Omega has just completed its new suspense thriller ".com For Murder".
Written and Directed by Nico Mastorakis, this will be the "Rear Window" of the eGeneration.
For the story and the high-tech style of this suspenser, read the Director's interview and the story synopsis.

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AN INTERVIEW WITH THE DIRECTOR
OF ".com FOR MURDER"




A brand new thriller is now a smash hit at Omega Entertainment. This time, director Nico Mastorakis who revolutionized the “low budget” concept in the eighties with features like “Blind Date”, is using the Internet as his canvas and digital technology as his brush, painting distorted, warped and disturbing images in a suspense story that could be “the 'Rear Window' of the eGeneration”.

“Good story,” says the award-winning director, “will never die, despite the tempting goods technology throws in our lap. Although we labored to find the best means for expressing the narrative visually and digitally, we spent much more time plotting and writing this three person suspense drama.”

For one, the villain in '.com For Murder', is not your ordinary deranged killer. Driven by obsessive romanticism and a lost love -- which may or may only have existed in his imagination -- he assumes the identity of Werther (Goethe's tragic hero in “The Sorrows Of Young Werther”), combining his passion for gadgetry with his bitterness at being a mere accessory in this high-tech world.

“My Werther,” says Nico, “is the sacrificial lamb of a galloping technology. He escapes his violent nature by delving into a world of poetic words as written by the German master. He talks Goethe, breaths Goethe, justifies his paranoia with romance and takes human life with the casual pain of self-suffering. As such, he creates an escape portal from his own deeply felt torment.”

Described with the ad line “In Cyberspace No One Can Hear You Scream,” the movie tells the horrors of being alone and lost in the Internet. “It's both a world and an underworld in and of itself” says Mastorakis of the complex web society he set his dark thriller in. “The web is no longer about e-mail and chat rooms, it's a multi-layered universe of minds, and some of them are not only criminal but highly capable of killing with no hesitation and from afar. Sondra, my heroine, initially feels safe enough to pick a fight – live on line – only to find herself in a hellish voyage of no return. The guy she thinks is some zit-faced kid, turns out to be a skilled hacker who tracks her down and delivers the most frightening night of her life”.

To realize his vision, Nico Mastorakis decided to use a hybrid of conventional film and digital technology, not only to finish the picture, but to shoot it as well. “Visionaries of grand scale like George Lucas have not only paved the way for other film makers,” says Nico, “but have also given us license to expel our prejudice against digital video as an artistic means of expression. I am using the same technology Lucas is using in 'Episode II', but instead of seeking the wonders of higher definition, I go the other way: Low-def, blurred, undefined, jagged, and frighteningly real digital images which, on the big screen, create confusion in the viewer's mind. In an explicitly shot murder scene, for instance, the viewer never quite sees enough: It's all in the killer's virtual visor and Sondra's computer screen, pixelized, grainy and drained of color. This gives it a nightmarish look, a “visual doubt” if you will, which suspends the audience's disbelief – “No, this can't be happening” – a disbelief identical to Sondra's.

“Contrary to 'Blairwitch', we had to balance our visuals between the well-defined world of a high-tech home, full of plasma screens and elegant furnishings, and the obscured images our killer transmits via the Internet. These images represent his blurred vision of the horrendous acts he commits and are in total contrast with the superficial world that he violently penetrates. From the beginning, I saw the whole thing as 'an electronic rape' and wanted to merge the two worlds in a way that would both be equally credible and also equally frightening. So, this movie will be shot with a number of different cameras – a large number, actually. While conventional film cameras shoot the action, often in blue background, digital cameras shoot the background for later compositing. It's a new, disorientation effect that will emphasize the bizarre visuals occurring inside the heroine's head. Security cameras shoot (on DV for later playback) all the action, as observed coldly and mechanically by their watchful, objective lenses. Then we use a variety of mini DVs to shoot the web sequences and even miniature cameras placed on the actor's head to shoot his POVs. We sometimes light with “black light” and also use passive light intensification and infrared. And we've created virtual sequences on CD Rom for real-time playback on the computer screens. In reality, “.com For Murder” was shot by six different units and I had to orchestrate them all as one”.

The result, Mastorakis was, was a bonanza of imagery which, despite its complex origins, simplified the way the audience views the movie.

“I need to get the audience in and out of the web seamlessly,” emphasizes Nico, “without disorienting them. Sondra should be disoriented by the constant transition between reality and virtual reality, but the audience, kept on the edge of their seat, shouldn't be made aware of the technical complexity. As in all carefully used gadgetry, ours too, produces simplicity and entertainment in a single, tightly wrapped package. After all, this is a character-driven thriller that plays more on inner fears than with the intricate technology used to illustrate those fears”.

“Like Coppola's 'Dracula', we also didn't expect everything to be 'fixed in post', so played constantly with light, shadows and real, on-camera effects. We've mapped out the de-colorization shots and all the effects that were added later with digital compositing. We mixed and matched film with digital seamlessly on hard drives and then took the end result back to film for the finished product.”

As for working with the talent he picked, Mastorakis describes his relationship with Nastassja Kinski as “equivalent to chewing razor blades”, her co-star Nicollette Sheridan “a professional actress” while he expresses his delight for having Roger Daltrey and Huey Lewis in the movie. “They were a pleasure to work with and a thrill to be directing such legends” he says.

'.com For Murder' had its first screening at the Zanuck Theatre on the 20th Century Fox lot, where even Nicollete Sheridan watched the movie with her eyes closed half the time. “I had read the script, I had played the part, yet it scared the living daylights out of me” she said.



