Cast: Diane Lane, Billy Burke, Colin Hanks
Director: Gregory Hoblit
Script: Robert Fyvolent, Mark Brinker
Rated: R, for scenes of violence, torture and strong language
In this country there’s an audience for everything. Well, almost everything. Since the ’60s, there’s been a controversial movie genre called mondo films, documentary (and sometimes pseudo-documentary) films that grab viewers’ attention with sensationalism. The Faces of Death series (beginning in 1978) is perhaps the best example; its explicit images and creative depictions of death will give you nightmares. Even though the movies have been censored in many countries, their followers crave more, and thanks to the internet, their cravings have been easy to satisfy.
Untraceable is without a doubt a movie that explores people’s obsession with these terrifying images. Jennifer Marsh, played by the always reliable Diane Lane (Unfaithful), is an FBI detective specializing in cyber-crime who sets her attention on a web page called Killwithme.com, which features live videos of murder. The more users click on the page, the faster the victims die, and sadly, the site turns into a phenomenon. The film’s title refers to the site’s administrator, who can’t be found because of his technological genius.
Director Gregory Hoblit (Fracture, Primal Fear) is successful in getting his message across in regards to our sociological tendencies, although this could have a downside, in that the audience could feel ashamed of their lack of morality. What’s ironic is that filmmakers criticize our zest for terror, but they continue to hope that we pack the theater.
The director gets distracted from the goal of creating a good suspense film; the tension rises only sporadically. The structure of the story is typical of the genre, and even though it’s not completely predictable, Untraceable‘s grave mistake is using Lane’s character to put into words and clarify for the audience everything that has happened at the end of the movie. I’d rather they show me, instead of tell me. That’s the reason we go to the movies, right?