15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Oh the humanity!,
This review is from: Fear Dot Com (DVD)The only fear in "Feardotcom" is the fear you will have wondering if you can survive watching this clunker. Directed by William Malone (who made the lousy remake of "House on Haunted Hill"), "Feardotcom" is a horror film so loaded with clichés; so weighed down with bad acting, a confusing script, plodding pacing, and continuity errors in the thousands that surviving the experience says something important about your mental and physical fortitude. If you do come out the other side unscathed, as I did, the most you will get out of the experience is the realization that you are a complete dunderhead for sticking with it when instinct told you to turn it off five minutes after the film started. It kills me to write such an acidic review of Malone's monstrosity only because actor Stephen Rea co-stars in it. Rea, if you aren't familiar with his acting, usually turns in excellent performances. His role as a conflicted yet sensitive forensics expert in the HBO drama "Citizen X" was one of the best acting gigs in the 1990s. Rea also starred in the critically acclaimed "The Crying Game." What he is doing in this boat anchor is a question for the ages. Maybe he needed the money. Maybe he owed a friend a favor. Maybe he went completely insane. Whatever the case, he should have passed on "Feardotcom." The damage to his career may well be irreparable.
I never felt as though I caught on to the plot in this film. Perhaps I am a lazy viewer who gets a little crabby when a movie doesn't reveal everything to me in an easy to understand way. Nah, that can't be it. If so, why would I watch films like "Fando & Lis" and "Begotten"? Challenging films don't usually bore me. Problem is, "Feardotcom" isn't the sort of movie you want to find challenging. The central idea of the film involves a nasty looking website called, what else, fear.com. Anyone who signs on for a peek dies mysteriously two or so days later. Why? Apparently, the ghost of a girl named Jeannine haunts the site and kills anyone who dares log on. Why? Apparently, Jeannine died at the hands of the nefarious Alistair Pratt (Rea), a psycho who abducts, tortures, and murders women so he can televise his handiwork live on the Internet. Now Pratt is staging a new round of webcam murders, seemingly unaware the revenant of one of his former victims seeks revenge. For the record, Alistair Pratt is a real loony who likes to whisper overwrought serial killer type lingo to his victims as he prepares to slice and dice for the entertainment of his fans. Rea is a great actor, but even he fails to pull Pratt's dialogue off in a convincing manner.
Enter stage left (or right) Detective Mike Reilly (Stephen Dorff) and Department of Health Inspector Terry Huston (Natascha McElhone). Reilly and Huston become involved in both the Pratt investigation and the website hauntings after a couple of German tourists accidentally film their experiences (and ultimate demises) with fear.com. Predictably, and after several other minor characters expire, Reilly signs on to the website in an effort to discover exactly what is going on. Start the clock, folks, because the cop only has forty-eight hours to crack the case before he ends up in a garbage bag down by the river. Sadly for Reilly, he ends up in the hospital for a time, thus leaving Huston to pick up most of the investigative duties. She discovers the secrets behind the Jeannine incident, finds the girl's corpse underwater, and eventually uncovers Alistair Pratt's secret lair. There's a big showdown between Reilly, Huston, Pratt, and the ghost of Jeannine before the credits mercifully ring down on a film that ought to find comparisons to such dreck as "Manos, The Hands of Fate" and "Invasion of the Blood Farmers." O.K., I am exaggerating; it's not as bad as those two films, but "Feardotcom" really ought to win some sort of award for bad filmmaking.
The movie's difficulties are just too much to overcome. First, the acting is insipid. Even Rea can't bring himself to inject a modicum of interest into his character. Dorff and McElhone resemble less human beings and more two of those wooden chiefs you used to see outside cigar shops. How can a viewer care about a film when he or she cannot care about any of the characters? Second, it's obvious Malone made his actors secondary to the special effects, a bad move here. "Feardotcom" is chock full of dark buildings, strobe light effects, and the sort of cheap shocks routinely employed by your local haunted house around Halloween. It's just not scary; I kept expecting the principal characters to break into an extended disco dance sequence with all those lights spinning around. Finally, the continuity errors massacre any hope the film had at success. Suspending disbelief is important in any film, but doing so here is impossible. It took several days for a hemophiliac to perish at the hands of Pratt? How did Huston find a body under all that submerged junk? Couldn't anyone in the world sign on to that website? Sigh.
The "Feardotcom" DVD contains loads of extras: a trailer for the film, cast and crew filmographies, a deleted scene that makes no sense whatsoever, an interview with the director, and a behind the scenes featurette. Maybe we should give it up for Malone and his "Feardotcom" juggernaut. How many films this bad manage to get a theatrical release in this day and age? Precious few, my friends, precious few. I think this one went in and out of the theaters so quickly it gave moviegoers whiplash. Even horror fans would do well to give this one a pass.