Stephen King's Cell is back

Posted by David Konow

Even though we cover a lot of technology here on TG, I for one would like to state for the record that I hate cell-phones. It also infuriates me that with so many cell phones, Blackberrys, and iPhones out there, you still can’t get your messages returned or get anyone to pick up the phone to save your life.

Stephen King is somewhat of a luddite in today’s world, because when he wrote his novel Cell, he admitted he didn’t have a cell phone. Neither does Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan. When you’re that big, people will wait until you can get to a landline. Now Cell, where people are turned into zombies via their cell-phones, is coming to the big screen, with the help of John Cusack and director Tod “Kip” Williams (Paranormal Activity 2).
You may remember some time back that Cell was going to be directed by Eli Roth from a script by Larry Karaszewski and Scott Alexander (Ed Wood, 1408). Then after the hostile reception of Hostel II, Roth claimed he was moving away from horror films, and this version of Cell fell apart. 
Now Cell is back up and running, and while King adaptations have never fallen out of favor, perhaps he’s back in the zeitgeist right now because of Under the Dome, which will debut next month on CBS. As Giant Freakin Robot reminds us, we’ve also got the reboot of Carrie, Mercy, and A Good Marriage coming up as well. 
As Robot tells us, the project is hoping to sell at the Cannes Film Festival with Cusack attached to star. There’s also a finished screenplay by Adam Alleca (the reboot of Last House on the Left), and the film is slated to start shooting in September.
Personally, I’d love to se a horror film that’s anti-technology, or where technology causes all the trouble, and as a John Cusack fan it will be great to see him back in a King story. (Don’t forget he was also in Stand By Me as a lad.) 
Back in 2007, I spoke to Alexander and Karaszewski, the original Cell screenwriters, and they were clearly excited about taking on a horror ensemble piece, even though adapting a King novel can be quite a task. 
As Alexander told me, “It gives us a little more freedom in terms of our usual kind of satiric writing because it’s about cell phones destroying the world, turning people into zombies.” Karaszewski added, “I thought a movie making sharp commentary on how people have fallen back on all of these mechanical means of communicating with each other instead of just communicating with the person across the room from you was worthy of a big movie. It grounds the horror and the zombie stuff in really good commentary about the world we’re living in. 
And in terms of length and scope, “It probably falls into The Stand-type of story,” Alexander said. “Like a magnet, it ends up grabbing a lot of characters, a lot of people and a lot of ground. It kinda gets bigger and bigger as it goes along. That was tough in terms of trying to chop it down to movie length.” Here’s hoping the new version will encompass the same depth and terror, as well as make a good commentary on relying on too much technology.