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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Untraceable

    In 1994 Don DeLillo wrote a short story entitled Videotape. A young girl innocently pointed a video camera at the man in the car behind her. He smiled and waved just before the Highway Killer shot him. This videotape was played on the local and national news programs multiple times so every viewer could see it again and again: just in case they missed it the first time. Today images are available in seconds and can be replayed countless times on the Internet. Anything can be seen and commented on by anyone with access. Some of the most popular websites are Google (a search engine), Facebook (for social networking and scopophilia), and You Tube (spectatorship). Every website counts its visitors but no real harm has ever come of it. Untraceable is not about the killer or the characters after him but the public as an accessory to murder. The more people that enter Killwithme.com, the faster a victim will die. Despite the warnings, each victim dies in less time because of the increased visitors. It began with a cat. Because human life is valued over other animals’ it didn’t cause much panic, except Jennifer Marsh (played by Diane Lane), a computer specialist, predicts that the worse was yet to come. His following victims, all adult men, were duped right into the killer’s trap. The third and fourth were smart enough to signal their knowledge of his identity into the camera. The torture methods were not progressively more excruciating but rather got the job done sooner. The final device was to finish the victim off in mere moments. He was not a serial killer but had chosen them with purpose. In the first Saw, the killer was not revealed until the end. Untraceable introduces him with the third victim, perhaps less than halfway through the film. Joseph Cross as Owen, mastered the psycho stare and voice only previously achieved by Anthony Perkins of Psycho, Jack Nicholson of The Shining, and Vincent D’Onofrio of Full Metal Jacket. He was composed and sinister in each of his scenes. Jennifer’s 8 year-old daughter’s reasons for existence were only to provide her with the emotional conflict as a single mother and tug on the audiences’ heartstrings. Annie is just as annoying as she is oblivious to what her mother must deal with at work. It was more painful to watch this child act than watch a victim’s skin boil and bubble. In contrast, Colin Hanks’ character Griffin was significant to the plot. Because of his dedication to the project he was the first and only to discover the connections between Owen and the dead. Detective Box was the male status that Griffin lacks and who Jennifer had to rely on for support. However, she disregarded his instructions and landed herself in a predictable position. In fact, this whole film was predictable; following the formula to a T. And the sound department pathetically interjected the extras’ gasps of shock. What Jennifer and her co-workers failed to realize was that as they entered the website on their computers and PDAs, they are contributing to the visitor count and thus accessories as well. No one was able to take his or her eyes off the screen as each victim periled. Untraceable was not about the story’s elements, characters, torture, or the killer’s psychology. It was a reflection of society’s natural inclination and heightening adoration for the visually shocking and vile content able to be viewed. Interest in such is not a consequence of the videotape or Internet. Hangings, beheadings, etc have long been a public affair; except now more people can attend the event. As technology advances and becomes more obtainable it will be harder to maintain and keep down.

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