Theres a serial killer on the loose in rain-drenched Portland, Oregon, a predator who tortures his prey on-camera, ramping the grisly, graphic violence with every gawker who clicks on his website to observe whats happening. A counter reveals the accelerating number of hits as each new agony is unveiled.
One woman is hung, upside-down, from the ceiling and gradually lowered over sharp, rotating blades. A man is trapped inside a tank of water into which sulfuric acid is slowly dropped. When theres a predetermined amount of Internet voyeurs, the victim animal or human is killed in front of millions of viewers.
FBI Special Agent Jennifer Marsh (Diane Lane) is a struggling, widowed single mother working in the cybercrimes division, along with her nerdy young partner, Griffin Dowd (Colin Hanks). Marsh is horrified by the streaming videos on killwithme.com, but this tech-savvy psychopath is virtually untraceable. And when she finally realizes that the anonymous stalker is striking too close to home, she gets help from her supportive mother (Mary Beth Hurt) and a Portland police detective, Eric Box (Billy Burke).
Written by Robert Fyvolent, Mark R. Brinker and Alison Burnett, directed by Gregory Hoblit (Fracture, Primal Fear) and photographed by Anastas Michos, its a formulaic, melodramatic, ultimately improbable cyber-thriller.
Dont blame the actors. Diane Lane is convincingly conflicted, torn between work and family, and Colin Hanks Toms son acquits himself admirably, looking for love in cyberspace.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, Untraceable is a geeky, gruesome, repugnant 3. The moral were told is that the acting of choosing to watch makes us accessories to the crime; without an audience, presumably, there would be no murder. And without an audience, this disturbing police procedural should move quickly to the video store.