20 years ago, Hollywood’s first internet thriller launched a terrifying new genre | Panda Anku

Maybe the first sign the move would not become a believable cyber-horror centered around its central snuff-based website. The true owners of now-defunct Fear.com reportedly refused to give up their domain name no matter how much money the producers threw their way, meaning the film’s depraved souls could only watch, like a mad doctor boy Women slowly tortured in an industrial camp Login to feardotcom.com.

The infamous flop, released on August 30, 2022, wasn’t the first scare-fest to explore the darker side of the internet. just a year ago, pulse helped expand the J-horror scene’s conquest of America with the story of malevolent spirits infiltrating the internet. Hollywood had previously offered several cautionary tales ranging from the madness of virtual reality The Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace to the slightly more grounded paranoia of The network. As a precursor to the subgenre that became known as torture porn, FeardotCom was a different animal.

Possibly burned by the toothless allegations leveled at him House on Haunted Hill Remake, director William Malone intended to make the entire film feel like a nightmare, saying, “I wanted it to be like waking up in the middle of the night and thinking you’re awake, but actually you always are.” still dreaming.” Maybe that’s why FeardotCom seems allergic to any form of lighting – and why it’s dominated by the kind of flashing imagery you’d expect from a Marilyn Manson video. Unfortunately, as with most bad dreams, the film defies logic.

FeardotCom starts promising enough. A desperate man (Udo Kier) begins seeing visions of a creepy young girl on a subway before being fatally struck by a train. Like the victims in The ring, his last expression is shockingly wide and open-jawed. But as brooding detective Mike Reilly (Stephen Dorff) and low-key Department of Health researcher Terry Huston (Natascha McElhone) will discover, a voyeuristic website rather than a cursed videotape is to blame.

Malone initially manages to build the suspense effectively while several other dissenters learn that curiosity can really kill the cat. Eerie camcorder footage shows a German couple sinking into eye-bleeding madness. There is an effective reference to Stephen King Christine when Terry’s boss is killed by an obstinate car.

The scariest thing about the movie. Warner Bros.

However, the explanation for these gruesome murders is essentially repressive FeardotCom‘s unique selling proposition to an afterthought. Each victim had previously visited a website run by Alistair Pratt (Stephen Rea), a failed doctor who spends his days slicing and dicing women in the name of entertainment. As Don’t f*** with cats proven, the concept of a murderer spreading his depravity online remains chilling. But Pratt’s motives are sidelined by a metaphysical mumbo-jumbo about a vengeful ghost. Rea’s screen time barely adds up to five minutes.

It turns out the subway kid was a hemophiliac who was mutilated by Pratt over a 48-hour period for all of the net’s most perverted souls to see. Anyone who types in the ridiculous URL will now be killed by their worst fear just two days later, whether they’re an anonymous sadist or, as in the case of poor cockroach-phobic forensic scientist Denise Stone (Amelia Curtis), just researching the on-duty location.

Natascha McElhone and Stephen Dorff look horrified, possibly at the film’s script.Warner Bros.

FeardotCom, so can’t really make out whether it’s supposed to be an outlandish supernatural fable, a dark tech-noir or a cynical gorefest. It ultimately fails because of being one of them. The ghost’s motives become muddled, the web aspect is underutilized, and much of the gruesome violence is left to the imagination. One gets the feeling that the impressive cast has been wondering what they signed up for too.

Dorff, who has essentially admitted his disappointment with the film, is practically sleepwalking through the investigation. Described as a miscast by Malone, McElhone also responds to the terror sweeping New York with the same urgency as a dial-up modem. The chemistry between Mike and Terry is so off-putting that it’s easy to get to the end of the 101-minute slog without realizing they were meant to be love interests.

Then there’s Oscar-nominated Rea, who looks like he’d rather be scrutinized than spout pretentious dialogue like “Reducing relationships to anonymous electronic impulses is a perversion.” More interested in talking than showing, his Hannibal Lecter-Lite character commits the ultimate mortal sin when it comes to boogeymen: he’s boring as Ditchwater.

Stephen Rea in Beetroot Shadow Maniacal mode. Warner Bros.

FeardotComs Critical abuse — it was only the seventh film to earn CinemaScore’s dreaded F rating — and failure to recoup even half of its $40 million budget seemed to deter Tinseltown from similar tariffs. They had to wait until 2005’s revenge movie, which turns the tables Hard Candy for another lesson on the dangers of the internet.

Since then we’ve had the slightly hypocritical condemnation of torture porn Undetectabledated arrival chat room, and an entire cottage industry of horrors that played out solely on social media screens, with varying degrees of success. However, this ugly, contradictory mess remains the subgenre’s biggest bandwidth waste.

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