Gregory Hoblit’s Untraceable

Gregory Hoblit’s Untraceable is one of those rare Hollywood serial killer thrillers that manages to walk a tightrope between being super intense and over the top gruesome yet sill smart and believable in its story. Set in chilly, rainy Portland, Diane Lane plays a gruff FBI agent pursuing a particularly nasty mass murderer who kidnaps people, kills them and broadcasts the filmed footage all over the internet, and the more viewers who sign on, the faster they die. You would think that this would come across purely as torture porn or at the very least too gratuitous but they somehow manage to make the thing feel genuine and stylish without tipping into overboard horror territory. This is mainly thanks to the fact that there is a genuinely fascinating reason as to why the killer is doing what he’s doing, down to the very details of his methodology and victim selection. He *is* a cuckoo bananas fucking nut-job but he’s not just some wild sadist off the chain killing at random and only for enjoyment, which the criminal behavioural profiler in me appreciated. The film is incredibly suspenseful and some of the elaborate murder set pieces orchestrate a terrific amount of race against the clock tension, while an ambient score by Christopher Young, solid and engaging lead performance from the always awesome Lane and rain-streaked Pacific Northwest cinematography go a long way. Director Hoblit is responsible for some of my favourite high concept genre thriller including Frequency and Fallen, and I’d now add this one strongly among them. Very good film.

-Nate Hill

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