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movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: FearDotCom

Starring: Stephen Dorff, Natascha McElhone
Director: William Malone
Rated: R
RunTime: 98 Minutes
Release Date: August 2002
Genres: Horror, Suspense

*Also starring: Stephen Rea, Udo Kier, Amelia Shankley, Jeffrey Combs, Nigel Terry

Review by Steve Rhodes
1 star out of 4

William Malone, who last brought us the pathetic HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, a remake of an already bad movie, tries out a new story in FEARDOTCOM, which is almost as trashy as his last picture. How he manages to attract reasonably good B-list actors to his projects remains a mystery. I will, however, go out on a limb about FEARDOTCOM and disagree with what many others have said about it. It isn't quite one of the worst movies of the year. It's just merely very bad.

A cautionary tale about the hazards of surfing to the wrong web site -- in this case one with a "live death cam" -- it is a by-the-numbers horror picture, featuring cockroaches, blood, thunder, little girl ghosts and old dial phones. Malone seems to think that all he needs to do in order to create fear is to turn down the brightness knob on the camera and turn up the grain. The result, however, is more ugly and indecipherable than it is frightening.

The confusing story involves a web site than causes red eye. Forty-eight hours after visiting it, the viewers' eyes start bleeding, and they die with something like Ebola virus symptoms. Stephen Dorff (BLADE) plays Mike Reilly, the detective investigating the deaths, and Natascha McElhone (RONIN) plays Terry Houston, a health department inspector who is working with him on the case. Stephen Rea, from THE CRYING GAME, is Alistair Pratt, the story's villain.

As you wait for the ending credits to put you out of your misery, you can enjoy the cheesy and unintentionally funny dialog. "So, do you like working with bugs and viruses?" Detective Reilly asks Inspector Houston. "Someone's got to do it," she replies with sincerity. Perhaps the best/worst line of the picture comes as Pratt tortures one of his victims before killing her. "I'd like to say, 'I can feel your pain,' but I can't," he tells her. I wonder if the director has any sense of the pain he inflicts on the viewers who either have to endure his films or waste their money by walking out on them.

FEARDOTCOM runs a long 1:38. It is rated R for "violence including grisly images of torture, nudity and language" and would be acceptable for older teenagers.

Copyright 2002 Steve Rhodes

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