Cell 213 dull like solitary confinement

Eric Balfour prison horror an "amateurish" effort

Part psychological thriller, part religious horror and part Shawshank Redemption redux, Cell 213 is a wholly amateurish effort that’s neither thoughtful or frightening. Eric Balfour stars as unscrupulous lawyer Michael Grey, who’s falsely convicted of the murder of a mentally unstable client and gets locked away in the very same cell that housed his alleged victim. He goes bonkers himself, thanks to a vicious guard (Michael Rooker), a serpentine warden (Bruce Greenwood), the least threatening alpha-inmate in cinematic history and a litany of strange visions. We’re meant to wonder whether he’s haunted by ghosts, guilt or both, but it’s impossible to care. Painted in broad-stroke cliches and populated entirely by stock characters---the lawyer who bumps off witnesses, the Freeman-esque black prisoner-saviour---Cell 213 succeeds only in approximating the boredom of solitary confinement.

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