I guess I have developed a serial killer movie fetish. There’s something so satisfying in watching these movies types of movies, they’re a guilty pleasure of mine. You already know the structure, motives, and characters, the only thing that’s unknown is how we’re going to get there. How are we going to get to that satisfying moment when the killer is caught and the weary detective can finally breathe a sigh of relief? Now, with that being said, there’s nothing that I appreciate more than a deviation from the norm. A unique approach or a gimmick that breathes fresh air into the genre.
Untraceable is a serial killer movie with a modern twist as the killer is now streaming his murders live on the Internet. And Jennifer Marsh of the FBI’s cybercrime division is always one step behind him. I wonder how these movies featuring current technological advancements are going to hold up in 20 years’ time. Will they be laughably primitive or are they going to be talking about how far ahead of their time they were? Starring Diane Lane and Colin Hanks, the acting was good and so were the production values. And the kills are quite graphic, creative, and brutal.
However, there was this CSI vibe that I didn’t like so much. Which is strange because I really like all those CSI shows. Another guilty pleasure of mine. Untraceable also follows the unwritten thriller rules to the letter. So, you could say that it’s a bit predictable. To counter that narrative we delve into the lives of FBI agents who spend most of their time in front of the computer. This is something we rarely get to chance to see as the movies always follow field agents busting doors and shooting people. In another life, I see myself working this type of job. I love computers and it would be cool to help take down these sickos.
Jennifer Marsh is a busy woman. She’s working for the FBI’s cybercrime division, mostly at night, and during the day she’s raising her daughter by herself. One day the team gets a tip to check out a new site www.killwithme.com that’s streaming some really sick videos. The first of them is a murder of a cat but soon human victims start appearing bound and placed in elaborate killing machines. The killer seems to be tech-savvy and very ruthless, as the FBI cannot shut down the site because mirrors keep popping up. And so a game of cat and mouse begins.
As always it’s fun to see just how the general population is fucked up and twisted. I have no doubt that if this happened in the real world, people would watch these videos. And probably ask for more of them. Hell, there’s a whole section of Darknet dedicated to gruesome videos like this. Beneath the veneer of “ordinary people” lies the true, brutal animal that takes pleasure in killing and witnessing these fucked up events. Of course, movies like Saw started this whole sub-genre, with Hostel following the trend.
Untraceable is not the first movie to explore the link between the Internet and murders. Japanese 2001 horror Pulse AKA Kairo follows a group of people who discover that the spirits are trying to enter our world through the Internet. And the ill-fated 2002 thriller Feardotcom basically has the same plot as the movie we’re talking about today. That same year, Halloween: Resurrection tried and failed to do something similar. Short (100 minutes), pacey, and easy to follow, Untraceable is a great warm-up movie. Something to kick-start your movie night before you get to the real stuff. So, be sure to check it out.
Director: Gregory Hoblit
Writers: Robert Fyvolent, Mark Brinker, Allison Burnett
Cast: Diane Lane, Billy Burke, Colin Hanks, Peter Lewis, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Perla Haney-Jardine
Fun Stuff: The TV reports you see in the movie Untraceable are real reporters from Portland, Oregon’s KPTV Fox 12.