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Theatrical release poster
Directed byGregory Hoblit
Screenplay by
Story by
  • Robert Fyvolent
  • Mark Brinker
Produced by
CinematographyAnastas Michos
Edited byDavid Rosenbloom
Music byChristopher Young
Distributed bySony Pictures Releasing
Release date
  • January 25, 2008 (2008-01-25)
Running time
101 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$35 million[1]
Box office$53 million[1][2]

Untraceable is a 2008 American psychological thriller film directed by Gregory Hoblit and starring Diane Lane, Colin Hanks, Billy Burke, and Joseph Cross. It was 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.


FBI Special Agent Jennifer Marsh is a widowed single parent living in a suburban Portland home with her daughter, Annie Haskins, and her mother, Stella Marsh. At night, she works in the FBI's cybercrime division with Griffin Dowd, 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, kidnapping them and placing them in death traps that are progressively activated by the number of hits the website receives. The first victim is a helicopter pilot Herbert Miller (bled to death by injections of anticoagulant), followed by a newscaster David Williams (burnt to death by heat lamps while cemented into the floor). At a press conference, the public is urged to avoid the website, but as Jennifer feared, this only increases the site's popularity.

Griffin is kidnapped after investigating a lead based on his hunch as to the killer's identity and receiving a phone call from the killer disguising his voice and posing as one of Griffin's jilted blind dates. In the killer's basement, he is submerged up to his neck in a vat of water with his mouth taped shut; the death trap introduces into the water a concentration of sulfuric acid. After the killer leaves the room, Griffin uses his dying moments to blink a message in morse code, giving the FBI the lead he was following up on.

Jennifer follows up on the morse code message to discover that the victims were not random: they were involved in broadcasting or presenting the suicide of a junior college teacher. The teacher's unstable techno prodigy son, Owen Reilly, 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.

The police raid Owen's house but he is not present. Owen has been following Jennifer because he is now obsessed with her. He captures and places Jennifer in a makeshift death trap: hanging her above a cultivator and progressively lowering her to her death as more people enter the website. Jennifer escapes by swinging out of the way and grabbing a pillar to pull herself onto the ground. She breaks free and pins down the murderer, fatally shooting Owen as the police arrive. Owen's death was being broadcast, just like his father's. Jennifer then displays her FBI badge to the webcam.

While the chatter in the website's chat room dwindles, statements are made such as "You go girl!", "glad the killer is dead" and another one saying "a genius died today". The final comment asks where the video can be downloaded.



The film was shot in and around Portland, Oregon.[3] A temporary studio was constructed in Clackamas, Oregon,[4] 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.[5] 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.


On May 13, 2008, Untraceable was released on DVD, Blu-ray and UMD. The DVD included an audio commentary and four featurettes.[6]


Box office[edit]

The film opened poorly, with an opening weekend of $11.3 million, below the $35 million budget. It grossed $53 million worldwide, on theatrical release.[1]

Critical response[edit]

Untraceable received negative reviews from critics. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 16% based on 149 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".[7]

Several critics viewed the film as hypocritical for indulging in the "torture porn" it condemns.[8][9][10][11] It also met criticism for its climax which was seen as devolving into horror film clichés.[8][12] Lane was praised for her performance in the film.[13][14] Roger Ebert gave the film a favorable review, giving the film a 3 star rating.[15]

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film a strongly negative review, giving it zero stars and insisting readers to not watch the film.[16]


  1. ^ a b c d "Untraceable (2008)". Box Office Mojo. March 2, 2008. Archived from the original on 2018-06-26. Retrieved 2008-03-13.
  2. ^ "Untraceable (2008) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Archived from the original on 2021-04-28. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
  3. ^ Casting officials are seeking extras for film, Statesman Journal, February 9, 2007, p. C3, retrieved November 16, 2013
  4. ^ State uses incentives to lure film industry, Statesman Journal, November 17, 2008, p. A1, archived from the original on November 16, 2013, retrieved November 16, 2013
  5. ^ Tom Hallman Jr. (March 23, 2007), Our rain needs a stand-in? That's showbiz, The Oregonian, p. A1, archived from the original on June 10, 2015, retrieved November 16, 2013
  6. ^ Untraceable (DVD (region 1)). Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. 2008. OCLC 192075566.
  7. ^ Untraceable at Rotten Tomatoes
  8. ^ a b "'Untraceable': Film revels in torture porn it condemns". Northwest Herald. 2008-01-24. Archived from the original on 2008-08-19. Retrieved 2008-01-25.
  9. ^ Long, Tom (2008-01-25). "Grisly 'Untraceable' embodies what it pretends to expose". The Detroit News. Retrieved 2008-01-25.
  10. ^ Neman, Daniel (2008-01-25). "Torture porn genre gets 'Untraceable' treatment". inRich.com. Retrieved 2008-01-25. [dead link]
  11. ^ Newman, Bruce (2008-01-24). "'Untraceable': Streaming horror". San Jose Mercury News. Archived from the original on December 29, 2016. Retrieved 2008-01-25.
  12. ^ Mastrantonio, Rilio (2008-01-25). "Untraceable". Hollywood Snitch. Archived from the original on 2011-07-12. Retrieved 2008-01-25.
  13. ^ Hornaday, Ann (2008-01-25). "'Untraceable': Snared In Its Own Sordid Trap". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2012-11-04. Retrieved 2008-01-25.
  14. ^ "Diane Lane helps add life when script grows cold". NewsOK. January 25, 2008. Archived from the original on February 22, 2014. Retrieved January 25, 2008.
  15. ^ Ebert, Roger (January 24, 2008). "A Web killer's site has dead streaming video". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on May 7, 2011. Retrieved January 27, 2011 – via RogerEbert.com.
  16. ^ Travers, Peter (February 7, 2008). "Untraceable". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 29 January 2012. Retrieved 30 April 2012.

External links[edit]