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Atmospheric and effectively scary at times, “Cellphone” is admirable in its attempt to defy expectations, even if it doesn’t fully succeed.

Cellphone

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Technology has always been a big part of horror. From time machines to flying cars, writers and filmmakers have always imagined what terrors society’s advancements would bring.

The rise of the cell phone has found a unique place in scary movies. They are so ubiquitous that they are impossible to ignore, but they would also solve most problems before they ever began.

Films have come up with a few solutions to combat the ease with which cell phones can ruin a tension-filled story.

The most common is having the victims in an area where there is no signal. This is an offshoot of someone cutting the phone lines and is readily accepted by audiences. Other often-seen solutions are losing the phone, deciding to take a break from technology, or just setting the tale in the past.

Surprisingly, there are not as many horror movies about cell phones as one would expect. They definitely exist, but they are usually more of a device that serves the plot than an integral piece.

Cellphone is a film that tries to be one of the exceptions.

Wynne (Whitney Rose Pynn) spends her days grieving the death of her husband. In an attempt to move on, she leaves her life behind. But there is no running from the memories she has or the guilt she feels.

She soon begins seeing disturbing images on her phone that tell the future.

For all its strangeness, it is harmless. It is not long before she realizes her life is in danger.

It is a premise that is seen often in horror films: a person struggles to deal with a personal tragedy — death, divorce, abandonment — before encountering a supernatural phenomenon that only they can see.

Lives are at stake, and they must save the day. It is not original, but it can provide entertainment.

Almost immediately, Cellphone gives off a different vibe. It does not use a traumatic event as a backdrop for its frightening elements. The more emotional aspects are the most important part of the film.

Things move steadily, allowing the audience to understand the pain that Wynne is going through.

Still, the movie is at its best when the focus is on horror.

Director Luke Sommer — making his feature film directorial debut — manages to create an oppressive atmosphere, and there are some pretty good scares in Cellphone. It is hard not to feel that more effort should have been placed on these moments.

Cellphone makes a noble attempt at being something more than just another formulaic horror movie that ends up falling just short. The script, written by Rachel Sommer, has a tendency to wander, undermining the emotion and the scares that have been effectively done.

Cellphone is fine for what it is, a competent indie horror film, but it has a few too many superfluous scenes to make it truly a must-see addition to the tech horror subgenre.

Overall Rating (Out of 5 Butterflies): 3

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