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FEAR DOTCOM

SYNOPSIS:
A series of baffling deaths bring together New York detective Mike Reilly (Stephen Dorff) and Health Department inspector Jerry Houston (Natascha McElhone) in a joint investigatation. The sole connection among the victims is the web site feardotcom, which all visited prior to meeting their grisly ends. The site features live murders carried out by a serial killer named 'The Doctor' (Stephen Rea) and it has the power to tap into the deepest fears of those who log on and kill them within 48 hours. Determined to stop the doctor's heinous deeds, Reilly and Houston enter the feardotcom site and embark on a two day life-or-death quest to halt the killings.


Review by Richard Kuipers:
If you're worried about what your bucks are going to buy, there is everything to fear from feardotcom. This incomprehensible mess squanders a fascinating concept and a good cast by having no idea what it's actually trying to say and ducking away every time it has to explain....well, just about everything. 

Shot in Luxembourg and Montreal and trying to pass itself off as being set in New York, the film opens with a cameo from Udo Kier who has read the script and quickly throws himself in the path of a subway train as the only sensible course of action. The reason the film offers for his demise has something to do with a book he's clutching and the appearance of a little girl with long white hair and a white bouncing ball who looks like she's wandered out of Village of the Damned via Fellini's Toby Dammit episode in Spirits of The Dead (1969). 

Enter detective Stephen Dorff and health inspector Natascha McElhone and it seems a live murder web site is the connection in the death of Kier and a couple of other actors not on screen long enough to severely dent their career prospects. With some ideas nicked from Videodrome and a lighting design inspired by Hellraiser, the narrative, such as it is, contends that a serial killer is behind the site and whoever logs on dies within 48 hours. Just how this happens is pathetically 'explained' in mumbo-jumbo psycho-cyber talk that even a computer dummy like myself wouldn't buy for a second. 

Even Dorff and McElhone look lost as they wade through a plot that quickly gives up trying to make sense and settles for staging one sadistic torture scene after another instead. Pity also poor Stephen Rea who plays the mad medico and watch him roll his eyes as he spouts ridiculous dialogue about 'the beauty of death'. Based on an idea by producer Moshe Diamant, who has found a happy haven in Luxembourg recently with this and The Musketeer to dubious credit, feardotcom is a wretched exercise that's only redeemed slightly by a special-effects showcase at the climax that invokes the visual grandeur of German silent film. 

It still doesn't make the plot comprehensible but it's good to look at. This nasty piece of work was directed by William Malone who did a similarly sub-standard job with the 1999 remake of House on Haunted Hill and sinks even further with this putrid outing.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0

FEAR DOTCOM (MA)
(US)

CAST: Stephen Dorff, Natascha McElhone, Stephen Rea

PRODUCER: Moshe Diamant, Limor Diamant

DIRECTOR: William Malone

SCRIPT: Josephine Coyle

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Christian Sebaldt

EDITOR: Alan Strachan

MUSIC: Nicholas Pike

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jérôme Latour

RUNNING TIME: 101 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia TriStar

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 6, 2003

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Col TriStar Entertainment

VIDEO RELEASE: August 27, 2003







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