Feardotcom (2002)

(On DVD, May 2004) There’s a good reason why critics savaged this film when it first came out: It’s just not very good. Whatever visual polish the film may possess is bludgeoned into impotence through endless dark and damp cinematography. No point for variety here; the whole film quickly becomes annoying. While Feardotcom wants to explore the dark side of the Internet, it ends up feeling silly and forced; as the bizarre deaths pile up, one gets the impression that nothing will be explained. As it turns out, this is the correct impression: the conclusion devolves into silly serial murderer stuff, complete with a throwaway line about how the ghostly energy of mumbo-jumbo can leak (or leap, or squeak) from the Internet into the real world. Don’t gag me; I’m already doing that. Stephen Dorff and Natascha McElhone do their best with the material, but it’s a hopeless situation: McElhone is miscast (she’s better in more aloof roles) and Dorff is ineffective at giving life to the lame dialogue. The film descends so firmly into dull disinterest that I switched midway through my first viewing to the director’s audio commentary. Director William Malone seems well-intentioned, but Feardotcom can’t be salvaged with good intentions.

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