CELL: The Web Series

This new web series debuts on Feb 3, 2010. This is one to watch. I’ve only seen one episode. It was enough to make me come back for more.

Starring: Danny Cameron, Kevin McCarthy, Jourdan Gibson
Rating: 8/10
Directed By: Mark Gardner
Runtime: 7 minutes

Taking on a review for a project that a friend of mine is working on is always a questionable endeavor.

I have a few rules I live by. My first rule is: I can’t be bought. I will not give something a good review if it doesn’t deserve it. My second rule is: If it’s a true indie production, I will not trash it, even if I feel it deserves it. Rather than say something mean, I just won’t say anything. I think these two rules serve me well.

But when it’s a friend’s project, saying nothing pretty much tells them you hated it. And that’s always awkward. So when my friend Heather came to me and said she wanted me to review a project she was working on, I was hesitant, but she said it was really good. I decided, hey, she was on the crew, she wasn’t the writer, director, or star. So what the hell . . . I agreed to give it a look.

At this point, you should be putting a few pieces together. I’m writing about it, so I must have liked it, yes? Yes, indeed. I liked it.

Cell: The Web Series is part of the new media revolution. It’s a series that you can watch for free – on the web. Unlike most of the web series I’ve watched, however, this one appears to be have been made by a group of people who know how to make a movie. Or in this case, a series.

It looks professional.

Mark Gardner, the writer/director, sent me the first episode of the series, and I am intrigued (my definition of intrigued – “Mark, give me some more episodes I do not wish to wait what do you mean no you won’t give me anymore?”). It was that good.

Like any good writer, Mark isn’t giving me any more information than is absolutely necessary. As a writer myself, I appreciate that. As a curious fan, I’m really frustrated. I was tempted to threaten him with a bad review if he didn’t cough up the goods, but that just seemed evil. Damn my ethics!

Cell: The Web Series gives every appearance of being a horror series, something we haven’t had nearly enough of. The horror seems to be primarily psychological at first (except for the cattle prod!), but I’m assured there will be more violence later on (Heather told me she had to make a bucket or two of blood). Even with that, it’s more about the characters and the situations, less about the abuse.

That’s another good sign. I love gore. I’m a fan of gore. Can’t get enough gore. In high school, I was voted most likely to request an extra helping of gore. That being said, in my experience, horror movies that use less gore spend more time on plot, characters, and tension.

There is plenty of tension in the first episode of Cell. It begins with the opening titles – quick, simple, minimalist, and a theme that is haunting. The opening theme becomes a basis for much of the score. This is another great sign- the score is a perfect fit for the tone of the episode.

Many indie productions fail at this point. Music isn’t a frill, it’s core. The right music is key to establishing a mood for a scene, or for the piece as a whole. The wrong music? It’s like high blood pressure – the “silent killer”. Most viewers won’t pick up on it, but they’ll know that it just doesn’t feel right.

As far as a story, the first episode doesn’t give anything away. An unconscious man is carried into a cell in what appears to be a basement. His captor talks to him in his unconscious state – “Remember, you asked for this”, “Ask, and Michael shall provide”. Who is Michael? Why is the man here? I don’t know!

There is another cell in the basement, and a woman locked in that cell. She’s been here for awhile, evidenced by her lack of She doesn’t give any information, just a warning: “You shouldn’t be loud, he doesn’t like it”. She is correct. “He” doesn’t like noise. And “he” punishes transgressions. Our mystery captive has two lessons to learn. The first is: No lessons or loud noises. He learns that lesson.

Our first episode is short, sweet, and packed with numerous clues that tell us nothing but hint at a much larger mythos. A scenario is established that leaves us with nothing but questions. Why was the man captured? What does the captor mean “You asked for this?” Who is the woman? Most importantly to me, who is Michael?

Cell: The Web Series is currently set for a 13 episode run. It’s primary stream will be on on Koldcast.tv, it will also be embedded at the series web site. Episode One premiers February 3, 2010. New content will be posted once a week, including behind the scenes footage.

I’m hooked. I can’t wait for more. This is one to watch, my friends. You’re going to be happy you got in at the beginning.

Austin Books Sidekick Store Final Days
Located at 5400 North Lamar here in sunny Austin (formerly Laboratory Computers), the Sidekick Store has become the clearing house for Austin Books' overwhelming amount of back issues.
Noboru Iguchi returns to Fantastic Fest
... a movie about parasite ass zombies is pretty much right up my alley and Zombie Ass will be making it's World Premier at Fantastic Fest this year...
Fantastic Fest Announces Sell-Out!
Fantastic Fest almost sold out - Daytime badges still available.
Cast A Deadly Spell
Cast A Deadly Spell is just the right balance of supernatural strangeness and detective thrills, set in a world just different enough from ours yet strangely familiar.
Fantastic Fest 2011 Second Half Reviews
Tron rambles on about the second half of Fantastic Fest, which is always way better than he makes it sound. Hopefully, you'll wade through this mess and find some Gold for your 2012 movie season.
Fantastic Fest 2011 First Half Reviews
For those not in the know, Fantastic Fest is the largest genre festival in the United States, bringing the best Horror, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Asian and generally bizarro cinema from all around the world to our small little hamlet of Austin, Texas.