realized: We have no idea who this guy is! We don’t know if this is the real him, the dark him, the innocent him, we were never given time to figure out what Carl was like in the real world. I mean, we know what he did, but we never figured out his personality. We never saw him interact with people. We don’t know if he’s patient, charming, awkward, funny, boring, anything. We actually know very little about him! So how is this “character study” supposed to tell us anything? Just that he was beaten as a kid and he kills people. I’m sorry, that doesn’t make us understand him! It’s like the story of Hamlet. If he were to tell us he was a young guy who wanted revenge and his childhood was fine, what would that tell you? Nothing! You need to connect socially with him. That’s how you make us feel sorry for him. That’s how you make all this exploitative bullshit actually add up to something. You see what the final result is. But instead, we get (speaks in a guttural voice like a monster) EVIL MONSTERS TO BATTLE! OOH, AGGHHH! (He speaks normally) But you know what? That shit doesn’t matter if we didn’t see how it affected him in reality. There’s no connection or understanding in this at all. But fuck it, let me guess: we have even more EVIL CARLS to confront, right? (A demonic version of Carl with horns attaches a metal cuff around Catherine’s neck before we cut back to the real world and Miriam quickly takes note of a sensor alarm sounding on a computer monitor) Peter: (enters the console room) What’s going on? Henry: That hypothetical situation I told you about? Peter: Yeah? Henry: It’s happening. NC (voiceover): What a coinky-dink. Miriam: His mind is unfamiliar territory, and she’s lost. She thinks this is real. (She looks up to notice something in the lab) Henry. (Henry also looks up to see that Catherine is no longer in the suspended spot where she was before) Henry: No. No. Peter: “No” what? Henry: (to Miriam) I need you here. NC (voiceover): To do what? All you guys do is point at the screen and shout exposition. ANYBODY CAN DO THAT! And once again, how come nobody else ever knows how to operate this brand new dangerous equipment except for two fucking people?! Don’t you think there should be more precaution for something that they’re constantly saying puts people at risk?! (Peter volunteers to go in and is seen wearing the unusual rubber suit, lying on a third table in the lab) Peter: I got bugs crawling over my body. Miriam: It gets worse. NC (voiceover): So Vince Vaughn decides to go in because, again, nobody else has ever gone in outside of Lopez, and he enters into the Lame-trix. (After transporting into Carl’s world, we see a gloomy landscape dotted with little hills; three identical women sit on these hills, their bodies positioned in a uniformed pattern with their hands clutching their chests and having their mouths open while looking upward) NC (voiceover): (laughs) God. (mocks the movie as though sounding pretentious) Someone interpret me! (Peter is seen having landed in a puddle near the three women) NC (voiceover): Actually, I think I recognize that reaction. It’s the faces of the people who funded this movie right after they saw what their money went into. Peter: (absorbs his surroundings) Okay. NC (voiceover): So he does find Lopez pretty quickly, wearing…um… (Catherine is seen dressed like a queen and wearing on her face what can be best described as a strangely beautiful mask with the lower half of her face covered with stringed beads) Lone Starr (from “Spaceballs”): Did I miss something? (audio) When did we get to Disneyland? NC (voiceover): So Vaughn tries to snap Lopez back to her senses…(Catherine seductively approaches Peter and kisses him)…but not after getting a little Jenny booty while he’s in town. Yeah, where’s that Slowly Sinking Woman Cam again? (The “Slowing Sinking Woman Cam” footage is shown briefly at the bottom left of the screen with accompanying text and the Chicken Dance playing in the background) (After Catherine has finished kissing Peter, Carl enters dressed as a king and covers Peter’s head with a red cloth from behind) NC (voiceover): But bad Carl Number…5 drops in and straps him down to a torture machine. (Stargher King reaches down to pull at the belt buckle area of Peter’s pants several times) Stargher King: Naughty worm. (He proceeds to pull out Peter’s intestinal tract in the spot above the crotch area and ties the tract onto a wooden rod above Peter) Nasal Voice: Be disturbed. (Accompanying text appears onscreen) Audience: (screams) Ahhhhhhhh! (Catherine is seen grinning to herself in delight) Nasal Voice: Now turned on. (Accompanying text appears onscreen) Audience: Ooooooh! (Stargher King gets giddy and claps to himself in delight) Nasal Voice: Now confused. (Accompanying text appears onscreen) Audience: (makes confused noises) Eh? Err… (The camera pulls back to show the entire torture device, decorated with hanging shells and two golden seahorse statues) Stargher King: Dance. Dance. Nasal Voice: Now disturbed again. (Accompanying text appears onscreen) Audience: (screams) Ahhhhhhhhh! Stargher King: (as Peter’s intestinal tract is winded