Thursday 16 January 2014

IMDb Bottom 100 Review - Number 99

So we’re one film into this debauched trip down nightmare lane, and I guess we can say, with only a slightly jittery voice; so far so good. Troll 2 is over and done with, and since it was on the #100 spot, it was supposed to be the best of the 100, right? Wrong. Formerly Troll 2 topped the Bottom 100 list at a solid #1 spot. It reigned supreme for a while, but was reduced to #100 (or even off the list entirely), because it has gotten to the stage in its life cycle, where people are voting it 10s because it’s cult and they think that’s an awesome thing to do. But hey, look at me going off on Troll 2 again, when I should’ve moved on. Seriously you guys, Troll 2 sucked, and perhaps I won’t ever truly recover from watching it. I digress, however, as there are more pressing matters at hand. Today’s review is coming up, and this one is, not surprisingly, also a doozy.

How the financers looked upon first viewing the final film.

Made in 2002, as you can see, this movie is all about the dangers of online chat rooms and the internet in general. Not in a ‘there’s a lesson to be learned here’ kind of way. No, that’d be a little too profound for this particular Bottom 100 entry. It’s just about stuff happening to somebody done by somebody else that happens to be through an online chat room. Now, as I’m sure we are all aware, most people who frequent online chat rooms are relatively normal. Relatively. I mean, they are just people like you and me, right? Sure the internet lends a certain freedom when it comes to anonymity, and the liberty to act like a complete douche without fear of repercussion. We’ve all been there at some point, telling some poor sod to throw themselves in front of a baby stroller because they didn’t share the exact same views as ourselves. Or is that just me? In any case, this movie perfectly illustrates exactly how it never goes, when you join an online chat room. Granted, back in 2002, this whole internet business worked little differently. It had taken on a form similar to today, but for many people it still had an air of lewd mystique and for many parents in particular, I guess, it seemed dangers lurked around every corner. Several movies have dealt with this particular problem in a good and inspired way. This movie does not. It deals with it in a stupid and completely missing the point kind of way. Besides, it doesn’t even really deal with it. It just uses it in an attempt to make several weird sequences seem connected. In show business we call this plot.

A valid question, the movie offered no answer to.

What the fuck is it about even?
Unlike many of its Bottom100 partners in crime, this movie seems, on the face of it, to have an underlying potential to be an interesting movie, provided your disbelief’o’meter has been safely tucked away under your bed with the late night TV shopping fitness equipment you meant to use 5 summers ago. I mean none of the films on this list really make a whole lot of sense in the most basic meaning of the word, but some of them actually lurk on the outskirts of a coherent plot. I say lurks on the outskirts, because it is like every time they are about to make sense, they just barely swerve around it. Basically this is a thriller type movie, where an innocent girl is targeted by a brutal killer, with foreseen consequences. That's what little needs to be made sense of, and still... nothing. 

Oh Mr. Daltrey. Where did it all go wrong?

So Nastassja Kinski's character Sondra is in a wheel chair, which of course is our first clue that she’s going get into trouble. Nobody in a wheel chair ever had a perfectly serial killer free evening home alone before. It’s the third law of physics or something. She’s living with Ben, played by none other than legendary The Who front man Roger Daltrey. Interesting career move. Ben’s going out of town on business, leaving the wheel chair bound Sondra alone in his fully automated high tech mansion.

Just a regular night at home.

Immediately after Ben has exited stage left, trusting her to handle everything for him while he's away, she rushes to his computer to totally nose around in his stuff. Apparently old Ben has been chatting up some sweet online honeys on the side. Tut tut Ben! Sondra has suspected for a while, it would appear, and boots up a dedicated piece of chat room software no less, to see just how bad the damage is. Of course she manages to guess the password after just one or two tries. I think Sondra and Ben are just casual boy/girlfriend, but perhaps they have been together long enough to know each other well enough to guess passwords. We just assume so anyway. By now, Sondra’s friend Misty (played by Desperate Housewives’ very own Nicollete Sheridan) has arrived (we get to watch the mansion respond to doorbell ringing and gate opening and whatnot. Super fun, and gives us an idea of just how sophisticated everything is), and together they discover the depths of Ben’s betrayal. Weirdly enough, Sondra doesn’t seem too disturbed by this betrayal business. I wondered why, until I realized it wasn’t important in the story, but only functioned as a lead up to the real issue: while in Ben’s chat room, Sondra and Misty manage to piss off another chat room patron who calls himself Werther.

Get your own coffee, you sick cripple!

This stirs up quite a shitstorm, because it turns out that not only is Werther a world class hacker, he is also a deranged serial killer, whose interests include filming murders, stalking women, crying in the bathtub and reading Faust naked! Faust, as you will no doubt already know, dear enlightened beautiful clever sweet sweet reader, is the classic German legend of a guy who makes a pact with old Lucifer (ze devil!) exchanging his useless soul for unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures. Basically it’s the classic soul exchange package. .Com for Murder plays heavily on this legend, I guess, with Werther perhaps having negotiated a deal with the Devil, for obscenely adequate hacking skills, to the point where he can derive physical addresses of every swinging dick, just from seeing their internet handle on a screen. Where is your fully automated mansion’s defensive measures now, legendary The Who front man Roger Daltrey?

