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MOVIE REVIEW - FearDotCom (2002) starring Stephen Dorff

Al Holst, Owner of TV ACRESThe only thing that you need to fear from the movie FearDotCom (2002) is loosing the money it will cost you to gain admission to the theatre.

This serial killer horror flick follows the demented trail of a sadomasochistic ex-physician who not only likes to torture young women, but likes to do so "live" on the internet.

Hot on the case is NYPD detective Mike Reilly (Stephen Dorff) who joins forces with Terry Houston (Natascha McElhone), a Department of Health medical examiner to solve the string of four murders whose victims apparently killed themselves by choosing methods that reflected their deepest, darkest fears. Each of the victim's bodies oozed blood from their eyes and displayed faces frozen in utter horror. 

With the help of Denise, a friendly forensic computer specialist, Mike and Terry discover a common thread in all the murders -- a website called "FearDotCom." When they log onto FearDotCom, an image of a beautiful woman asks "Do you want to hurt me?"

The visitor to the site is given two option buttons to click: "YES" or "NO" If you choose "NO" you are called a liar and prompted to enter "YES."  

Against his better judgment, Reilly enters FearDotCom and soon becomes its next potential victim. With only the website as a clue to solving the murders and saving Mike's life, Terry logs on.

Within the website, she encounters a female avatar who challenges her to find the dead body of one of the women who was tortured by Alistair Pratt (Stephen Rea), a serial killer known to Reilly as "The Doctor."

After Terry recovers the body, Reilly tracks the Doctor down to his lair but gets shot in the chest. Just before dying, Reilly types "" on a nearby keyboard.

As the website opens, the Doctor is blasted by a surge of white light and sucked into an alternate reality where he confronts hellish images and the internet ghosts of all his female victims. They quickly inform the Doctor "Time to die."

Now as stories go, this movie is not the most exciting. It does contain all the clichés of the horror genre like having all the actors knowing full well that they shouldn't enter the website but they do it anyway.

But the most disappointing thing about this film is the voyeuristic journey that the filmmakers expects the movie viewer to take. By showing detailed scenes of torture, and bound, naked, gagged women, the filmmaker revolts the viewers and forces them to close their eyes and hope that it will all just go away. Not in the typical horror movie averting of the eyes, but a truly shameful aversion from something inhuman and degrading.

So, do you want to see this film? Well, then maybe I should prompt you like the FearDotCom website. "Do you want to hurt your Psyche by letting the film's grisly scenes of murder and torture fill your mind?" If so, Click "YES" or "NO."

-- Jerome A. Holst (August 25, 2002)

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