This movie takes on two identities: It's a horror film and a commentary on how dangerous the Internet is today. By my estimation, it's about 75 percent successful on both fronts.
Agent Jennifer Marsh (Diane Lane, Unfaithful) is a Portland, Ore.-based FBI cyber specialist heading up a case involving a local psycho who's killing kidnapped victims and broadcasting their torture on the Internet. Their deaths are sped along as more and more viewers visit the perp's site.
Here we have the sermon amid the terror. Not only does the film's producer say he isn't terribly approving of the Internet, but the killer comments repeatedly on society's twisted fascinations and the public's misuse of the Web.
Director Gregory Hoblit's recent resume is full of classic thrillers like Primal Fear (1996), Fallen (1998), Frequency (2000) and last year's Fracture. Though he doesn't hit a homerun here, he clearly brings more to his somewhat gory subject matter than would have Hostel Part II or Saw IV directors Eli Roth and Darren Lynn Bousman.
Lane and Colin Hanks (Orange County) play a good hard-edged heroine and sidekick, respectively, while the scares and torture scenes are enough to keep most fans shifting in their seats without going completely overboard.
The plot is more believable than the movies with that dream guy or the dude in the hockey mask, and seeing how it's Internet-themed, it's mostly relevant. Could somebody really kill people online and get away with it? Rent it and see for yourself.
These videos courtesy of Hollywood Video, 590 Broadway Ave., 208-342-6117.