Untraceable, 18

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The Independent Culture

The serial killer in Untraceable murders his victims by kidnapping them, strapping them into torture devices, and broadcasting their death throes live on his website. His rule is that the more people log on, the more quickly the captive is killed, so every viewer becomes an accessory to murder. Diane Lane, as an FBI agent who could be Clarice Starling's sister, does an impressive job of sounding as if she knows what she's talking about while discussing low TTLs, backdoor Trojans and something to do with a "bot-net", but the premise feels dated: the web is no longer the novel proposition it was when Sandra Bullock made The Net in 1995.

The villain's scheme is also too vague to have much urgency. He never establishes how many "active viewers" it takes to kill the victim in each case, nor how few viewers – active or passive – would be needed to save them. Untraceable is a solid, atmospheric B-movie, but the makers of Saw and Hostel thought through their sadistic premises more carefully.

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