ChildCare Action Project: Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP)


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Entertainment Media Analysis Report
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The Cell (2000), (R)
CAP Score: 36
CAP Influence Density: 1.76
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ALERT: To fully understand this report you should first visit the topics suggested by the CAP Table of Contents.

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NOTE: We make no scoring allowances for Hollywood's trumped-up "messages" to excuse, or its manufacturing of justification for aberrant behavior or imagery. This is NOT a movie review service. It is a movie analysis service to parents and grandparents to tell them the truth about movies using the Truth. If you do not want the plot, ending, or "secrets" of a movie spoiled for you, skip the Summary/Commentary. In any case, be sure to visit the Findings/Scoring section -- it is purely objective and is the heart of the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Model applied to this movie

On July 26, 2000 the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry released a joint statement regarding the dangers of violence in entertainment. I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. An exceptionally important statement in the release that deserves your earnest attention is "There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." [Emphasis is mine] Another statement in the report is "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." From our five-year study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed child psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the joint statement and our findings.

If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary likely using a mix of KJV and NIV.


The Cell (R) -- a bizarre trip into man's perception of the deranged mind.

A most bizarre movie, indeed. A techno-fantasy using modern technology to link minds at the subconscious level. Catherine Deane (Jennifer Lopez) has been linking regularly with the mind of a boy in a coma, trying to bring him out of it. More fantasy comes as the movie presents the thinking that if your mind thinks something is real, it is. And if your mind thinks something can kill you, it can. This sets up the dangers of connecting with the mind of another comatose individual -- a exceptionally nasty and vile serial killer, Carl Stargher (Vincent D'Onofrio) who has his latest victim in a glass cage setup to drown her in 40 hours just like all the rest. And you meet the rest if you watch this show. They are all dead, decaying and dolled up like dolls.

At the end of a horse ride in the desert, Catherine dismounts while her horse turns into a toy horse. She then treks along the ridge of a sand mountain for a long, long time to meet the boy in their minds. With what appears to be some success at "reaching" the boy, the project magnates decide to let Catherine enter Stargher's mind to try to discover the location of the victim. As is logical, FBI Agent Novak (Vince Vaughn) is involved in the investigation. And he is not only involved in the investigation, he gets involved in the mind search to rescue Catherine. At first, there were only two people mutually messing with minds: the boy and Catherine. Now there are three traipsing around in a meld of the three minds: Cahterine's mind, Novak's mind and the killer's. Catherine's mind, she being a quiet, pleasant and confident lady, is portrayed as sparkly and flowery. The boy's mind is portrayed as dry and mostly defensive with some offensive imagery when he felt cornered. While we do not see how the FBI agent's mind appears, we do see the killer's mind: dark, ugly, vulgar, twisted and soaked. What do we expect since the killer's father was quite probably the most evil father of all time. He was emotionally, physically and sexually abusive. He screamed at the young Carl with wild, irrational accusations, beat him and used him for an ironing board, and made him look at the privates of some almost-nude woman in their living room. Don't know whether the woman was Carl's mother or the father's girlfriend. All the horrors that happened to the boy combined with a convenient virus to create the psychotic killer he was. But, of course, the parent was the most to blame.

The tour of the minds of the adults was most bizarre. I wonder how a human mind can think up stuff like that which was shown. Demon faces. A horse sliced into about ten pieces vertically -- and still alive as indicated by the pulsating innards. Here is where you will meet the victims of Stargher. All dead and decaying but animated by an intricate contraption. And all nude.

Everything of the tours through the minds is presented in a dream-like or nightmare state. Never concrete and never completely misty, as if the entire physical universe is only what you see. Rarely with smooth and normal motion but mostly with ill-defined and questionable haunting motion and sensory imagery. This in particular is where music has as much or more of of a contribution to the total than the visual information.

