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FearDotCom

Review by: 
Head Cheeze
Release Date: 
2002
Studio: 
Warner Bros.
Genre: 
Horror
Format: 
DVD
Region: 
1 NTSC
Aspect Ratio: 
1.33:1
Directed by: 
William Malone
Cast: 
Stephen Dorff
Natascha McElhone,
Stephen Rea
Udo Kier
Movie: 
0
Extras: 
4
Bottom Line: 
0

I've said this before, but I'll say it again so you don't have to go digging through reviews; movies in which a computer plays a central character or part of the environment almost unilaterally suck ass. The Lawnmower Man, Ghost in the Machine, Tron, Virtuosity, and others have made the computer do things well beyond it's real world capabilities that, in the end, look silly and destroy any semblance of realism that the film strives for. While I can forgive Tron, since it spawned a kick ass arcade game that ate my allowance as a kid, most of the other films deserve no quarter, and FearDotCom is the latest of their ilk.

A mad-genius (who is also apparently the greatest web designer on Earth) named The Doctor (Rea), runs a website where people can watch woman get tortured and murdered. The only catch (besides the fact that you'd have to be sick to watch the content of the site to begin with) is that this web page can glean your deepest fears from a quick scan of your eyes, and within 48 hours, this fear will kill you.

The Doctor views this as punishment for watching, but if he really wanted to punish people, I suggest he sit them in a room and unspool this film.

Detective Riley (Dorff) has been pursuing The Doctor for a couple of years, but has been thrown off the trail due to the fact that the killer changes his URL with regularity. Does this sound even remotely plausible?? The police KNOW the man's real identity (his name is Alistair) yet instead of using detective work to catch him they rely on Yahoo to find his site. No wonder he's alluded them for so long.

When people start popping up with bleeding eyes and dropping dead, Riley calls in the department of health for fear that what he's seeing is a deadly contagion. When super hot D.O.H. investigator Terry (McElhone) determines that this is not a virus, for some reason she still investigates the case as if she were a cop, even taking home evidence and video tapes of victims. Terry and Riley determine that this is the work of The Doctor, because all of the victims computers have been to a snuff website called Feardotcom.com. (because the URL Fear.com was, perhaps, already taken by cybersquatters, I imagine.) . The website not only talks to you and calls you by name, but it can also use cell phones and make you hallucinate, and even has what sounds like a French accent.

Knowing full well that he will die in 48 hours unless he catches the Doctor first, Riley decides to visit the site after having sex with Terry (which couldn't have done much for her ego) and ends up hospitalized. Terry risks her life visiting the site to save her new lover (someone she met a day before. Personally, I'd just move on) A lot of cryptic bullshit and fast cut images follow, until the showdown between The Doctor, Riley and Terry, where nothing is adequately explained, and sequel options are left open. Thankfully this film tanked at the box office, so it's doubtful we will ever be subjected to one.

FearDotCom is a silly, convoluted mess that tries to combine Silence of the Lambs with The Ring and in the end looks like a very long, very tedious Nine Inch Nails video. While director William Malone (House on Haunted Hill) shows that he's got a knack for interesting visuals, the film is so hyperactively edited that none of these images stay on screen long enough to appreciate. The screenplay, based on a story by Moshe Diamant and written for the screen by Josephine Coyle, is riddled with Serial Killer 101 jargon and cop talk clichés that will make you grimace more than any of the supposedly "horrific" moments on screen.

The DVD from Warner Brothers is packed with extra stuff, including a commentary, behind the scenes documentaries, and loads of other features that I didn't delve too deeply into simply because the subject of them was a load of steaming crap.

Fans of seizure-inducing edits and music video production values may be amused for the first quarter of the film, but I challenge anyone to sit through the whole thing. Dull, dark, and frightless, FearDotCom is about as welcome as a virus on your hard drive.
 

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