Based on a story by genre producer Moshe Diamant, who penned the concepts for "Midnight Man" (1994) and "Simon Sez" (1999), and written by forgettable newbie Josephine Coyle, "feardotcom" (or "Fear Dot Com") gave loud horror director William Malone another opportunity to pay homage to some of his favourite horror motifs - notably the child with the bouncing ball from Frederico Fellini's "Toby Dammit" - while exploiting diverse CGI effects and eerie lighting to indulge in the kind of flash shocks and Barker-grunge that coated his gory 1999 remake of William Castle's "House On Haunted Hill."
The real stars are the film's moody locations - largely in Luxembourg, with brief snippets in Montreal (namely scenes with the always wasted Michael Sarrazin) - that include Deco lofts, fifties décor, and a Depression era factory complex, plus the film's conclusion within a decommissioned power furnace. The layered effects - many lasting just a few frames - are well-transferred on Warner Bros' DVD, with a solid balance of colours, and good replication of the film's low lighting and Malone's dim multiple exposure montages.
The DVD's 5.1 sound mix is first rate, combining nasty sound effects with Nicholas Pike's largely orchestral soundscape.
The commentary track with director Malone and cinematographer Christian Sebalt is basic, covering location and lighting aspects, with minor nods to the film's lead cast, and token kudos to cult actors Udo Kier and Jeffrey Combs (themselves relegated to meaningless roles). The location shooting is the most interesting, though given Malone's experience with horror movies and TV production - having worked on "The Others," "Perversions Of Science," "Tales from the Crypt," and the highly underrated "W.E.I.R.D. World" TV movie - some insight regarding the direction of actors for the horror genre, selecting locations, developing ideas for the screen, and shaping the elements into a final product with the right balance of scares and pauses would have boosted the track's value.
An included featurette, "Visions of Fear," is a straightforward EPK that combines money shots with cast and director interviews.
Director Malone also provides a video intro for "Mushroom Factory," a deleted sequence involving the ghost's appearance in a factory and the caretaker's hallucinations that lead to his demise. Still in its raw stage, there's no sound effects or score, and the raw green screen shots - with reflector boards and adjacent rigging - give an indication of the work that would have added moody effects, and required erasing the film equipment for continuity.
A "Fear Gallery" covers early concept sketches for the ghost, and storyboards for computer geek Denise, who suffers from an awful fear of bugs.
A standard entry in the Loud and Pretty horror sub-genre, where any story, plotting, logic, characters, and sense of time well spent for audiences is utterly non-existent.
© 2003 Mark R. Hasan