Fear Dot Com (2002)
Director: William Malone
A morbid website is having some plasma-inducing effects on Net users. It’s up to leather jacket cop (Dorff) and an oddball health research specialist (McElhone) to crack the case. Oh, I almost forgot, the gruesome happenings are also somehow linked to a serial killer in hiding getting his rocks off by babbling a female victim to death. Should you log on?
What happened? Is this a joke? Where’s the webcam? Am I on the Net being put on like a goat in heat? Now I did find it odd that my screening of Feardotcom was at 10:00 PM the day before it opened (this is the first time I’ve ever had to go to such a late screening), but it never dawned on me that it was due to the film being a lousy lay! Having enjoyed "The House on the Haunted Hill", I expected the same kind of thrills and spills in this Malone follow up. I was DOA wrong.
Feardotcom does possess some of the elements necessary to deliver a groovy horror movie: we get dread filled, rainy atmosphere (think Fincher), some stylish horror imagery, a very haunting website within the movie and a good initial concept. But one crucial element is missing here, one that can make or break a movie like a bread stick and that’s a coherent/engaging storyline. Now I don’t know how severely this one was tortured in the editing room, but my hunch says that they bled it to death like a slurpee on a hot summer day!
We’ll start with the characters who are so underdeveloped that they're not characters...they’re puppets. I didn’t get to warm up to anybody in this funhouse and their relationships were so badly handled that they actually damaged my brain cells. Then there’s the narrative that not only relies on ludicrous plot turns to move the going-ons further, but that also made me ask lots of script questions like: Why bother hinting at a love thang if you’re not gonna go with it? Why have Jeffrey Combs in the flick if his character is pointless to the storyline? Why does one of the leads disappear for such a lengthy block of time? Why does the big bad killer keep yapping constantly about I don’t care what? What’s with the ghost chick killing innocent people to attain justice? And that’s just the tip of the keyboard.
To make matters more grating, the film showcases a redundant first block (we get it, their eyes bleed when they see the site), no tension whatsoever; a nasty habit of revealing important information way too fast and one silly monkey ending. Tag to that, our two “heroes” being the worst investigators, their knack at doing all the dumbest ass moves (yeah, check the site out...GREAT IDEA!), crappy dialogue sticking on the walls and a useless last frame and you get a Feardotwasteofhorrorspace. Now yes, there is some striking horror imagery here and I appreciated its creative streak, so if you relished some of the visuals in "The House on a Haunted Hill", you’ll find some of the same candy here. Unfortunately, it never got under my skin once. You can slap all the creepy little girls and rubber balls in the world my way but they won’t do shit to me without one character to root for or a storyline that faintly grips me. I’ve seen Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson music videos scarier and more layered than this vacuous patch job. SHUT THIS SITE DOWN!
Where’s the red purée? I be hungry!!!! I didn’t get much out of this one except bloodied eyes, cockroaches, very quick glimpses of gory images and an after the fact slit throat. Disappointing.
Stephen Dorff (Mike) plays Stephen Dorff. It’s not his fault, there’s no part! Natasha McElhone (Terry) is often off in her delivery but it’s not her fault either, the dialogue blows. Stephen Rea (Alistair) did what he could with the crappy part…he bored me with class. Jeffrey Combs (Sykes) plays an a-hole, nothing more, and nothing less.
T & A
We get 3 tit shots from the same chick and some random loosely dressed gals. Dorff keeps his “Fruit of the Looms” on, sorry ladies.
Malone has a sharp “horror eye”, there’s no denying that. He fills the screen with crazy angles, stretched lenses, colorful filters and efficient camera tricks galore. Too bad all the coating in the world couldn’t liven this dead bitch up. Can somebody give this guy a great script and full creative control on the post production??? I’m sure he would kick all kinds of genre ass!
We get a mucho eerie score and was that another kickass Ramstein song I heard? You bet it was!
Distributor: Warner Home Video
IMAGE: The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen image is impeccable on every level. What a great transfer for a poor movie.
SOUND: The Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound ( English and French) is like the image of the disk, flawless. We get lots of attention to the subtle sound effects that are delivered clearly, giving the film that extra eerie dimension. We also get English, French and Spanish subtitles.
Commentary Track by Director William Malone and Director of Photography Christian Sebaldt): I like William Malone, he's a true horror fan and even though I thought the film failed, it was still interesting to hear him talk about the production, the ambitions behind the film, the actors and the trivia in regards to the shoot. This was an engaging commentary that made watching the film worthwhile as I listened. Christian Sebaldt's two cents were also kool from a technical point of view.
FearDotCom: Visions of Fear (~ 5 minutes): This behind the scenes look is one of those extended ads for the film with cast and crew coming in to talk about the film while clips from the picture are slapped our way. Harmless.
"The Mushroom Factory" Deleted Scene (~ 5 minutes): William Malone introduces this deleted scene with an explanation about its cut. The scene itself is about a dude getting killed in a Mushroom Factory. There's nothing novel here and the sequence echoed other scenes from the film. I can see why it was snipped out. My questions is..."why a Mushroom Factory"? Mmmm...
We also get Cast and Crew info, a Photo Gallery (with storyboard, drawings and stills), and the Theatrical Trailer for the film.
Before I saw the film, I remember talking to a Warner Brothers rep about it and she got me all hyped up. Needless to say once I saw it, I was let down. I had hoped that the DVD would sport the Director's Cut and deleted gore scenes, but alas, it's the same cut that played in the theatres and no extra gore was found. If you dug the film, the DVD should please you, its high quality and the extras are decent. If you didn't care for the movie, don't bother with the DVD, it brings nothing new to the game.
You’ll find elements of “Ring”, “Seven” and “Hellraiser Inferno” here, but Feardotcom never manages to pull them together to serve up a satisfying horror dish. The narrative is muddled, the characters un-involving, the gore minimal and the suspense criminally lacking. If a couple of titties, some polished horrific images and Stephen Dorff’s beard are all you need to have a swell time in your seat, be my guest and shell out the bucks. I'll stick to http://www.joblo.com/arrow/mistress.htm for my freaking entertainment. YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Horror legend Udo Kier has a brief cameo here.
The flick was shot in Luxembourg and in my hometown of Montreal.