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Face-Off: Ghost in the Machine Vs. FeardotCom

04.15.2015by: Mike Catalano
We had a pretty even amount of supporters for the two films in our last Face-Off. While some agreed that the entertainment value was high with the winner, Teeth, many still were proud of Ellen Page's strong performance that anchored Hard Candy. This basically proves my theory that both flicks are very well-made additions to our beloved genre.

For today's Face-Off, we are taking a cue from the online horror flick Unfriended, which logs onto multiplexes this Friday. Did you know that this isn't the first time the internet has taken a trip to horror town? Yup, the world wide web has been the source of scares since way back to 1993 before this whole 'net thing was huge. So be wary of your wifi and be sure to clear your browser history as we put Ghost in the Machine up against FeardotCom!

Online Savvy
Even though GITM came out close to the dawn of the internet, it still features a pretty vast display of technology. Computers still controlled a great deal of things back in 1993 like cash machines, car safety tests, pool covers, etc. There is a big world of electronic data for the killer to access, including a neat virtual reality video game that allows him to stalk a potential victim's kid.
The internet was booming a bit more by the time FeardotCom got online. Hence, we got a website with the capability of interacting with users as well as stream video content. However, the tech savviness is taken a step further when viewers of the website become "infected" by the online content and literally haunted by what it displays!
Male & Female Heroes
The main male and female heroes in the flick are Karen Allen and her son, played by Wil Horneff. The kid is a tad on the annoying side, like most preteens his age, but he does have some wits about him and is able to utilize his computer knowledge to help combat the killer. And the always awesome Miss Allen is great, bringing a perfect balance of smarts, humor, and protective instinct to her mother character.
Bad ass cop, Stephen Dorff, and cute health investigator, Natascha McElhone, make a nice contrasting couple/team. Dorff projects his cool tough guy act while doing whatever he can to solve the crimes seemingly committed through the website. McElhone, and her sexy accent, do a nice, honorable job trying to find a logical solution to the strangely supernatural murders.
Suspense
With a killer that is virtually invisible and conceivably everywhere, the flick easily ups its suspense in scenes that would otherwise seem normal. Once a potential victim is identified, we get a "Final Destination" sense of scary in wondering how the death will be dealt. This is nicely exemplified during both the crash test and virtual reality game sequences.
Through the help of some fast editing and gnarly special effects, the flick does live up to the first four letters in its title. The image on the poster is pretty damn scary in its own right, but just wait till it starts popping up when you least expect it during the movie. Yes, there are some fast ghostly flashes happening that will probably make you jump a couple of times.
Gore
Because of the open possibilities for the "internet killer" to go after people, we get some pretty nasty death sequences. Hell, even before he "goes viral" we are treated to some brief bloody shots of the last family he took out with an array of sharp objects. However, the best stuff occurs once he is viral which includes a fast fiery death by a hand dryer and an icky microwaving incident.
With torture being a main theme of the story, you can rest assured that blood is spilled. Those who witness the site are soon bleeding out of their mouths and eyes like some sort of virus. Faces are cut up and distorted in a very nasty manner. And bodies are cut open allowing all sorts of yucky grue to spill out.
Killer
Karl Hochman is definitely one f*cked-up serial killer. Garnering the nickname, "The Address Book Killer", he steals people's address books and then, you guessed it, offs everyone listed. And if you think he's a mean bastard while alive, wait till he dies and his soul gets sucked into the information super highway! No one is safe as he finds ways of offing everyone through modern electrical science.
Stephen Rea's "Alistair" is definitely super odd and creepy in his own right. He speaks in this nerdy-but-god-like tone that I'm sure would make any close listener uneasy. And he's got a f*cked up freakin way that he goes about offing his victims. He binds them up half naked and cuts away with a scalpel, performing a sick kind of surgery.
Ghost in the Machine
Damn, that race was net and net! Awful joke, but great battle! And when the bits of data cleared, Ghost in the Machine spooked its way to the top! Since these two flicks came out such a long while ago, I'm interested to hear your thoughts on them. Whether it's love or hate, take full advantage of what this thing called the Internet has to offer and blast them bullets below! And feel free to send any future Face-Off ideas to me at mikecatalano@joblo.com

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