Hollis Parker hosts a late night radio program where he invites all the voyeurs and fetishists to come out and play and uses webcams to bring everyone together. Intended to be in the name of fun, things take a turn when Parker's past returns to haunt him by an unknown stalker that's hiding in the shadows. Parker has to find out what's the game that they're playing and what it is that they want before his loved ones start turning up dead.
As much as I make fun of softcore or 'erotic' thrillers that played on late night cable, the movies were enjoyable on a level beyond the raging teen hormones and bare boobage. That's not to under appreciate the bare boobage, and god willing, full frontal nudity from the women as that was a very important factor too. The movies were still entertaining; some were awful, some were bad, and there were a few that were actually decent or good. So I was kind of interested to see where today's modern erotic thrillers were going with "Strangers Online" but after watching it I can only hope it's not indicative to where they are actually at, because it was just plain bad.
I cannot tell what John Huckert wanted to do with "Strangers Online": I don't know if it wanted to be a serious thriller or if it was just a lacking softcore skin flick that was loosely strung together. Simple concept: Open up with a woman who was murdered -- jog on down the timeline a few years and see that Hollis Parker, the husbandto the dead woman in the opening, has moved on and is apparently a successful radio DJ. His show is all about voyeurism, something that's NEVER covered in skin-flicks, and he has weird callers, weird neighbors, weird fans, and weird co-workers. "Strangers Online" has so many red herrings in it that it could shit Hollandse Nieuwe, I kid you not. Literally, the movie makes everyone a suspect as to who knows the truth of the incident and who is behind all the "Weirdness" with private videos of Hollis showing up and threats being made to his new wife. And that's ultimately what the movie is about or rather becomes; Hollis trying to figure out who's stalking him and how the death of his former lover ties into these recent intrusions.
Because the main character is a radio DJ whose show is about voyeurism and all that jazz, I've began hearing ridiculous reviews calling this movie a social commentary piece about how modern technology is intruding on the private lives of people. To that, I say bull-pie. The internet, streaming videos, webcams, being video taped are a part of the story but actually doesn't comment or serve a purpose beyond being a mere plot point. Not to mention the 'secretly being taped' aspect has always been apart of erotic thrillers back when a character would receive a mysterious package that contained a tape (that usually had said character having sex on it) that they would play it on their high tech VCR. So the technology that's used in "Strangers Online" doesn't actually serve a point or a purpose other than being current with modern times. There may have been a commentary that was intended but it didn't work.
Ultimately though, the reason why I didn't like the movie is because, as I said, I couldn't tell what they were trying to do with "Strangers Online". The characters are shallow and the story is thin, there is not tension or suspense in the 'thriller' aspect, there isn't enough sex to qualify as erotic or softcore, and it's extremely campy but not in the usual fun b-movie way. The thriller aspect is a total failure so I figured this might have been going for the skin and softcore-romp angle, especially when veteran softcore actress Monique Parent popped up on the screen. (Sadly she's one of the few who doesn't show up to get naked. She does get raped in a fantasy sequence -- a pointless sequence that was oddly and uncomfortably intended to be funny.) But there isn't enough sex or nudity for the movie to qualify in either category and what is there isn't stimulating at all, so too did the erotic aspect fail.
I'm sure my opinion will be brushed off by whomever because of my fixation on the bare skin aspect of the movie, but to be fair, the movie uses that as a selling point. Regardless, it doesn't change the fact that the movie fails to become engaging with any of its elements which is what leads to its downfall. It's a tired and uninspired concept that doesn't back itself up with worthwhile characters or any sort of suspense or mystery and then it really screws itself over with a ludicrous twist in the end. About the only success this movie is going to have is playing on late night on cable for the inebriated to laugh at due to the high levels of camp, cheese, and badness.