up on the wooden rod above him) I need to…wooden you. NC (voiceover): But Vaughn tries to snap Lopez out of it by reminding her of her past. Peter: Your baby brother had a car accident! He was in a coma for six months before he died! And I’m sorry for saying that! (Catherine simply continues to grin) NC (voiceover): (reacts to the close-up shot of Catherine’s face) Gah! Forget D’Onofrio; that’s the scariest face in the movie! (Stargher King says something indistinct as Catherine reaches for a golden knife) Stargher King: (mocks Peter) It’s not real! It’s not real! This isn’t real! This isn’t real! (Catherine steps up behind Stargher King, and we hear the sound of a blunt blow, stunning him before the camera pans down to reveal that a sharp instrument has pierced through his chest) NC (voiceover): You know, her mind must be a real blank slate. It took almost nothing to win her over to Carl’s side, and it took almost nothing to win her back! Tell her she’s a peanut! She’ll probably believe it! (Stargher King emits an animalistic scream before we see Peter yelling and shaking his head wildly (his face looks distorted as he does this)) Catherine: (is now dressed normally and bends over Peter) Peter. (Peter soon stops yelling) NC (voiceover): So Vaughn is released, and he comes across the clue he’s been looking for. (Beat) Sort of. (At Carl’s idealized cell, Peter finds a symbol with four lines that curl upward, flashing back to an earlier scene in Carl’s workshop of Peter having seen the symbol on the steel torture slab before) Peter: Let’s go. Catherine: What are you doing? (Peter holds Catherine’s hand and presses the implant on her hand before we cut back to the lab in the real world) NC (voiceover): He gets out of the scene and starts making some calls. Agent Cole: (on the phone while in Carl’s workshop) Now, what am I doing down here? Peter: That machine they used. There’s a hoist…and I want you to look for a, um, plaque or a…metal plate with some logo on it. Agent Cole: (finds the Carver logo) Carver Industrial Equipment. Peter: I want you to find out every goddamn thing that you can about that machine. Who used it, who sold it, who bought it… NC (voiceover): Wait, shouldn’t he have done that, anyway? I mean, we saw clearly that he saw the symbol before. What did seeing it in Carl’s head prove? Was it…just a reminder that he should be doing his job? (Cut to Henry quickly approaching the door to the lab where Catherine is now up and about) Henry: Catherine? Open this door. NC (voiceover): But it turns out Lopez isn’t done yet. She wants to go back into the machine and bring Carl into her mind. She locks everybody out and does the experiment on her own. Funny, I didn’t know she could do it on her own. I thought those two people were really necessary, but apparently not. She can go in very easily without anyone else…whatever. Time to go back to Lame-ception. (Cut to Catherine’s World, which is a peaceful villa with a small circular reflective pool in the center and cherry blossoms standing nearby) NC (voiceover): Wow. I don’t know how they did it, but somehow, they worked in the Virgin Lopez. (An audio clip of the “Hallelujah” Chorus from Handel’s “Messiah” plays over Catherine dressed in clothing similar to the Virgin Mary) NC (voiceover): This is an odd, odd day. Animated Tarsem: (bounces around the screen) ASK ME WHAT IT MEANS! ASK ME WHAT IT MEANS! NC: Okay, that’s it! (He brings out his gun and aims it at the camera) Animated Tarsem: I am so deep and deserve to be talked about! (As NC starts shooting at him repeatedly (but misses), he makes whooping noises like Daffy Duck) (Frustrated, NC collapses head first onto his desk) Animated Tarsem: (audio) Ha-ha! You cannot kill what was never truly thinking! NC (voiceover): So you might be thinking this is looking like the world’s most hallucinogenic Christmas card. You don’t? Well, Tarsem will fix that. WHAT IF THEY ACTUALLY ADD A CHRISTMAS BORDER AROUND THE FRAME? I’m not even kidding; they put a Christmas border around the frame. What is up with these choices? Do they even care what they’re filming anymore? Animated Tarsem: (speaks with accompanying text onscreen) Merry Christmas from Tarsem. I Got Jennifer Lopez to Dress as the Virgin Mary. What did YOU do This Year? HOO-HOO! HOO-HOO! HOO-HOO! HOO-HOO! NC (voiceover): So while Vaughn thinks he has a lead on where the woman’s being held, it looks like we’re finally going to confront all the psychological issues by diving into Carl’s psyche, coming to grips with the fact that his past does not determine who he is—OR she just fights him like a kung fu movie and rips his nipples off. (Such a scene is presented) NC: …Thank you. That-that makes me understand him so much more! NC (voiceover): So Vaughn does reach the woman in time, but Lopez sees that by killing the big bad Carl, she’s also killing the little innocent Carl. I don’t know how it works either, but the credits are around the corner. Don’t complain. Stargher King: Me got boy. NC (voiceover): So she decides the only sensible thing to do is put him out of his misery. (Catherine holds Young Carl in the circular pool and places him