2002 was a token year for the horror film: New classics such as “Frailty”, “The Ring”, and “One Hour Photo” used deliberate pacing, shock imagery and disturbing undertones to terrify patient film-goers and breathe life into the inanimate corpse that is the current state of the horror film. However, for every inspired terror tour-de-force comes a tepid wannabe that threatens to put a halt to our beloved genres’ momentum: For 2002, that movie was “Feardotcom”.
Now this movie beat the remake of “The Ring” to theaters, but it pillaged a ridiculous amount of material from the Japanese classic. The plot is as follows: A man and a woman are in a race against time after viewing a website that kills you in a 24 hour time frame via your worst fear. Sound familiar?
However, “Ringu”‘s concept worked because it existed in Urban Legend, where tales of the supernatural and macabre run rampant. “Feardotcom”, on the other hand, exists in our reality, which destroys much of the believability factor and creates one HUGE plot hole: If such a deadly website exists, wouldn’t it have been reported and subsequently shut down? This isn’t an elusive videotape, it is a frickin public website!
Now, if this were the only problem, then the single skull that appears at the bottom of your screen would be unjustified, but “Feardotcom” has so many inconsistencies and missteps that it defies imagination and makes one wonder how it got by Q&A. Here goes…(WARNING: provides minor spoilers.)
First off, “Feardotcom” provides NO explanation as to why the supernatural happenings occur in the first place. A serial killer makes the site, so how is the ghost of the little girl appearing to the victims before they keel over? WHY is a little girl appearing? The movie tells us WHO this little girl is, but provides no reason why this apparition appears to begin with. “The Ring” worked because it established itself as a supernatural thriller by establishing believability. The feeling you get from watching “Feardotcom” is that all the visions and spooky elements were tacked on with no rhyme or reason to them. They were simply taking advantage of an overly generous budget, paying no heed to ‘miniscule’ things such as plot, character, etc…
I didn’t give this movie the absolute worst rating because its audio/visual presentation was well above average, and did impress me on more than one instance. The music was very subtle and creepy, and the whole movie has very grainy cinematography that is both beautiful and effective in establishing mood. But why spend the time, energy, and resources on a movie that should’ve been lucky to grace the direct-to-video section at your local Blockbuster?
“Feardotcom” is a movie that you should avoid at all costs. If “The Ring” and its Japanese counterpart never existed, this sad excuse of a movie would still be well, well below average. But with the previously mentioned movies vastly gaining respect and notoriety all over the world, “Feardotcom” stands as an abomination.