Untraceable is Too Much Gore, Not Enough Story

Diane Lane film is unsettling to endure.

Studio: Screen Gems Poster

For those who have long surpassed the DVD, you may remember that the case usually provides a positive review to ensnare your attention. Untraceable with Diane Lane references Seven to draw comparison to this like-minded creepy thriller. And while the sheer horror and gore will keep you on the edge of your seat, it’s not really enough to stomach the nausea of this 2008 Gregory Hoblit film.

Diane Lane plays cyber crime detective Jennifer Marsh and is good at what she does. Of course, her diligence often leaves her young daughter on the outs and returns the prerequisite amount of absent guilt.

No matter, she is struck when a website called Killwithme.com pops up on her screen and features the slow death of a kitten caught in a rat trap. But Lane’s concern gets relegated to a symptom of her hyper attention. “It’s a cat,” her boss deflects.

The Real Kill is On

The stakes get raised when a metal bed frame takes the place of a scratching post and a hapless working man is the one immobilized. The hold — so to speak — tightens with each new web viewer.

Specifically, "Killwithme" is carved into the victim’s chest and an anticoagulant enters through an IV bag. The more clicks, the faster the flow, and the show ends when the victim bleeds to death. 

The authenticity of the stream is questioned by the cyber division, but when the body shows up in a trunk, the drama becomes all too real. As for the film paying audience, it’s clear that the deadly depravity is far from over.

So with each abduction, the dread of another slow burn awaits and leaves the faint of heart with a conundrum. If I want to see how this ends, I guess I’m going to have to endure a lot of excess.

This is No Seven

You might say the same for Seven — even though the actual murders are all presented after the fact. But violence (or the implied violence) wasn’t the only thing driving the drama.

Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman were perfect compliments to their differing styles. Their approach to police work was especially pleasing. Freeman was clever and introspective, while Pitt provided balance with tough talk and brute force.

In this film, Diane Lane sleeps with her co-star (Billy Burke) and the killer’s identity is unearthed without much brain work. Her doomed partner (Colin Hanks) leaves a clue and connecting the dots is pretty much a straight-line endeavor.

The motive is pretty simple too for Owen Reilly (Joseph Cross). Revenge, as it relates to the voyeur aspect of the internet, and the manner in which a loss can be more public than desired.

The depth of the killer’s madness doesn’t add up either. His anger is certainly understandable. But there’s nothing indicating that he has accrued the necessary amount of lifelong horror to commit such atrocities.

By comparison, Seven gives you an incremental sense of how Kevin Spacey arrived at his inhuman destination, and despite not witnessing the details, the descent blows you away by film’s end.

Social Commentary Not Groundbreaking Either

John Doe does have an agenda, but the social commentary he’s trying to make is only pertinent to that of fellow mad men. Untraceable, on the other hand, clearly makes a social statement about the realities of high speed rubber necking. If it bleeds, it leads is taken to a new level, but if you consider the numbers, there’s nothing out the ordinary.

If there are three billion internet users around the world, .1% would probably tune in live to see a murder. And the millions of views the killer gets is more than enough to do the trick. Still, the sentiment is something to consider but it doesn’t really justify enduring this four stage slow slaughter.

At least it wasn’t for me.

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Untraceable is Too Much Gore, Not Enough Story