in the water, allowing him to die, thus killing Adult Carl in the real world and the Stargher King in Catherine’s world; Cut back to the real world with Catherine taking off her cloth mask and panting to herself) NC (voiceover): Alright, so you breached security, defied your superiors and you just killed somebody who was in police custody. Uh, I believe we’re looking at 10 to life for that. Good luck in lady prison! I’m sure they make plenty of exploitation films there, so you should be right at home. (Cut to Peter meeting up with Catherine outside at her car (with Carl’s dog, whom she apparently adopted)) NC (voiceover): Oh, I’m sorry, we’ll operate by the movie’s logic. (mockingly speaks as a dumb police officer) Uh, I’m sure you had a good reason for murdering him! We’re just gonna let you off the hook! No charges pressed. (He speaks normally) Any other bullshit development you want to throw our way? Peter: Ramsey told me you were thinking of, uh… Catherine: Reversal? Peter: With the kid that you were working with? Catherine: Yeah, Edward. Peter: Edward. NC (voiceover): Oh, really? So the father of Edward found out that she killed a man through the device, and that suddenly gave him the confidence to entrust his boy to her again? Okay. Catherine: What about you? How are you? Peter: According to the FBI, um…you guys put me on some…drug-fueled mindbender. First thing, it…. triggered a memory I already had, and officially, we found Julia Hickson with good old-fashioned detective work. NC (voiceover): Actually, that is exactly what happened. Nothing you said there was incorrect. Peter: (lends out a hand to shake hands with her) Thanks for everything, Catherine. NC (voiceover): (as Peter) I think we both figured out today that we’re not very good at what we do. (Cut to Catherine in Edward’s world and placing a toy sailboat between the branches of a dead and bare tree in the middle of the desert) NC (voiceover): So Lopez is back in Edward’s mind, they finally go sailing, the ad for her perfume pops up because it obviously looks like a commercial (NC had actually added an image of the Glow perfume over the footage), and the film finally ends.
(Clips from the movie play again as NC speaks)
NC (voiceover): If you’re gonna do really hardcore risqué stuff, you better do it right, and have a good reason for it. I never got that from this flick. Rather than really try to understand somebody’s mind or their psychology, it seems like they just want to fool us with crazy visuals that the film is saying more than it really is. Now with that said, the visuals can be rather impressive at times, and the idea of going into a serial killer’s mind, I have to admit, is pretty cool. But it has to be done, in this case, with more thought and less instinct. At least someone like David Lynch or Ingmar Bergman, who make very confusing films, at least give us a pure descent. It is 100% psychological and emotional interpretation. This film either has too much story or too much artiness that it never balances out, and it just becomes obnoxious, pretentious and annoying.
NC: I mean, wouldn’t it be more interesting if we could really dive into a killer’s mind and analyze it? (Carl (played by Jim Troken) suddenly appears, surprising NC; Carl wears what looks like a mariachi costume with skeletal hands and two black crosses painted over his eyes, and he stands in front of surreal backgrounds the whole time)
Carl: No, Critic. You’ve seen my mind. I’ve bared my soul.
NC: Oh, come on, Carl. Just throwing some weird crazy visuals at us doesn’t count as a character study.
Carl: Well, if you didn’t get what I was trying to say with my symbolism-ness, I’m not going to explain it.
NC: Good. Carl: Oh, good, I’ll explain it! The little boy me is the innocence that’s left!
NC: Yeah, I know.
Carl: (speaks in a low guttural voice) And the me that sounds like the bug from “Men in Black,” that’s the bad me! (He squeals in delight and claps beside himself in joy)
NC: I know. That’s obvious. But guess what? The human brain isn’t that simple.
Carl: Kittens! (An image of a kitten zooms in at the camera, and a scream is heard)
NC: What was that?
Carl: It’s too deep. You wouldn’t get it.
NC: Anyway, the human mind isn’t that simple. (Carl hums to himself, fiddles with his fingers and walks around a bit as NC speaks) Hell, life isn’t that simple! It’s much more complicated! That’s why we make movies about it.
Carl: Well, there’s one other reason we make movies about it.
NC: What’s that?
Carl: So we can make money while looking artsy! Animated Tarsem: That’s life! (Both Carl and the animated Tarsem bounce around and making whooping noises while the Looney Tunes theme music plays in the background)
NC: I give up. I’m the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so you don’t have to. (He gets up to leave) Carl: (audio, speaks in a low, guttural voice) My sandwich would like some baloney!
Channel Awesome Tagline—Peter: If we can’t stop him…he ain’t gonna stop himself.
(A clip of Stargher King acting giddy and clapping in delight is shown one last time)
Note: The Critic ranks The Cell as No. 8 on his Top 11 Worst Reviewed Movies list.