American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
"Untraceable" is a horrifying thriller, smart and tightly told, and merciless. It begins with this premise: A psychopath devises ways to kill people online, in live streaming video. The more hits he gets, the further the process continues, until finally his captive is dead. "You're setting a new record!" he tells one agonized victim, as we see the total growing on a hit counter. Trying to stop him are the Cyber Crimes Division of the FBI and the Portland police.
His means of torture and death are sadistic nightmares. Why are so many of us fascinated by horrors in the movies (because, without question, we are)? Maybe it's for the same reason we slow down when we drive past a traffic accident. Maybe because someone else's tragedy is, at least, not ours.
It may be hard-wired in human nature. I don't have the slightest doubt that if a person were being killed on the Internet, it would draw millions of hits.
In "Untraceable," an FBI spokesman holds a press conference to warn people that if they log on, they're accessories to murder. Of course that only promotes the site and increases visits.