REVIEW: feardotcom (William Malone, 2002)

In 1999's terrifyingly awesome remake of William Castle's House on Haunted Hill, William Malone briefly explored the idea of ghosts using the world wide web's energy. In that specific case, the ghosts infiltrated a wealthy man's e-mail account to invite some guests of their own to a doomed party. Here, the ghost in question actually has its own website and haunts the subscribers. Yep! Let's continue, shall we?

I've finally given up rewatching feardotcom and hoping to discover an under-sung masterpiece that I for some reason may have missed in the past. As a whole, it falls very flat despite the tricks Malone perfected in the aforementioned Haunted Hill remake that are often at work. If taken in piecemeal, the bits of celluloid on their own work in a sort of installation type fashion. One thing's for sure, Malone really has an eye for horrific imagery and an ear for great sound usage... his storytelling just seems to be off, even when the script is somewhat above par.

Another way by which this one fails to live up to the expectations set by Haunted Hill is the lack of eccentric characters that fit so well into Malone's twisted cinematic environments. The always watchable Stephen Dorff does what he can within his boring character's limitations. He seems to play the lead until the wide-eyed, questionably-intentioned Natascha McElhone's seemingly random step to center stage. Meanwhile, Stephen Rea does his Stephen Rea thing in a pre-torture-porn-craze sadistic doctor role, and often begs for the grammar police to lock him up. We also have Udo Kier to open the film with a very brief, hey-look-it's-Udo-Kier scene.

This film may be the true test of a horror buff. It takes J-Horror and converts it into an Americanized Giallo. Sure, the result may not be fantastic but there's a lot to be appreciated. The real centerpieces here are the atmosphere and the Chris Cunningham-esque imagery so if you go in looking for that, you may come out with a grin.

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