The Internet’s a killer


Starring Diane Lane, Colin Hanks and Billy Burke. Directed by Gregory Hoblit. Feather River Cinemas and Tinseltown. Rated R.
Rated 3.0

America has a taste for the grotesque. Call it curiosity if you want, but the Internet sure makes it easy to find things like videos of Saddam Hussein’s hanging or prisoners’ beheadings. It’s as simple as supply and demand.

Untraceable takes this curiosity a step further. Instead of just watching a person die via live Web feed, each visitor to a certain site is labeled an accomplice. Because with each additional visitor, the torture—be it by heat lamp or battery acid—becomes worse for the victim. It’s sickly brilliant, when you think about it.

Once alerted to the site, FBI cyber-crimes agent Jennifer Marsh (Diane Lane) tries to shut it down. Elaborate anti-security measures keep Marsh and her partners (Colin Hanks and Billy Burke) from taking down the site, or discerning who is running it. And to make matters more disturbing, the American public is logging on at an alarming rate.

The rest plays out like any other murder mystery, with clues eventually leading to the man they believe to be the killer, who turns the tables on the FBI with a certain technological flair.

Director Gregory Hoblit (Fracture, Fallen) does a solid job here, as does Lane as a justifiably spooked FBI agent/single mother. The story is sluggish, however, when it becomes overly interested in pushing its agenda of crying out against America’s lust for violence.

For example, instead of tuning into the international nature of the Internet, the film makes a point to mention that the domain for is blocked for use by anyone but Americans. Even the killer’s agenda, once revealed, is disappointing, when so many other scenarios could have been just as believable.

For a taste of the movie’s outlook, log on to the site yourself, and you’ll find the home screen used in the film and, if you choose to enter, a preachy pop-up that asks where your morals are.

Some of the scariest and most disturbing movies leave the blood and guts to the viewers’ imagination. In not doing so here, Untraceable falls into its own trap of feeding curiosity. Where then, I ask, are its morals?