People often feel an irrational need to search for answers in the face of an unexpected tragedy in their lives. However, Harry Cain (John Turturro) is carrying this tendency to the extreme. Harry, a security guard at a mall, lost his wife Kate (Deborah Kara Unger) in a seemingly senseless shooting in the mall’s parking garage. With the culprit still at large, Harry spends all his free time scanning through security camera tapes, looking for clues and poring over the few shreds of evidence he does have, trying to piece them all together. In an amazing coincidence, he eventually receives a vision, apparently just in time for this picture to start, of his wife approaching the house across the street. This prompts him to do some snooping around inside the vacant domicile where he finds some negatives. When developed, the resulting pictures lead him to a small Montana town where Harry eventually comes face to face with his wife’s remorse-filled killer, Peter (James Remar).
“Fear X” is a tedious, snail-paced mess. Director Nicolas Winding Refn’s film offers up a whole range of tantalizing pieces to the mystery. For instance, we learn that Harry and his wife have been to the same Montana town before. Then there are the government agents who introduce the possibility that Kate had a secret life. That sort of thing.
Yet, these are all merely red herrings; misdirections left dangling and unexplained in the wind. Which is probably just as well, given that Refn has a hard enough time stringing together the minimalist and stunted plotline he does choose to develop.
Turturro struggles mightily to carry this anvil on his back, but he’s simply overwhelmed by the film’s lazy writing, flat and uninspired photography, and a story that’s completely devoid of energy or charisma. Refn appears to be trying to create a moody and deliberate psychological thriller. Instead, “Fear X” does a burn that’s so slow, the match keeps going out…not that this flame lights up anything by the end of the film anyway.