.COM FOR MURDER
Story synopsis

When SONDRA BRUMMEL, early forties, sees her boyfriend BEN SCHNEIDER off for the weekend, she's left in the capable hands of his elaborate computer system “Hal” which controls the entire estate. Stuck in a wheelchair with a broken leg, Sondra's soon bored and finds herself accessing American Love On Line, a popular chatroom promising romantic encounters. Using Ben's screen name, she checks up on her boyfriend and discovers he's been chatting it up with a sexy flirt known as “Crème Brulee”. Sondra tries to find out more, but is suddenly interrupted by a hacker calling himself WERTHER who assaults the screen with letters dripping in blood and shocking three-dimensional hissing cobras. “Every room is mine,” Werther warns. “I am Master of the Game.” Sondra's about to respond when her sister MISTY, 25, arrives and the two taunt Werther whose response is chillingly simple: “You both die.”

Taking his moniker from Goethe's novella “The Sorrows of Young Werther”, Werther lures twenty-five year old LYNN, (Crème Brulee), to meet with him at her place. As the terrified Sondra and Misty look on via a live-feed webcast, Werther pays a late-night visit to her house, slips into her bedroom and places a cold, gloved hand over the mouth of the sleeping Lynn. Her horror-filled eyes catch a last glimpse of Werther's shiny steel scalpel!

Sondra and Misty are numb with horror. Having no control over the events unfolding on screen, they helplessly watch Werther murder Lynn in a cold, ritualistic manner. When the webcast cuts to black, Sondra and Misty freak out, unsure where to turn, who to call. Ben's cell phone is out of range, and when Misty calls the police they offer little help, directing her instead to agent DEREK MATHESON, 40s, of the FBI. Matheson has them send him the file they saved off the downloaded feed, only to discover that the files are nothing but old cartoons! “It's encrypted” says Matheson. “Perhaps a skilled technician can help decode it”. Sondra and Misty call for one.

An hour later, in the drizzling rain, a car enters the secured gate system that surrounds Ben's hillside estate. As fog rolls in, a silhouetted figure emerges from the car and crosses toward the house. As Sondra and Misty roll toward the main entrance to open the door, the phone rings and a man tells Sondra that he should be arriving shortly: he's the technician they called earlier!

Misty and Sondra force the man they believe might be Werther, out of estate. They take down his license plate, then phone the incident in to Agent Matheson. The agent's perplexed: no crime's been committed so he can't investigate, but something gnaws at him. He brings up the case to his young partner MARTA WILLIAMS, who tells him about “the underbelly of the Web. The Undernet.”

Meanwhile the real Tech, ALBERT, arrives at the estate and breaks the encryption code to reveal the grisly scene of Werther killing Lynn. As Albert drives off the estate, the front gate jams and Misty volunteers to go out an open it manually. Sondra watches her cross the grounds outside when the phone rings. It's Matheson. He did a trace on the first Tech's license plate and it matches the owner of PC Maniacs, Joe Montero. The physical description matches, too. “But if he was the real Montero,” Sondra wonders aloud. “Who's Albert?!”

Outside, Misty approaches the front gate where Albert waits, and as he slowly turns around it dawns on her who he really is. Werther. Misty tries to run but he snatches her and cuffs her to the door of his car. He rigs a scalpel that slowly slices into her wrist, causing a slow, dripping blood flow like sand through an hourglass, and giving her precisely twenty minutes to live.

Inside, Sondra watches the horror unfold on her security monitors, more helpless than ever before. She gathers strength and rolls down the long corridor to lock the door, then activates the computer and shuts the gate just in time. Frantically, she works with Hal to shut Werther out of the system but it's no use – nothing works. Hal runs through various elimination options, while Matheson and Williams tear through the hills and enter the premises of a large property, guns at the ready, only to learn they've got the wrong address. Werther had jacked into their system and fed them false data.

A pool of blood fans out around Misty as time ticks down. Sondra, in the meantime, uses Hal to send 22,000 volts through the gate system that shocks Werther and sends him staggering back into the pool. Inside, through a window that provides an underwater view of the pool, Sondra watches Werther's lifeless body sink to the bottom.

Grabbing crutches, Sondra struggles and makes her way to Misty who's losing consciousness. Sondra cuts the cuffs with heavy-duty cutters then lugs the bleeding Misty back into the house.

Sondra stops Misty's bleeding just as all the lights go out. Carefully feeling her way around the dark house, she wheels to the fuse box and finds the circuits dead. Returning to the kitchen, she discovers Misty is gone. Searching the house in sheer panic she hears Werther whispering in the dark: “She's with her dying friend, ever present, ever lovely”.

With his infrared night vision visor, Werther watches Sondra awkwardly wheel herself into a bedroom. Moments later, she reappears armed with an old camera and flash which she uses to blind and stun Werther. He smirks and says “you've been watching too many movies…I've seen “Rear Window” too!”. He laughs and looks up, at the glass ceiling of the massive house, as the lightning bolts of a closing storm, strike hard. The bolts, multiplied at 60,000 times by his visor, fry his brains.

He loses his balance and stumbles, falling two stories down and crashing on the granite floor.

At daybreak, Matheson and Williams take statements and inform Sondra that there will be a guard posted until they find the body. Sondra sees the agents off while behind her the computer monitor comes to life, crimson letters scrolling across the screen: “Oh, how greedily I absorbed it all, never thinking that the way would lead here...”


The cast of this superbly-crafted thriller is a unique blend of talent and fame. Award-winning Nastassja kinski plays Sondra. Popular television actress Nicollette Sheridan is Misty. Rock legend Roger Daltrey of “The Who” portrays Sondra's suave boyfriend. And Huey Lewis, pop icon of the 80s, convincingly plays agent Matheson. Award winning writer-director Nico Mastorakis delivers a classic form psychological suspenser, spiked with digital effects and breathtaking music.