Starring Diane Lane, Joseph Cross, and Mary Beth Hurt. Rated 18A.
It was only a matter of time before the lamentable movie subgenre known as torture-porn stopped being the sole property of the horror scene and grew into a marketable angle for the mainstream thriller. Untraceable boasts a respected director (Gregory Hoblit of Fracture and Primal Fear), and a popular movie star (Diane Lane) but it’s still about people getting tortured to death. Although it doesn’t revel in the gruesome gore of TP franchises like Hostel and Saw, the highly polished, techno-savvy Untraceable is just as reprehensible. Kindhearted men get encased in cement and burned alive by heat lamps, and they have their skin eaten away in water tanks laced with sulphuric acid. Even a kitten has an unhappy fate.
Lane plays FBI agent Jennifer Marsh, a cybercrime specialist who is unable to shut down an “untraceable” Web site run by demented computer whiz Owen Reilly (Joseph Cross, who has a weasel-like visage reminiscent of Michael J. Pollard). A traumatic event involving his father has led the vengeful sicko to create a site where streamed-video deaths are caused by viewers logging on. Each visit increases the severity of whatever is being inflicted on a particular captive. Thirty million hits means the poor sap under the heat lamps is well-done.
Predictably, Marsh becomes personally targeted, her family is endangered, good goes one-on-one with evil, blah, blah, blah. It’s all a commentary on contemporary society’s computer-driven fascination with humanity’s dark side.
That’s all well and good. But did they really have to kill the kitty?