On his way to a fine night of live streaming murder.

What ensues is a series of events so ludicrously stupid and incoherent, and over the top unexciting, that you can’t help but wonder if the people making this were also watching this. Werther has unlimited technology at his fingertips (that are also sometimes hooked up to small lamps or something), so capable in fact the he can force a live stream of himself murdering somebody onto the screen of Sondra and Misty, while driving and walking around AND murdering. And when they want to save the film clip for police use, Werther then crashes their hard drive remotely too. Convenient. Now, this is the middle of the night, but still they just call up some support dude who willingly makes a house call. As if this wasn’t enough, they also get the FBI involved, and we are treated to another musical cameo, when Huey Lewis turns up as Agent Matheson. Huey was just sitting around his FBI office at fucking 3 AM waiting for something to do. To top that off the guys in the ballistics, IT and fingerprint divisions are also open 24/7, because he keeps getting data processed at moment’s notice throughout the film. No wonder the US defense budget is through the roof! 

The power of love wasn't enough for him. 

The events of the final 20 minutes are too flat out retarded to go into in detail with. They involve the security system of the mansion throwing fits in the moment of need, Huey Lewis bringing his SWAT team to the wrong house, Werther cutting the wrist of Misty and Sondra rushing to save her within 20 minutes (on screen timer countdown and everything), because that is apparently the precise amount of time you can stay alive, if your wrist is cut. Also, the remedy for a cut wrist is just a towel tied around your arm. Yay! Another win for modern medicine. Obviously Werther ends up fried in the pool, and everybody else are A-OK! The infidelity issue of Ben isn’t dealt with, so we’ll just assume Sondra is too shook up to remember he was doing the nasty with online skanks. Also, his computer was destroyed in the process, so whatever proof is gone. Out of sight out of mind, and Ben can sleep around undisturbed for ever!

I never figured out what these actually were?

Is it actually that bad, or are you just a pussy?
It’s not that the movie is bad (it totally is, but it’s not that). It’s just that it falls into the same trap as so many other movies on this list: it doesn’t make any sense. I mean, there are so many plot holes and leaps and artistic liberties taken, that it ends up being completely fragmentary. You know how you sometimes watch a movie and think “hey… how did that guy know that that other guy had already done something?”. Well imagine that, only for 90 consecutive minutes. Nothing that happens in this flick makes proper sense when put together really. The technology is completely stupid, but I can forgive that, since conveying something like hacking on screen visually would pretty much just be a guy typing text on a black monitor. Only a handful of movies have portrayed this activity properly, the most well known of which was The Matrix Reloaded

Sadly, this could just as easily be 2014

But back to .Com for Murder. The acting, obviously, is subpar at best. Roger Daltrey and Huey Lewis probably shouldn’t be doing too much of that in the future. Nastassja Kinski is the daughter of legendary German actor Klaus Kinski, which is all fine and good. But taking a peek at her wrap sheet, I can’t say I’m too impressed with her body of work. The guy playing Werther is just straight up shitty. I don’t think I have a more fitting word. Not only does he only chat/surf/hack while naked (I don’t even know what the fuck that’s about), he also wears weird virtual reality type gloves and an out of this world headgear. I mean, I know he’s supposed to come off as some superpsycho hackertype dude, but come on… That’s just ridiculous. You take one look at this goofball, and tell me he should be given a delayed Oscar at the 2014 event, and I'll nod condescendingly, while pocket dialing the local mental hospital on your ass.

NO sophisticated mansion. Y U NO WORK!

I know I didn’t go into detail with the ending and for that I don't apologize. The reason isn't that I don't want to spoil it for you, it is just that it's too god damn ridiculous to really even comment on. It’s supposed to be exciting and feverish and keep us at the edge of our seats, but it comes off as super corny and kept me so far away from the edge of my seat, I was scared I wouldn’t ever be able to get up. Kind of like watching a few episodes of Full House. You know it sucks, you don’t want to watch it, but you are fascinated with just how low the collective integrity levels of everybody involved gets. This movie, like Troll 2, had to have gone through a screening process, where somebody read the script and said: “Yes… Yes I will pay you money to make this into something that exists!” And later, somebody had to have watched it, and said: “Yes… Yes this is something I am happy to have paid money towards making happen”. I just don’t understand why nobody saw/read this and thought ‘fuck no. This sucks!. This sucks bad and you should feel bad about it’. I guess there is a reason I am not in the movie business. Not yet anyway.

Lady Heather? From CSI? You've gone too far this time!

