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FeardotCom poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by William Malone
Produced by Limor Diamant
Moshe Diamant
Jean-Marc Félio
Written by Moshe Diamant
Josephine Coyle
Starring Stephen Dorff
Natascha McElhone
Stephen Rea
Music by Nicholas Pike
Cinematography Christian Sebaldt
Edited by Alan Strachan
MDP Worldwide
Fear.Com Productions Ltd.
Carousel Film Company
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date
  • August 30, 2002 (2002-08-30)
Running time
101 minutes
Country United States[1]
Language English
Budget $40 million[2]
Box office $18.9 million[2]

FeardotCom is a 2002 American horror film directed by William Malone and starring Stephen Dorff, Natascha McElhone and Stephen Rea. The plot details a New York City detective investigating a series of mysterious deaths connected to a disturbing website.

Shot on location in Luxembourg, the film was released in mid-2002 and received extremely negative reviews from critics and was a box office failure, grossing only $18,902,015 against its $40 million budget.[2]


Mike Black Reilly (Stephen Dorff) is an NYPD detective who is called to the scene of a mysterious death in the subway system. The victim, Polidori (Udo Kier), exhibits bleeding from his eyes and other orifices and, by the frozen look on his face, appears to have seen something horrifying before being hit by a train.

Department of Health researcher Terry Huston (Natascha McElhone) is intrigued by the find as well, particularly when several more victims show up with identical symptoms.

When a contagious virus is ruled out, Terry and Mike team up to discover what might be killing these people. Initially they are unable to find anything to connect the deaths together; after some more digging for clues, they eventually discover that all of the victims' computers crashed shortly before their passings. They send each of the victims' hard drives to Mike's friend, Denise Stone (Amelia Curtis), who is a forensic specialist.

Denise discovers that all of the victims had visited a website called Feardotcom, which depicts voyeuristic torture murder. Upon looking at the site herself, Denise is subjected to various sights and sounds of torture that eventually drive her crazy and result in her falling to her death from her apartment window.

Mike feels guilty, thinking that he should have never gotten Denise involved in the case. Terry figures out that people who visit the website die within 48 hours, apparently from what they feared most in their lives. Despite such dangerous knowledge, both she and Mike visit the site in order to figure out what is happening.

As they begin to experience paranoia and hallucinations (like the deceased), including that of a young girl and her inflatable ball, they race against time to figure out if any of it has any connection to an extremely vicious serial killer, Alistair "The Doctor" Pratt (Stephen Rea), who's been eluding Mike for years.

It is revealed that Feardotcom is, in fact, a ghost site made by one of Pratt's first victims, who is seeking revenge because people watched her being tortured and murdered. She was tortured by Pratt for 48 hours before she begged him to kill her, which explains why the victims have 48 hours to live. Mike and Terry track down Pratt and release the spirit of the murdered girl from the website, which kills Pratt. However, Mike is also killed.

The ending scene shows Terry lying in her bed with her cat. The phone rings but she hears no one on the line, only online static. She hangs up and hugs the cat.



William Malone directed the film.

The film was shot in Montreal, Québec, Canada, and in Luxembourg.[3]


The film was released on August 9, 2002 in South Korea and on August 30, 2002 in the United States.


The film was originally rated NC-17 due to extreme violence. After multiple trims and appeals, the film was finally re-rated R by the MPAA for "violence including grisly images of torture, nudity and language".[4]

The film was also originally classified R18+ in Australia for high impact violence but before the film's release, it was reclassified MA15+ on appeal.

Box office[edit]

On a budget of $40 million, the film grossed $5,710,128 on its opening weekend, $13,258,249 domestically and $18,902,015 worldwide, making it a box office bomb.[2]

Critical response[edit]

The film was universally panned by critics and holds a 3% 'rotten' rating on movie review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on 99 reviews, with the critics' consensus: "As frustrating as a 404 error, Fear Dot Com is a stylish, incoherent, and often nasty mess with few scares."[5] At Metacritic, the film holds a 16% rating based on 20 reviews, indicating "Overwhelming dislike".[6] The film was criticized for its lack of originality, specifically, an R rating despite an original NC-17 rating, the plot too derivative of Ring, and the premise very similar to the Japanese film Kairo and David Cronenberg's Videodrome.[citation needed]

Empire magazine gave the film one out of five stars, calling it "arguably the least imaginative, most pathetic horror of the decade."[7] The Guardian called it a "nasty, badly acted horror film [...] like Marc Evans' My Little Eye or Olivier Assayas' execrable Demonlover, it manages to be both prurient and very, very naive about the internet."[8] Roger Ebert gave the film two out of four stars and wrote, "strange, how good FeardotCom is, and how bad. The screenplay is a mess, and yet the visuals are so creative this is one of the rare bad films you might actually want to see" and praising the last 20 minutes as something which, if it "had been produced by a German impressionist in the 1920s, we'd be calling it a masterpiece." He added, "The movie is extremely violent; it avoided the NC-17 rating and earned an R, I understand, after multiple trims and appeals, and even now it is one of the most graphic horror films I've seen."[4]

Jami Bernard of The New York Daily News said that "The story is a mess, some of the images offensive, the acting under par and the dialogue silly."[9] Claudia Puig of USA Today said, "Feardotcom is the cinematic equivalent of spam in your e-mail inbox."[10] Furthermore, Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle said, "What we get in FearDotCom is more like something from a bad Clive Barker movie. In other words, it's badder than bad,"[11] while Stephen Holden of The New York Times said that "fear dot com is so rambling and disconnected it never builds any suspense."[12]

Andrew Manning of Radio Free Entertainment stated, "Of all the trash I had to watch in 2002, the insipid FearDotCom easily ranks among the worst,"[13] while Oz of eFilmCritic.com stated: "In a year that has given us some of the worst films of all time, this must surely rank as the worst -- and that's a hard thing to do opposite Master of Disguise."[14]

Awards and nominations[edit]

FeardotCom won 'Worst Film' at the 2003 Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards and 'Grand Prize of European Fantasy Film in Silver' at 2003 Fantafestival.[15][unreliable source?] It was nominated for 'Grand Prize of European Fantasy Film in Gold' at the 2004 Amsterdam Fantastic Film Festival and 'Best Film' at the 2002 Catalonian International Film Festival.[15][unreliable source?]

Home media[edit]

The film was released on DVD on January 14, 2003. A director's cut version of the film, which would be the original NC-17 rated version, has not been announced yet.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "FeardotCom". American Film Institute. Retrieved November 19, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d "fear dot com (2002) - Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 12 August 2012. 
  3. ^ Meikle, Dennis (2005). The Ring Companion. Titan Books. ISBN 978-1845760014. 
  4. ^ a b Ebert, Roger (2002-08-30). "Feardotcom :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews". rogerebert. suntimes.com. Retrieved 12 August 2012. 
  5. ^ "fear dot com (Feardotcom) - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 29 October 2014. 
  6. ^ "FeardotCom Reviews". Meta Critic. Retrieved 2015-07-01. 
  7. ^ Morrison, Alan. "Empire's feardotcom Movie Review". empireonline.com. Retrieved 12 August 2012. 
  8. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (27 June 2003). "FearDotCom". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 12 August 2012. 
  9. ^ Bernard, Jami (2002-08-30). "A HIGH SITE: Stephen Dorff on trail of a cyberkiller". The New York Daily News. Retrieved 2015-07-01. |
  10. ^ Puid, Claudia (2002-08-31). "'Feardotcom': Site better left unseen". USA Today. Retrieved 2015-07-01. 
  11. ^ LaSalle, Mick (2002-08-30). "Evil stalks the Web in gory, inept 'FearDotCom'". San Francisco Gate. Retrieved 2015-07-01. 
  12. ^ Holden, Stephen (2002-08-30). "feardotcom (2002) FILM REVIEW; A Web Site That Puts Horror in Your Head". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-07-01. 
  13. ^ Staff. "Movie Review: FearDotCom". Radio Free. Retrieved 2015-07-01. l
  14. ^ Parry, Chris (2002-09-12). "fear dot com". eFilmCritic. Retrieved 2015-07-01. 
  15. ^ a b "FeardotCom (2002) - Awards". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 12 August 2012. 

External links[edit]