Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans

.com FOR MURDER **


Directed by Nico Mastorakis.
Starring Nastassja Kinski, Jeffery Dean, Roger Daltrey, Melinda Clarke, Huey Lewis,
Kim Valentine, Nicollette Sheridan.
Horror/Thriller, USA,97 mins, cert 18.

Released in the UK on Blu-ray via Arrow Video on 6th February 2023.


Remember that period during the late '90s/early 2000s when movies went ‘cyber’, because the information superhighway was infiltrating the way we lived our lives? The impending threat of people looking into our lives through our computers was something that was taken very seriously at the time – this was shortly after we had to shred everything made of paper in the house in just in case somebody saw a bank statement and potentially take all of our money - and there was a slew of movies with words like ‘web’ and ‘hack’ in their title.


Well, .COM FOR MURDER is one of those titles. Originally released in 2002 and directed by Nico Mastorakis, the filmmaker behind notorious video nasty ISLAND OF DEATH, the movie sees temporarily wheelchair-bound Sondra (Nastassja Kinski) saying goodbye to her architect boyfriend Ben (for some reason played by The Who’s Roger Daltrey) after having a very unnatural conversation about chat rooms and home security before he goes off somewhere on business. Naturally, being an architect, Ben’s house is full of all the latest security gadgets that can easily be hacked into by a serial killer who happens to have a cool line in webcams and other such stuff that hadn't been invented yet, or had been invented but was not yet used for the purposes shown in this film.


Anyway, Sondra is joined for her chat room session by her sister Misty (Nicollette Sheridan) and together they manage to attract the attention of said serial killer Werther (Jeffery Dean) who, as it turns out, is able to track down the two vulnerable women thanks to IP addresses, encrypted software and other such things that we aren’t really going to understand for at least another ten years. Luckily, help is at hand in the shape of Huey Lewis; no, honestly, Huey Lewis of Huey Lewis & The News fame – because one past-their-prime rock star in a movie such as this isn’t enough – plays FBI Agent Matheson, who is able to explain all of the tech jargon to Sondra and, by extension, us (although if you watch the archive interview with Lewis in the special features, it is highly likely that he did not actually have a clue what he was talking about when he read his lines), but can he get to the high-tech house in time to save Sondra and Misty from their stalker? If he had a time-travelling DeLorean perhaps…


.COM FOR MURDER is Nico Mastorakis’s attempt to bring the murder mystery elements of Hitchcock classics like DIAL M FOR MURDER (did you notice the pun of the title?) and REAR WINDOW (because Sondra doesn’t really need to be in a wheelchair) into the modern era, and whilst he does make a decent fist of presenting those themes and ideas onscreen in a way that is marginally more interesting – or slightly less patronising, if you like – than many other internet-based thrillers from the early days of surfing the worldwide web, there isn’t really a lot here other than a psycho using tech to watch porn – because the internet is not meant for that and therefore anyone who does it is evil, in movie language anyway – and two women screaming and running – well, one of them does anyway - around a dark house that unlocks doors at inconvenient moments because up-to-date interactive home security is like that. And it is called Hal, just for another movie reference to go alongside all the Hitchcock worship.


Most movies based around technology – especially from this era - look horribly out of date within a year, but .COM FOR MURDER gets around this issue by making sure that most of its tech was way ahead of its time in the first place; yes, chat rooms were a thing in 2002 and webcams had been around for about a decade in one form or another, but anyone fortunate enough to have one probably wouldn’t have been able to use them like our characters do here, specifically at the speed they do and definitely not wirelessly.


It is details like these that give .COM FOR MURDER a bit of a sci-fi edge that does lift it above the (mainly dreadful) THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT found footage clones that were littering up the DVD shelves of Blockbuster Video at the time. However, that still doesn’t stop you shouting at the screen whenever anybody does something particularly dumb (which happens a lot) or convenient (which happens even more frequently). Still, there is always Huey Lewis on hand to come and save the day, which is never not hilarious, and just where did Roger Daltrey go to? He’s in the first act for about five minutes and then you don’t see him again. He could have at least showed up at the end for a little duet with Huey, because if he did that still probably wouldn’t be the daftest thing in this movie.


Overall, .COM FOR MURDER gets credit for looking nice and being forward-thinking with its use of technology – however unintentional that may be – but ultimately you are still watching a mash-up of Hitchcock, Michael Mann’s MANHUNTER and a PC World commercial circa 1999, and the end result is not really as good as any of those things.


Chris Ward.


This web site is owned and published by London FrightFest Limited.


FrightFest is the registered trade mark of London FrightFest Limited.

© 2000 - 2024

Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans