ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 5, 2002
I figured feardotcom was gonna be bad news when I saw the TV trailer and noticed it was promoted with the line “From the director of House on Haunted Hill”, as if that was anything to be proud of. William Malone’s special-effects–heavy 1999 remake of William Castle’s tacky 1958 horror flick had no redeeming value whatsoever, being a lame excuse for seeing stupid folks get murdered in gory ways while flashy visuals divert your attention from the idiotic goings-on.
The Luxembourg-shot feardotcom does a commendable job of imitating that lamebrained routine.
Stephen Dorff stars as young New York City homicide detective Mike Reilly, whose experience includes a run-in with the “Doctor”, a sadistic psycho who tortures and kills women live on the Internet. When a bunch of bloody-eyed bodies start turning up all over the Big Apple, he gets the inkling that the Doctor (The Crying Game’s exhausted-looking Stephen Rea) is “in” again. Reilly discovers that the Doc’s snuff site is back up and that anyone who logs on endures frightful visions and dies 48 hours later—but not before suffering a bloody nose.
Naturally, the cocksure cop follows in the footsteps of dead German art students and dead Internet-book coauthors by visiting the site, which causes his computer to crap out and leads him to have some really freaky hallucinations. He pleads with his partner on the case, a health-department researcher named Terry (Ronin’s Natascha McElhone), not to visit the site, so, naturally, she does, and we get to see her dabbing at her schnoz as well.
That’s about it for excitement.
Die-hard horror fans may get a slight kick out of seeing weirdo Eurotrash icon Udo Kier get smucked by a subway in the opening scene, and they’ll surely recognize Re-Animator’s Jeffrey Combs as the stereotypically slow cop who winds up as one of the Doc’s eternal outpatients. Whoa, hold on…
As I’m writing this at 12:47 a.m. on Friday, the biggest goddamned wolf spider I’ve ever seen in my life just scrabbled into the room from the dingy garage-door area and squeezed behind a bookcase, its three-inch legs still poking out. To me, that’s a hundred times scarier than any of the twisted high-tech shit in feardotcom.
I think I’ll go upstairs now.