There are bad movies, there are horrible movies, and then there is FearDotCom. FearDotCom is probably the worst movie of the year thus far, a dubious distinction given some of the other junk studios released. Most of the truly atrocious ones were horror movies, as is this one. It is horror only in name, because there is nothing inherently scary about the film. What does abound is grotesque imagery, most of it sado-masochistic in nature. It flashes across the screen accompanied by loud noises and bright flashes of light, most likely to keep viewers awake. There is a plot somewhere here, but it is so incoherent and so dull that there is no point in trying to follow along.

Here's how it goes: there is a web site called feardotcom (well, actually it would be feardotcom.com but that's beside the point). People who log onto it die 48 hours later, usually by their worst fear. Just think, anybody whose worst fear is bad movies should stay away from this one. There is another site, run by a man known as The Doctor (Stephen Rea, The Musketeer, The End of the Affair). He murders people live on the Internet. His rival is policeman Mike Reilly (Stephen Dorff, Deuce's Wild, Zoolander), who has never been able to catch the Doctor. The Doctor is active again, although there is no reason for anybody to suspect so given the information in the movie. The murder of a German girl brings Reilly in contact with Terry Houston (Natascha McElhone, Love's Labour's Lost, Contagion), who works for the DOH. They begin investigating the deaths of people who died of massive blood loss, similar to the symptoms of the Ebola virus. They deduce (somewhat flimsily) that the feardotcom site is causing the deaths. Both force the other to promise they will not visit the site, and of course, both visit the site.

The two threads do come together in the end, but in an artificial manner. It makes no sense why the people are dying two day after visiting the site, especially given what screenwriters Moshe Diamant (Simon Sez, Midnight Man) and Josephine Coyle (Ballad of the Nightingale) reveal at the end. But nothing makes sense in this film, so it's never really an issue. One big reason this film even exists is that Diamant is also the producer. Hmmm.....Reilly and Houston wander around trying to solve the murders while the Doctor tortures his patients. The only thing that works is the atmosphere, and probably because director William Malone (House on Haunted Hill, Creature) keeps the lights so dim. Maybe he was trying to save money, but this is one of the darkest films in recent memory. It is difficult to see anything at all, so when Malone flashes his dark imagery across the screen, it does have an effect.

Now, only if the actors were able to see it. The three principals look extremely bored for nearly all of the movie. Dorff is the only person who escapes relatively unscathed, because he is nowhere near as bad as Rea and McElhone. Rea is probably the best actor in the bunch, and fares by far the worst. His acting style comes across as slightly retarded. Malone has him taunt his victims by asking them questions, so the proceedings come across like a demented talk show. McElhone's character drops to nothing in the second half of the film. The bulk of her lines are the refrain "Oh my God!" Maybe she is thinking about where her career will go after this film.

Haro Rates It: Really Bad.
1 hour, 38 minutes, Rated R for violence including grisly images of torture, nudity and language.

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