Feardotcom(.com) is a website run by serial killer Alistair (Stephen Rea), who believes that “Reducing relationships to anonymous electronic impulses is a perversion.” His solution: kidnap young women and film himself torturing them until they beg to die, thus creating “intimacy with death.” Protagonist Mike (Stephen Dorff) is the detective who’s been hunting him for years. He meets Department of Health worker Terry (Natascha McElhone) while they’re both studying a series of bloody-eyed corpses. Turns out the fear site has been taken over by Jeannie (Gesine Cukrowski), the vengeful ghost of a victim, and she’s killing everyone who looks at it within 48 hours. Mike and Terry are left with one option: to enter the site themselves.
The more I watch Feardotcom, the more I appreciate the direction and cinematography (the film noir vibe is as puzzling as it is gorgeous) and the more I hate everything else, from the thinly veiled European accents of all the main actors but Dorff and Jeffrey Combs
(the movie was shot in Canada and Luxembourg, with actors from England, Germany, Ireland, and Sweden—thank you IMDB) to the waves of plot holes. Here’s a mere fraction of them: everyone who looks at the site dies of his or her worst fear—sorta. One girl was afraid of drowning, so she dies in a bathtub full of water. (How Terry comes across this bit of information about the girl’s phobia is uncertain, since the girl is a German exchange student—did Terry call her German friends and relatives and pump them for information on every single aspect of the girl’s life?) The woman who’s afraid of insects sees a horde of them—and jumps out a window. Was the car she crash-lands on made of bugs? Jeannie kills everyone who looks at the site—which, according to Alistair’s hit counter, is in the tens of thousands; she’s gonna have a hell of a time getting to all those people within 48 hours. We find out through Jeannie’s (American-accented) mother that Jeannie (German-accented—huh?) was a hemophiliac who could bleed to death from a scratch in an hour without her medication, and thus was “scared to death of anything sharp.”
But her favorite place to play as a child was an abandoned steel mill. (Scientifically speaking, it’s also largely unheard of for a female hemophiliac to live past her first menstrual cycle.) We find out Jeannie was cut and tortured by Alistair for two days (hence her victims’ time limit)—did Alistair give her hemophilia medication or what? And don’t get me started on how she was able to somehow get loose from her restraints, write a note on a piece of paper, put it in her lipstick tube, and swallow it. Aside from all that, the acting is decent (besides the previously mentioned fake American accents, which sound about as natural as Jeannie’s blond hair and black eyebrows look), the score by Nicholas Pike is lovely, and there are some creepy moments. There’s an interesting theme behind the plot—it’s just poorly executed. I have to admit I saw it in the theatre twice, as it had kickstarted an epic crush on Stephen Rea. For some reason.
It’s worth at least one viewing; don’t blame William Malone for the script—he just directed.