FearDotCom [2002]

Fear Dot Com is a total-dot-mess, but it's a stylishly graphic frightfest that horror buffs will probably appreciate. As he did with his 1999 remake of House on Haunted Hill, director William Malone favors trippy atmosphere at the expense of acting, character development, and plot. Belatedly jumping on the Internet-thriller bandwagon, the film follows a brooding detective (Stephen Dorff) and a public health inspector (Natascha McElhone) as they investigate the deadly influence of the titular Web site, which channels the innermost fears of its visitors until they die of fright 48 hours later. Why 48 hours? Don't ask; Josephine Coyle's screenplay is as incoherent as Malone's grasp of narrative momentum, leaving Dorff and McElhone with little to do but look frightened and doomed. But Fear Dot Com has its moments, especially after mad doctor Stephen Rea's gruesome villainy is fully revealed, and the proceedings take on the monochrome pallor of silent German expressionism. Too bad these fantastic visuals weren't servicing a better movie. --Jeff Shannon

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