While a very well made and very intricately knitted piece of work, there was a great deal of ignominy. Of course, foul language was one of the largest contributors to the unacceptable programming [Matt. 12:36-37]. This is an R-rated movie and I guess that is supposed to excuse the sin of filthy language [Col. 3:8[. As some blame movies for planting ideas into the minds of they who would otherwise not think up such evil I believe this movie could do that, especially in the presentation of the putridly evil father [3 John 11]. And I am not the only one who claims evil or bad behavior plants aberrant behavior templates in others. Not only do four professional health associations now confirm copycat properties of viewing aberrant and evil behavior, God said so a very long time ago [1 Cor. 15:33].

Additional programming with possible copycat properties which may embolden the viewer, desensitize him/her, or encourage dropping of inhibitions and loss of coping skills might include the plethora of nudity and sexual perversions [1Ths. 4:3; Jude 7], the arrow impalements, the spooling of intestines on to a "rotisserie" as it is pulled from the gut of a live man, the sword impalements, or the dead woman in the tub full of blood. Or the numerous bloody injuries, the portrayal of magic to control or gain, the brutal confinement as prelude to death, the flesh ripping, or the numerous sequences of very bizarre imagery [Gal. 5:19-21].


  • (KJV) 1 Cor. 15:33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. (NIV) Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.
  • Matt. 12:36-37 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.
  • Col. 3:8 But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.
  • 3 John 11 Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.
  • 1Ths. 4:3 It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality;
  • Jude 7 In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.
  • Gal. 5:19-21 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.


    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.

    FINDINGS / SCORING: The Cell (2000) CAP Thermometers

    NOTE: Multiple occurrences of each item described below may be likely.

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W):
  • transporting a dead body
  • explosive startle with demon face
  • man hanging by rings through the skin on his back
  • decayed body ridden with insects
  • violent abduction
  • graphic pictures of murder victims
  • attempted drowning murder
  • macabre collection of dolls
  • brutal confinement as torture
  • many long sequences and series of bizarre imagery
  • slicing of a horse into sections, still alive - pulsating organs
  • stabbing with scissors to fetch intestine
  • spooling of intestines on to a "rotisserie" as it is pulled from the gut of a live man
  • arrow impalements
  • flesh ripping
  • bloody beating, exceptionally graphic
  • sword impalements, graphic
  • graphic injuries

    Impudence/Hate (I)(1):
  • 16 uses of the most foul of the foul words
  • 10 uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary
  • extremely abusive father; physically, sexually, emotionally
  • speaking of (other) father with deep hatred

    Sex/Homosexuality (S):
  • form-fitting outfits
  • ghosting of female anatomy through clothing
  • rear nudity
  • full nudity, repeated, some exceptionally vulgar
  • cartoon nudity
  • mutilated nude body
  • decayed nude bodies made up as dolls, long sequence
  • man in tub
  • nude dead woman in tub of blood
  • "demon-possessed" man molesting a woman (clothed)
  • picture nudity

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • smoking dope
  • smoking

    Offense to God (O)(2):
  • one use of God's name in vain with the four letter expletive and 7 times without it
  • a horse turning into a toy
  • demon faces
  • portrayal of magic to manipulate or gain
  • palmistry

    Murder/Suicide (M)(3):
  • drowning murder

  • (1) As noted in CAP Special Report-001, "Investigation Area and Scoring Trend," of the six CAP Investigation Areas, Impudence/Hate was the strongest presence in all four movie classifications. It has a strong revelation about the entertainment media.

    (2) The use of the three/four letter word vocabulary without God's name in vain is incorporated into the Impudence/Hate Investigation Area. The use of God's name with or without the four letter expletive is incorporated into the Offense to God Investigation Area. There is no duplication.

    (3) Only portrayal of successful murder or suicide are incorporated into Murder/Suicide. Portrayal of attempts to commit murder or suicide and deaths by police action or war are incorporated into Wanton Violence/Crime.

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    Lord, Master, Teacher, Savior, God.

    Thomas A. Carder
    ChildCare Action Project: Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP)

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