Those who might shift the blame for Cell’s shortcomings onto a writer with a feeble understanding of the source book should be aware that Stephen King himself had a hand in composing the screenplay. Not only that, he also warned admirers of said novel that some changes that might rub them the wrong way would be imminent. King wasn’t lying, having willingly helped turn a visceral and harrowing work like Cell into a limp-wristed 28 Days Later riff with too many cut corners to freak out seasoned horror buffs.
Even as children, most of us have a perverse interest in the gruesome. This is not something new to modern culture, no matter how shocked we might be regarding the explicit nature of current video games and movies. Classic myths and fairy tales were tapping into human nature’s odd fascination with the macabre and grotesque since stories began. No contemporary writer has been more attuned to this strange proclivity than Stephen King, and the popularity of his work is a testament to his insight.