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Written and directed by Todd E. Freeman

Russell Carpenter (Robert McKeehan) attends to his wife, Sadie (Haley Talbot), in hospital where she is terminally ill with a fatal disease that the state hospitals cannot cure. With Sadie only having weeks to live, Doctor Victor Brandt (Christopher Toyne) approaches Russell and offers Sadie a chance at surviving if both she and Russell embark on his experimental cure at a private clinic. Doctor Brandt having survived the same disease himself persuades Russell as he agrees to sign up for the programme.

3 weeks later Russell wakes up in the facility which is built like a high tech prison. The patients are free to do as they please whilst the doctor watches their every move via the security cameras. Sadie and Russell, along with the a handful of other patients have small incisions where the ‘cure’ has been inserted into their body. Finding out that two murderers are also locked up in the facility with them, Sadie decides to enter the restricted zone to speak with them. Only after talking to one of the murderer’s does Sadie learn that all is not what it appears and after a series of gruesome incidents, she finally realises that the cure could be worse than the disease itself.

Todd E. Freeman, the director of Cell Count, has created a masterful movie. I’m not aware of his budget but the film is expertly filmed with beautiful shots of the sterile, clinical facility in which the patients reside. The authenticity of the location and sets absorbed me to the point that I actually felt like a patient suffering the same unknowns as those in the film. Even the Asian lady presenting the facility’s video was a nice touch and reminded me of the days of LOST when the viewers and characters were introduced to the surroundings by the Dharma videos.

Unlike many movies made recently, Todd has opted for the good, old fashioned steady filmmaking rather than the abused shakey cam which fellow HCF writer Dr Lenera abhors. The majority of the shots have a blue tint to them re-enforcing the clinical feel which reflects the film’s environment. The entire film has a superb scientific vision, from sets to costume, replicating the uneasy situation hospitals can put you in, complete with lack of knowledge and the faith in which you put, as a patient, in the educated individuals who you believe are going to save your life.

The cast are a talented bunch, each bringing their own character to life. Robert McKeehan and Haley Talbot as married couple Russell and Sadie ooze emotion as we witness Rusell’s heartbreak with Sadie’s illness and her subsequent recovery which reignites the passion in which both have dreamed of for a long time. The supporting cast of butch Billy (John Breen), artistic William (Eric Martin Reid), sensitive Mary (Adrienne Vogel), courageous Mason (Sean McGrath), psychotic Tiny Tim (Judd Eustice) and remorseful Abraham (Ted Rooney) give subtle yet remarkable performances. Christopher Toyne’s Doctor Brandt reminds me of a pantomime villain, not too dissimilar to Dieter Laser from The Human Centipede First Sequence. Toyne’s Doctor isn’t as focussed on as Tom Six’s Doctor in Human Centipede, but he’s still a character you would not wish to be locked in a facility with, knowing what he does.

There are quite a few shocking scenes in this movie, one of which involves a French bulldog and a patient named Billy who has the fatal disease. When it happens you will be astounded and if not slightly amused in a disturbing fashion. Other warped sights involve Cronenberg-style body horror where a tumour-type tissue erupts from a patient’s mouth. If I was to say any more,  I would indeed be spoiling the film.

The story is quite an interesting one providing that fatal disease in question is never given a name or properly referred to, though this in large unimportant. The cure and the metamorphosis is a little vague at times and is given the same ambiguity as the disease. Nevertheless, the story is indeed an enthralling experiment with the characters who invest their trust in a disturbed Doctor who’s plans are to merely test these individuals and record his findings, whatever the consequences.

Cell Count is a delectable slice of body horror that will have you quivering at the mere thought of the NHS.

Rating: ★★★★☆

About Bat 8055 Articles
I love practical effects, stop-motion animation and gore, but most of all I love a good story! I adore B-movies and exploitation films in many of their guises and also have a soft spot for creature features. I review a wide range of media including movies, TV series, books and videogames. I'm a massive fan of author Hunter S. Thompson and I enjoy various genre of videogames with Kingdom Hearts and Harvest Moon two of my all time favs. Currently playing: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Yakuza Zero and Webbed.

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