Movie websites made to scare you
When your new movie includes scenes of a naked fat man crawling through barbed wire and a surgeon forced to amputate his own limb, it's understandably difficult to capture its essence in a G-rated trailer. So Lions Gate Films, the studio behind the grisly new horror film Saw, turned to the wilds of the Internet, posting an official site that's nearly as scary as the film.
The studio also produced two Saw sites that purport to be created by fans: howf---edup.net and houseofjigsaw.com a strategy pioneered with great success by 1999's The Blair Witch Project. But we're sticking to official sites as we rate the spooky Web presences of Saw and three other current and upcoming horror films.
Saw (Oct. 29)
THE TREATS This intentionally mystifying site guides you through gritty, lo-fi versions of scenes from the film (the words ''chained,'' ''voyeur,'' ''psychopath,'' and ''obsessive'' are the only recurring navigation; each taking you to a different scene). Perhaps most unnerving is the segment with a victim's-eye view of the killer in hot pursuit. Whatever you do, don't get too close to your monitor.
THE TRICKS Some may find the site too hard to navigate, and much like the ''games'' the film's killer makes his victims play, the ones here are impossible to win.
The Grudge (in theaters)
THE TREATS Like the Saw site, the Web presence for this remake of a Japanese haunted-house movie (which stars Sarah Michelle Gellar) is a videogame-style experience. Via mouse clicks, you move through the house. You can listen to phone messages, assemble puzzle pieces, open a refrigerator and embarrass yourself when you leap back from your keyboard in fright.
THE TRICKS While it's as artful as the Saw site, this one gives less of an impression of the movie it's supposed to be previewing.
Seed of Chucky (Nov. 12)
THE TREATS In the spirit of the campy killer-doll movie that spawned it, the Chucky site is more silly than scary. Highlights include a primitive but addictive game that lets you use Chucky's axe for target practice, printable masks (the ultimate cheapskate Halloween solution), and e-mailable ''announcements'' of Chucky's impending fatherhood.
THE TRICKS Like the film, the site is a low-budget effort.
The Ring 2 (Spring 2005)
THE TREATS With the sequel to 2002's haunted-videotape smash still months away, the site is a mere teaser, albeit a chilling one. The front and only page offers hypnotic television static and occasional flashes of creepy images: dead bodies, newspaper clippings, and the first film's little-girl-ghost villain. The audio track is an eerie mix of white noise and whispered phrases like ''my baby told me to.''
THE TRICKS Once you're done with the front page and the trailer, there's nothing else to see.
GRADE INCOMPLETE (stay tuned)