The Red Cell (2007) – By Brian Morton

 I have to admit, I tend to like horror movies that aren’t what they seem, which might seem strange given my love of movies like Texas Chainsaw, that is exactly what it seems, any horror movie that has me wondering what is really going on through most of the movie can grab me and hold me for almost any amount of time. That’s what happened with the new indie movie, The Red Cell.

The Red Cell is a fairly complex movie for a movie with only one or two sets, here’s the story: Ayden is a very sick young man, he’s in the hospital for emergency surgery on a tumor in his head. We see him sign some forms for his doctor and explain that he doesn’t want his family to know until after surgery is over and then he passes out. When he regains consciousness, he’s locked in a small room covered in cardboard being watched by someone who we only see through an eyehole cut into the wall. As Ayden tries to figure out where he is and why and how he got there, a strange figure in a gas mask systematically tortures him. The question becomes is this all in Ayden’s mind, is he having some kind of strange hallucination brought on by his condition or the treatments or had he been captured and tortured by some mad doctor?

Throughout the movie, I was pretty sure of myself that I had it all figured out, but then, in a very good twist ending, it was all thrown out the window! The Red Cell may be a low budget movie, but it’s on the same level as a movie like Saw. Red Glass Films has set themselves a very high bar to get to, setting out to create a ‘new wave of horror’, and, with The Red Cell, I have to say, they’re living up to their credo! Both psychological and physical, The Red Cell combines some gore with a load of mental terror. The claustrophobia that Ayden feels is transferred to the audience and, as he begins to have hallucinations, we’re left to wonder what’s real and what isn’t…even doubting that he’s even really in a red cell at all. Chris Schwartz has taken a sub-genre of horror (what’s become known as torture porn) and put a new and exciting spin on it. This isn’t just a set piece for the audience to watch the slow torture of poor Ayden, it’s a great story told in an excellent use of limited means. I’m giving The Red Cell three and a half out of four cigars, and it only lost a half a cigar because Donovan Schwartz who plays Ayden, seems a little wooden at times, now, don’t think I’m being nit-picky, there were times that it felt like that was what was needed (after all, Ayden is a very sick guy) but there were times that it felt like Schwartz was unsure of his performance. That alone doesn’t take anything away from The Red Cell, it’s an excellent movie and a tribute to what can be done with a low budget and some creative ideas! So, until next time, when I’ll lock myself into a small room and watch movies…wait, that’s what I LIKE to do…until then, remember that the best movies are bad movies.