Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mini-Review: The Wisdom of Fear Dot Com

Did I say wisdom? I meant facepalm inducing idiocy. Enjoy these notes I scribbled while "drinking until the movie gets good."

- If nobody bothered to study diseases and come up with cures, illness would just run wild. No shit.

- Having your police station as creepily lit as possible saves energy and helps reduce global warming.

- Seriously? Characters are going to talk about the weather in this movie? Did the screenwriter not even bother to google "screenwriting tips"? Did he think that the audience wouldn't understand why it was raining in the next scene if we didn't set it up with dialog?

- Ha! Your bouncy ball and palette swap can't fool me, little girl from The Ring.

- What sort of crazy-ass German exchange students record video of themselves surfing the internet, and why do they have the camera positioned so that we cannot see the screen? Were they making a 2 Girls 1 Cup reaction video?

- Wait. So is the site evil, or just run by a serial killer?

- So it's two different sites? It would be less confusing if everyone stopped interchangeably referring to both as "the fear site."

- When a creepy dude offers you an audition and the location turns out to be an ultra creepy abandoned warehouse, don't go looking for him inside. Otherwise, you might as well have "serial murder victim #X" tattooed on your head.

- Is the creepy, round, art deco haunted house room supposed to be the computer lady's apartment or office?

- Hemophiliac children should be allowed to romp around the abandoned steel mill down the street. Smart parenting.

- Okay, so the site was created by the ghost of one of the internet serial killer's victims, and it is killing everyone who sees it with a 48 hour window of creepiness until someone appeases it by taking out the serial killer. Do I have that right? Doesn't seem like the most efficient revenge scheme, but when you are a haunted website, you probably have nothing but time on your hands.

- I'm impressed that (that is one "dot com" too many) is still operational. The Warner Brothers ads and prompt to download flash sort of suck the fun out of it.
Ahhhh, my eyes!!!!!!

- Also, did anyone who worked on this movie have even the faintest idea of how the internet works? What the hell is this browser everyone is using with creepy fonts and the "hotbox" in which they type in URLs and chat with the evil website ghosts. Let's try this out: ask me a question by typing it into your location bar.

Wha!?!?! So is your momma, you sick son of a bitch!

Huh, it works. I would have thought you'd land on a 404 page, or at least get redirected to a bunch of stupid ads.

- I am shocked to learn that this movie was made after the millennium. This is sub The Net understanding of, um, the net.

- How did Jeffrey Combs make it to the serial killer's hideout before everyone else? They just called him and he's already been murdered, hung up on the wall, and forgotten about.

- Stephen Dorff can survive for a surprisingly long time after being shot at medium range in his exact center of mass.

-Ebert recommends turning the sound off:
If the final 20 minutes had been produced by a German impressionist in the 1920s, we'd be calling it a masterpiece," he says.

-Ebert lies. The idea that the climax could work out of context as some sort of experimental film was what tricked me into watching this fetid garbage. Yeah it gets a little whacked out as the ghost finally takes revenge on Stephen Rea, but I've seen better. Hardware for instance, or any number of music videos, or anything and everything by the Quay Brothers.

Wow. Fear Dot Com is so mind bogglingly derivative that it can't even keep the films it is ripping off straight. One moment it is an overly production designed Se7en wannabe, and the next it is shamelessly mining the depths of J-Horror cliché hell. To top things off, the serial killer subplot absolutely reeks of Silence of the Lambs.

Also, nothing at all that happens makes anything even remotely similar to "sense." Let's start with the haunted website. In Ringu, the little dead psychic/magic girl burns her evil images into the magnetic tape of a VHS cassette, which is an analog format. In Pulse, the evil spirits have saturated the entire power-grid and network infrastructure, so they can attack the end user directly from his computer. Sure these examples are fraught with holes in their logic, but they at least have faint wisps of plausibility. The existence of within the movie only raises endless questions that the film isn't even remotely interested in addressing.

-Did the ghost have to register its domain with GoDaddy?
-Where is the site hosted?
-Who'd it get to do the flash animation?
-How does the ghost market the site?
-Does the site work with different browsers? Would I be safe using Opera?
-What does the html source code look like?
-What happens to Google when it crawls the page?

Once the site targets you, you spend the next 48 hours being haunted by the ghost's little girl form (why would someone who died as an adult haunt people as a child? I guess it's creepier that way) before being killed by your greatest fear. The audience knows this because a character flat out explains it. How she came to this conclusion is a mystery; with the exception of the girl who dies via cock-a-roaches and a clumsy reference to another character's fear of car crashes, the deaths lack stylization. I guess the German exchange students greatest fears were drowning in the bath and mysteriously dropping dead for no reason, while Udo Kier must have been terrified of getting hit by a subway train. (If that was the case, why the heck did he climb down onto the tracks in the first place?)Do you want to know why the site kills you with your greatest fear*? Of course you do. It's also woodenly explained, despite there not being any real way for the characters to have deduced it. Apparently the ghost (in her pre-death days) was a hemophiliac and thus had an intense fear of knives, which are the torture implement of choice for web-cam owning serial murderers. This raises the question: how did the killer manage to torture her if any minor cut could cause her to bleed out? That sounds like an annoying day for any psycho-killer. Qu'est-ce que c'est?

Also, who swims for several meters through the flooded basement of an abandoned steel mill just because some hobo told them to? I think that might be my greatest fear, and no one who has the cojones to do that in order to drag a rotting corpse back to civilization should ever get "paralyzed with fear" as horror heroines are want to do when confronted with serial killers and computer ghosts.

If I didn't know better, I would swear that this movie was specifically made for people to get drunk and play MST3K with. Stephen Rea's creepily affectless monologues as seen through dirty CRT monitors are totally sweet, but everything else in the film seems tailor made for wisecracks at its expense. It's almost too easy.

*Greatest fear not available in all deaths. See your evil computer specter for details.


  1. Hey! if I go to the page am i then dead??

  2. As long as you don't have Flash installed you will probably be fine... unless you have some lethal allergies to Warner Brothers ads.

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