I’ll give special mention to the whole fully automated mansion gimmick. I use fully automated as a loose term of course, as in there are cameras and a typical of 90s technology films computerized voice that expresses way too advanced abilities in contextualizing, calculating and situational awareness. Even by today’s standards, the idea of a house so rigged with advanced computer technology that you can almost communicate with it, is kind of ludicrous, because the amount of things you can automate in a house in the actual 2014 world ends up being fairly limited. At least to a layman. Opening of gates, controlling of locks, levels of lights and the states of drapes. Since I’m feeling frisky, I’ll go ahead and include the content of a refrigerator, entertainment centers and possibly a visitor’s log to that list. Unless you are Bill fucking Gates or otherwise on the cutting edge of technology, it just comes off as tame. Also, with all this fancy smancy technology, Ben still has a password any 5 year old mentally challenged kid could guess.

Thank heavens she made it. Cut wrists can be nasty!

Why is this something that exists?
Beats the fuck out of me, to be honest. Nastassja Kinski is kind of a big name for this project, I guess, and her attachment may have been a major factor in making this movie happen. She had a few other hit movies, if by hit movies you mean movies that were made and didn’t completely suck. Alright, I haven’t watched them all, but I don’t remember her performance as standing out in the ones I did watch. The director of this movie is Greek, and called Nico Mastorakis, and his IMDb profile page, while lacking in actual information, does state that he ‘frequently wears a cap’ as the only piece of trivia. So he has that going for him. His other directing/writing credits are dubious at best, and perhaps .Com for Murder really was his magnum opus. If that is the case, my guess is he has a day job besides writing and directing. I hope so anyway. Looking over company credits, it seems the super-de-duper guys over at MGM are listed as distributors of this caca. Seriously, MGM? It’s been 12 years since Troll 2. You need to reevaluate your staff choices!

Guy kills with joy, still has a cry in the shower later. 

So why else could this movie have been made? There isn’t a whole lot of actual information out there, regarding this movie. Assumingly because nobody gives a shit. Perhaps it was made because Huey Lewis wanted to firmly establish himself as an actor? Roger Daltrey and Huey Lewis joining forces in a subpar film? Can’t be a coincidence. Perhaps the Music Industry isn’t lying; The internet really did kill CD sales! Perhaps Nico Mastorakis’ cap endorsement deal paid off. Perhaps there really IS a god and he hates us? Hard to say. But it does exist, and I have watched it. The joke’s on me, I guess.

Because this is just too weird, you get another one.

You certainly have a lot of hate. Could you do better?
After careful consideration, I’m gonna go with 'yes perhaps'. Final answer. I believe a group of folks, given a few cameras and a small stack of cash, could probably churn out something either on par with this, or better. The story was stupid at best. The effects where so-so. I mean, for 2002. Not great at all, especially considering Jurassic Park from fucking 1993 still looks amazing by today’s standards. 

Werther live streams some B & E!

The acting was terrible. Phoned in performances. I’m no actor, but I could easily sit naked on a bed, wearing ridiculous sci-fi looking gear, drooling and acting like a moron. Hell, I’m typing this review wearing no pants. So what is left? Could I get Huey Lewis and Roger Daltrey to appear in my piece of shit movie? Probably not. Or… could I? Probably not still, but I assume they needed cash, because why the hell else would they show up for this crap?

Yes, he has fetuses in jars by his bed. Nothing makes sense.

In the end, I feel my criticism is justified, even if I can’t top this with my own stuff. I bet the cast and crew couldn’t write a better review than mine, so whatevs. The movie isn’t good, by any means, and it appears that this was an acceptable part of the experience for everybody involved. Perhaps they still enjoyed making it, even if I certainly did not enjoy watching it. It is, after all, still a job for lots of these people, and free on set catering food, right? Who says not to free food and money just for making a complete fool of yourself on celluloid? Nobody, that’s who! Except lots of people with artistic and personal integrity.

Girl can't get a date, goes online for one. Hilarity ensues.

Fuck off, bro! You can’t convince me there isn’t one redeeming thing about this!

I suppose, if I was pushed with threats of physical and mental violence perpetrated onto me and my closest friends and family, I could go so far as to say that elements of .Com for Murder had a laughable quality to them. Like I already did mention, I don’t really go in for the whole so bad it’s good mentality, into which .Com for Murder would certainly fit. To me, it’s just bad. I admit to laughing out loud at the sheer stupidity a few times, but I wasn’t actually entertained at any point during the movie. I had to check how much was left of it, when viewing, and to me that is always a bad sign. 

Opening scene, camera cleverly reflected in cleaned up knife.

As with most of these flicks from the bottom end of the barrel, .Com for Murder was barely over an hour and a half, which I guess is an actual redeeming quality. But when that hour and a half is supremely dull and pointless, it feels like Return of the King, only with less Hobbits, wizards, Elves, swords, horses, Nazg├╗l and rings thrown into the fiery chasm from whence they came. It feels like somebody has broken both your legs, and fed you ecstasy, leaving you wide-awake but unable to move away. I watched it because I felt me watching it would have entertainment value for other people. I’m sort of an entertainment Jesus in that sense. Yes, Jesus. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it! 

Film studio execs after this review catapults film back into fame.


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