20 Strange Facts About “The Cell”

The word strange doesn’t begin to describe the 2000 movie The Cell. Part Se7en/Silence of the Lambs gritty crime thriller and part The Matrix/Inception dreamlike, and it makes for a truly unique viewing experience.

It’s always been very divisive among horror fans, some claiming that it’s artistically brilliant, and others arguing that it’s a whole lot of style with no actual substance. But the one thing it’s definitely not is boring!

So, on its 20th anniversary, we thought it would be fun to take a dive into the warped and twisted mind of this incredibly bizarre movie. Here are 20 strange facts about The Cell:

1. The movie was director Tarsem Singh’s directorial debut for a feature film.

2. He had previously gained notoriety from directing R.E.M. “Losing My Religion” music video.

There are certainly aesthetic similarities between the music video and The Cell.

3. It was also the screenwriting debut of Mark Protosevich, who would go on to write screenplays for Poseiden, I Am Legend, and the Oldboy.

4. Vince Vaughn sought his FBI agent role as a way to breakout of his usual comedic typecasting.

He took the Norman Bates role in 1998’s Psycho for the same reason.

5. One of the conditions for the character of Julia was that actress be a good swimmer due to spending all the time in the water tank. Actress Tara Subkoff said that she used to be a lifeguard and was a strong swimmer, but apparently she wouldn’t hold her breath without holding her nose, which proved troublesome when shooting.

6. The dream desert scenes were shot in Namibia.

7. Costume Designer Eiko Ishioka wanted the costumes for Jennifer Lopez to be uncomfortable because her character was meant to be tortured.

8. The red bodysuits were reused from Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which Eiko Ishioka was also costume designer for.

It’s a truly unique costume that looks both old fashioned and futuristic at the same time.

9. Tarsem Singh loved Ishioka’s costume design so much that he exclusively worked with her until her passing in 2012.

10. Much of the production design was based around the music videos of Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson.

11. Whalen’s Infraction is not actually a real type of schizophrenia and was invented just for the movie.

12. The movie features a pre-Breaking Bad Dean Norris as a police detective. He also played a SWAT Team member in Terminator 2: Judgement Day.

This movie’s serial killer was so bizarre, it must have caused him to transfer to the DEA.

13. The device that Carl (Vincent D’Onofrio) puts Peter (Vince Vaughn) into in the dream was actually based on a real medieval torture device called the intestinal crank.

14. According to Vincent D’Onofrio, his wife was so disturbed from seeing his performance, that she wouldn’t let him sleep in her bed for two weeks.

15. The film received a very mixed reception, with some claiming that it was too strange or that it was style over substance. However, Roger Ebert gave it one of the most positive reviews and even put it on his top 10 list of 2000 movies.

16. Despite the mixed reviews, the movie was a financial success, grossing $104 million on a $33 million budget.

17. Jennifer Lopez stated that after Anaconda and The Cell, she was done with horror movies because she didn’t want to be known as a “scream queen”. She would however star in another tense thriller Enough, two years later.

Anaconda was far less divisive. Everyone just agreed that it’s terrible, but fun in a cheesy way.

18. Six years later, Vince Vaughn and Vincent D’Onofrio would play brothers in The Break-Up.

19. The Cell was nominated for the Best Makeup Oscar, but lost to How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

20. There was a sequel released in 2009, The Cell 2. However it had absolutely no connection to this film and was universally panned.

It’s one of those “sequels” that’s just the exact same plot as the first one with no carryover story.

Which of these did you already know? Which one’s surprised you? Let us know in the comments!

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