By Eric Campos | September 1, 2002

In “FearDotCom,” William Malone and company have completely and shamelessly ripped off Hideo Nakata’s cult sensation “The Ring.” All of the elements are here. Instead of videotape images killing people shortly after seeing them, it’s a website featuring disturbing imagery of torture and murder that kills anyone that surfs through it 48 hours after doing so. There’s also an investigative team who fall under the curse by visiting the website, so they must rush against time to solve its mystery. There’s even a mysterious girl wading amongst the website images and hallucinations that those images cause. Now, stealing from movies from other countries has been going on for a while now – back and forth. But, there’re two problems here in “FearDotCom”. The first is that “The Ring” is a very well known movie and quite a few people will see “FearDotCom” for what it is – a complete ripoff. The second problem is, Dreamworks has produced an official remake of “The Ring,” which is to be released this October. So now we have two movies opening within a couple months of each other that almost have the exact same s**t going on. Thing is, if “The Ring” remake winds up being a pile of manure, at least it won’t be as bad as “FearDotCom,” I guarantee you. William Malone’s little “movie” will be left in the dust for people to point and laugh at.
On top of being a rip off of another film, this movie is just a complete mess. It’s a fairly simple story, but the filmmakers manage to keep it thoroughly confusing throughout. Here we go – Dead bodies have been popping up all over New York for reasons unknown. A homicide detective and a health inspector (brought in to decide whether it’s a virus that’s killing these people) are assigned to the case when they discover that the one thing linking all of these people together is that they had visited a website called feardotcom.com, not fear.com, but feardotcom.com. The website features images of women being tortured and killed and anyone that views them drops dead 48 hours afterwards. Meanwhile, we have scenes where we get to see the killer of these women stalk and claim his victims, videotaping their grisly demises for the website.
So there you have it, nice and simple and a little mysterious. But now I’m gonna blow some things open that you may not want to read if you plan on seeing this film, however, I advise you skip the film and just read ahead. Save yourself the money. So, basically, the curse has come about from the killer’s first web victim, whose soul exists inside the website and damns anyone for visiting by slowly driving them mad with hallucinatory images of their own worst fears until they have a stroke and drop dead 48 hours later. One of the major things that confused me about this was that I never knew how involved the serial killer (called “The Doctor”) was with this whole curse thing. I didn’t know if he knew about it or planned it or what the f**k. I actually didn’t know until the very end, which didn’t do much for my viewing experience on a whole.
Also, the detective and the health inspector sure are quick to believe this whole evil power of the Internet thing. There’s never an issue of unbelievability with them. There’s no – “What are you crazy? The Internet can’t kill people,” type argument going on. They just automatically believe. In this sense I was just confused in how these characters could be so out of touch with reality.
Then there’s issues with the website itself. I’m no webmonkey, but if there was a site featuring live snuff images, wouldn’t the feds come in and shut the whole thing down right away? The feds do come in, but only way later in the movie and they’re only mentioned. We never see these feds and as far as we’re concerned, they don’t do a goddamn thing as it’s up to the detective and his sidekick to solve the case. This is just more stupid than confusing, but it added to the fog building in my head all the same.
The characters here are pretty miserable as well. Mike, the homicide detective (Stephen Dorff), is a hollow, stock New York cop while Terry, the health inspector (Natascha McElhone), just stumbles around reacting to scary s**t. The Doctor (Stephen Rea) is a real beaut, too. He’s a whiny Hannibal Lechter wanna-be that likes to talk to his victims more than slice and dice them. Rather than being frightened of him, I wanted to slap him silly.
This movie is plain stupid from the get go, but at least it looks good. For the first third, I figured I’d just relax and bask in the grim imagery that was overdone at times, but still enjoyable. Basically, the filmmakers were trying to create the look and feel of “Se7en,” with this one as nearly the entire film is drenched in rain and gloom. Also, the actual images on the cursed website are kinda cool, but the thing is that you have to see them over and over again, every time another dumbass visits the site. And this brings me to my next point.
I couldn’t ignore the stupidity anymore when Mike decides to visit the site for himself, right after he promises Terry that he won’t, thus catching the curse. Realizing that he’s f****d, Mike then makes Terry promise that she not visit the site…cut to the next scene where she’s logging onto the site and winds up coming down with the curse as well. Not only is this f*****g stupid, but there’s nothing stimulating about these scenes whatsoever. Each character pretty much sees and goes through the same thing before they wind up being cursed. So there really is no point other than to cause me physical pain. Yes, this film pained me physically – it made my temples throb and all of the restless thrashing around I did in my seat gave me a rash.
There really is no reason to see this film at all. Not even some of the cool, creepy imagery saves it. Don’t waste your time. Besides, if you wanna see a real creepy website, go here.

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