Untraceable is a 2008 American thriller film starring Diane Lane, Colin Hanks, Billy Burke, and Joseph Cross. It was directed by Gregory Hoblit and distributed by Screen Gems.
Set in Portland, Oregon, the film involves a serial killer who rigs contraptions that kill his victims based on the number of hits received by a website KillWithMe.com that features a live streaming video of the victim. Millions of people log on, hastening the victims' deaths.
The film received negative reviews from critics.
Special Agent Jennifer Marsh (Diane Lane) is a widowed single parent living in a suburban Portland home with her daughter, Annie Haskins (Perla Haney-Jardine), and her mother, Stella Marsh (Mary Beth Hurt). At night, she works in the FBI's cybercrime division with Griffin Dowd (Colin Hanks), fighting identity theft and similar crimes. One night, an anonymous tip leads them to a website called KillWithMe.com. The site features a streaming video of a cat being tortured and killed. The website cannot be shut down, as the creator knew that someone would try and built into it a fail-safe; every time the server is closed, a mirror server immediately replaces it.
After the cat's death, KillWithMe.com's webmaster graduates to human victims and makes their deaths correlate directly with the number of hits the site receives. At a press conference, the public is urged to avoid the website, but as Jennifer feared this only increases the site's popularity. The videos are recorded in the killer's basement and his victims include a helicopter pilot (bled to death by injections of anticoagulant), a newscaster (burnt to death by heat lamps while cemented into the floor), and Griffin Dowd (killed by slowly increasing the concentration of sulfuric acid solution in which he is submerged up to his neck).
At first it seems the victims were randomly chosen, but this is revealed to be untrue: the first two victims were chosen because they were part of filming or presenting the suicide of a junior college teacher. The teacher's unstable techno prodigy son, Owen Reilly (Joseph Cross), broke down and was admitted to a psychiatric hospital. When released, he decided to take revenge and prove a point; that the public's interest in the suffering of others is insatiable, as well as to wreak vengeance on those he felt had exploited his father's death. Griffin was killed because he came close to discovering the murderer's identity, and Jennifer is soon targeted after figuring this out as well.
Captured by Owen, Jennifer escapes her death by cultivator by swinging out of the way while dangling from the ceiling. She breaks free and pins down the murderer, fatally shooting Owen on his own website as the police arrive. Owen ends up like his father, his death caught on camera and shown all over the internet. Jennifer displays her FBI badge to the webcam and the scene closes with a shot of the dwindling chatter in the website's chat room, showing statements being made such as "a genius died today" as well as "glad the killer is dead" and another one saying "You go girl!", and a final comment asking whether the video could be downloaded.
- Diane Lane as FBI Agent Jennifer Marsh
- Colin Hanks as FBI Agent Griffin Dowd
- Billy Burke as Detective Eric Box
- Joseph Cross as Owen Reilly
- Mary Beth Hurt as Stella Marsh
- Tyrone Giordano as Tim Wilkes
- Perla Haney-Jardine as Annie Haskins
- Christopher Cousins as David Williams
- Tim De Zarn as Herbert Miller
- Peter Lewis as Richard Brooks
- Jesse Tyler Ferguson as Arthur James Elmer
- Dax Jordan as Scotty Hillman
- John Breen as Richard Weymouth
- Brynn Baron as Mrs. Miller
- Phil Hamilton as Mr. Miller
The film was shot in and around Portland, Oregon. A temporary studio was constructed in Clackamas, Oregon, where all non-location photography was done, mostly interiors, including the FBI's cyber division, Jennifer Marsh's house, the FBI building elevator, several basements, etc. A scene set on the east end of the Broadway Bridge was shot both on the actual bridge as well as at the studio. A faux diner was built underneath the Broadway bridge, which was used in the movie. The birthday party for Perla Haney-Jardine's character Annie was filmed in the roller skating rink of Oaks Amusement Park.
Untraceable received negative reviews from critics. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 16% based on 146 reviews, with the site's consensus being, "Despite Diane Lane's earnest effort, Untraceable manages to be nothing more than a run-of-the-mill thriller with a hypocritical message"
Several critics viewed the film as hypocritical for indulging in the "torture porn" it condemns. It also met criticism for its climax which was seen as devolving into horror film clichÃ©s. Lane was praised for her performance in the film. Roger Ebert gave the film a favorable review, giving the film a 3 star rating.
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave this film a strongly negative review giving it zero stars.
The film opened poorly, with an opening weekend of $11.3 million, below the $35 million budget. It grossed $51.8 million worldwide, on theatrical release.
On May 13, 2008, Untraceable was released on both DVD and Blu-ray. The DVD included an audio commentary and four featurettes.
- Untraceable at the Internet Movie Database
- Untraceable at AllMovie
- Untraceable at Box Office Mojo
- Untraceable at Rotten Tomatoes
- Untraceable at Metacritic