Newest Review: ... course. I feel that I definitely wasted 100 or so minutes of my life and I don't even think my DVD copy of this film could be donated t... more
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Member Name: wampyrii
Date: 06/06/03, updated on 07/06/03 (276 review reads)
Advantages: Guilty pleasure
Disadvantages: You probably won't like it...hell no one else did lol
A man chases a white haired girl onto a railway track before being run down. The post-mortem look of horror on his face portrays a horror far more extreme than simply being hit by a train...and then there's the matter of the perimortem bleeding from his ears and eyes. The girl is never found and no one else remembers seeing her.
A German exchange student goes nuts and is dragged raving into a police station to cool off, his eyes are bleeding and a little later he is dead. Cause of death...unknown. A little later his girlfriend too is found dead in the bath having seemingly bled to death but no visible wounds and the look of horror on her face betrays otherwise.
So starts Feardotcom. What do these three and those which follow have in common?
We soon find the link between them all is a voyeur site called "fear.com" which allows its subscribers to tune in to watch the slow torture and murder of kidnapped victims at the hands of a sadistic doctor who both delights and is an expert in inflicting pain. It's the ultimate extension of fly-on-the-wall voyeurism but how is this liked to the apparent psychosis and ultimate bloody death of those who tune in? Who is the girl who seems to haunt their visions before hand and how can it all be stopped when the owner of the site and perpetrator of these kidnappings and murders has evaded capture for so long...?
Such are the very beginnings of the questions posed to the pair who find themselves inexorably drawn to the case and naturally they can't resist the temptation to visit the site themselves despite their better judgement and are drawn inexorably into the insanity which will eventually lead to their deaths unless they can crack the mystery.
Sometimes it's impossible to know where to begin with a review. I kinda liked this movie, but at the same time it's fair to say that its screenplay is such a horrendous mess and the visual
s so nightmarish that I can imagine a fair number of people walking out of the cinema in revulsion or not getting any further than half an hour into the DVD! It's also fair to say that at the last time of checking it was ranked at #70 in the Internet Movie Database's bottom 100 of all time based on user votes and had no positive reviews at the meta-critic site rottentomatoes.com so erm, you'll probably want to ignore me and anything else I might say here and just avoid it.
Anyhoo, for those still interested, it's a horror movie and one which borrows liberally from one of my all time favourites, the very creepy Japanese movie "Ringu" in many respects. In that movie, watchers of a cursed videotape full of nightmarish imagery would die within a certain amount of time unless they broke the curse. The makers of Feardotcom are obviously fans too(and sneakily rushed their movie out in front of the Hollywood remake of Ringu in the States) as their movie follows upon very similar lines indeed, this time though upping the technological stakes by drawing the web into the mix. Internet based thrillers aren't exactly a new thing but I rather liked the way this one utilised the idea.
If the plot outline I've given sounded a little confused then I'm sorry, the screenplay is one of the worst I've seen for a while...it really is a chaotic mess. It seems the writers had some great ideas, but lacked the artistry to actually craft a decent story around them so to get from one idea to the next they either just leap there with no explanation as to how we reached this point or cause our characters to take the most illogical (and outlandishly correct) guesses as to where the whole thing is going. For instance, a German exchange student and his girlfriend die with blood pouring out of various orifices and a look of terror on their faces. A video diaries they made the day before shows them cavorting around for 8 hours...oh and goi
ng online for 20 seconds...conclusion? Well naturally it means that
they must have visited an internet site which kills them 48 hours later by building upon their deepest psychological fears apparently!! Err, yeah, obviously eh? Don't think that's an isolated incident either because it continues in the same vein throughout. This also gives rise to some of the dumbest horror clichés being recycled again, right down to the "whatever you do, don't go down into the basement"(this time, "don't log in to the website") scenario which is used not once, not twice but THREE times! Arghhh! And on the subject of recycling, if you've seen Ringu then you'll notice the similarities between this movie and that one and second guess everything to come 10 minutes before each supposedly 'twist' event is going to happen as well.
On the other hand, the acting is fairly good for a horror flick and it's nice to see one which isn't populated by scream queen teens with push-up bras and $10,000 smiles for a change although it's fair to say the characterisation is virtually non-existent. We have a detective bloke(Steven Dorff) and a health inspector bird(Natascha McElhone) investigating, that's about as deep into their shoes as we get and a sadistic doctor who is erm, a 'sadist' and that's as far as we get with him too! The doctor particularly is a completely wasted opportunity because aside from delivering a few twisted speeches and quoting Stalin he is pretty non-existent throughout...he is also a totally unconvincing psychopath coming across more like a nutty professor so perhaps this was a good thing. I spent a lot of this movie mourning wasted opportunities because with a little tidying up of the screenplay and a bit of direction given to the cast it could have been so much better because there ARE some things to really like about it...if you are a fan of horror movies and have found all the rec
ent offerings to be a bit pants.
The bottom line for those who DO NOT like horror movies or know they probably won't appreciate or give a flying toss about some of the clever imagery used throughout is that Feardotcom a nasty little gory mess and you're unlikely to find anything at all to like about it, give it one star and avoid it like 99% of movie critics seem to be suggesting you do...if it ever gets released here of course...I've still yet to see it on anything other than Region 1 DVD.
..and for those still here, I'll assume you do like horror movies and might find something to like about the movie.
I've criticised all that's wrong with Feardotcom, which amounts to most of it to be fair but fans of the macabre amongst you will find some enjoyment from the twisted imagery you have thrown up before you. Feardotcom is a dire movie for the general cinema-goer who will be expecting a plot, will be expecting it to add up, will be expecting far less logical holes and contrivances, will be expecting dialogue which isn't so lame and will be shocked by gratuitous scenes of torture and murder depicted on the website(truth be told it's more hinted at than seen but ain't that always worse?). On the other hand, the rest of you will no doubt revel in the kind of imagery other horror movies promise and never serve up. It always amazes me the number of people who go to watch horror movies, find they aren't shocked, scared or repulsed but then complain again when one comes along which actually is repulsive, gory and all the rest of it! Feardotcom actually delivers on its promises which oddly seems to be one of the major complaints about the movie. Apparently it's sick and nasty but erm, what do you expect from a horror film? Maybe it's because the whole genre has been hijacked by teen screamers and the numerous slasher movies we've been miserable assaulted with since Scream inexplicably revived the
m that no one expects anything other than pantomime gore and cats jumping out of cupboards? Who knows.
Visually, Feardotcom is one of the most impressive movies, particularly in this genre, that I've seen for a long time and if you allow yourself to be drawn in, it's also very creepy indeed...and in some ways very clever despite the chaotic screenplay. Feardotcom crafts its own nightmarish reality(kinda like David Fincher gets applauded for but no one else is allowed to do without a slating :oP), with a US city turned into a damp, brooding mass of seething decay and perpetual rain and darkness which fades into monochrome as the movie progresses. The encounters with the website give you searing millisecond flashes of squirming victims awaiting a living autopsy, wickedly sharp blades, darkened doorways, mutilated faces and sickly grey flesh with a temptress voice inviting you to delve deeper before showing you the voyeur's horrified reaction as a fatal dose of negative energy is transferred and the (off-screen) images intensify in horror. It is super effective without showing too much.
Whatever your feelings on the movie, it is also conceptually ingenious(the execution is debatable but worked for me) in the way the website is shown to expand its focus as the movie progresses to blend with perceived reality as our protagonists fall under its 'curse' and slip into an unreality populated by their own fears which will eventually kill them. Towards the final 20 minutes you'll start to notice something very subtle has been happening throughout the movie since out investigators visited the site themselves. The city is becoming the website for those who have seen its contents. The visuals always tended towards being bleak and washed out yet now it is becoming progressively more obvious as the macabre and bizarre become part of 'real' life for them and the site extends its focus to encompass all around wreathing everything in
a mask of decay. The closing sequences themselves are pure genius visually, flawed in concept of course because nothing adds up in the slightest but it looks great and as nightmares crafted in reality go, this is one of the best recent depictions I've seen.
On a platform of visual delight alone this movie kept me 'entertained'(for want of a better word ) from start to finish in spite of the horrendous short-comings elsewhere which let it down really badly. Generally, all the criticism this movie has received is well deserved but I do think many who criticised did so with any regard for the places the movie does excel in. Maybe this kind of thing is only acceptable when it is done extremely badly to the point where it becomes laughable as most horror movies are but not when it actually does horrify and repulse the viewer? It's certainly not a movie which will appeal to most, definitely deserves the 18 certificate it will surely get if it ever appears on these shores and probably deserves a 'guilty pleasure' tag for anyone who is more interested in submerging themselves in a freaky atmosphere and nightmarish visuals from the director who, to a lesser extent, brought you more of the same in the remake of The House On Haunted Hill.
I liked it, fans of macabre horror movies will find much to like amongst the things to hate as well but everyone else is well advised to give it a miss. I think that sums up its appeal.