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Overall Rating

Awesome: 8.57%
Worth A Look31.43%
Average: 25.71%
Pretty Bad: 14.29%
Total Crap: 20%

2 reviews, 23 user ratings

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Fear X
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by EricDSnider

"A great first two acts of a movie, and then a bad third act."
3 stars

Two-thirds of "Fear X" are a quiet, atmospheric psychological drama whose dread-inducing style holds a viewer's interest even though the events unfold slowly. The cards are being laid out so masterfully that you're sure the film has a good hand. Alas, in the last half-hour, you realize it's been a bluff, and the resolution is painfully ordinary. The film doesn't live up to the expectations it produces.

But for 60 minutes, what a swell ride! Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn, in his English-language debut, uses a somber, deliberate pace to tell the story of a man named Harry (John Turturro), a mall security guard whose wife was randomly murdered in the very mall where he works. The police cannot find the murderer, so Harry sets out to. Obsessively, he watches surveillance tapes, finding subtleties we wouldn't and patterns that may not exist. He also struggles with dreams, visions and hallucinations, all leading him to the house across the street from his, and thence to Montana in search of a woman who may hold answers.

There is a distinctly "Twin Peaks"-ish feel to everything, the sense that there's something happening beyond what we're seeing, and it's extraordinarily effective. The dialogue is vaguely stitled and unnatural, the performances just slightly off -- and it seems intentional. Refn (working from a script he co-wrote with Hubert Selby Jr.) wants uncertainty and moodiness, and he achieves it brilliantly.

However, if there is no payoff, then it is all for naught. And there is no payoff. The discovery of the killer's identity is downright disappointing, and Harry's own realizations about things aren't nearly as momentous as he thinks they are. Turturro's performance is fine, to be sure, but there's nothing here. With a better third act, this would be a 5-star movie. As it is, it's three.

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originally posted: 03/18/03 18:55:30
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Edinburgh Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Edinburgh Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

1/17/09 Shaun Wallner Thought this was a good film. 4 stars
9/07/07 Michael Mullen Confusing Yes, Strange Yes, But Well Acted! 4 stars
9/03/07 Bob B Waste of a Sunday might 1 stars
12/28/06 Jab Good acting (Turturro), but there is no direct idea - just slow motion, stupid end... 1 stars
7/07/05 Indrid Cold Like David Lynch, Refn is a master of sound and imagery but weak when it comes to the story 4 stars
5/25/05 Tim Damon If you like style, this film is for you . . . substance is conspicuous by its absence 2 stars
3/28/05 Larry I should have cleaned out my sock drawer. 1 stars
3/09/05 Goodoldm Killed by the director 1 stars
2/14/05 albert James Remar is excellent 4 stars
12/05/04 Ken Challenging (in a good way); stylised; great acting 4 stars
11/06/04 Pat way too slow and boring for me 2 stars
10/04/04 joe blow awesome 5 stars
9/20/04 Matthew Deb Not intellectually demanding, just pretention masquarading as art 2 stars
9/19/04 sehryn I loved this movie till near the end Then I became confused and finally annoyed 3 stars
9/16/04 Ace No good 2 stars
7/04/04 cory peters a load of ballbag 1 stars
1/02/04 Dafydd Thomas blinding 5 stars
11/09/03 Glenn Cook Brilliant and masterful piece of artwork, not for the intellectually lacking though. 5 stars
10/31/03 Markus R a ridiculous exercise in stylish nonsense 2 stars
6/25/03 Michael E. N. Larsen well acted, well directed, poor ending 3 stars
5/14/03 ava the worst film i have ever seen,a total waste of money and time.Painfully slow,just bad 1 stars
3/26/03 mr. Pink I agree with Mr. Tinkles, that it trails off in the third act. 3 stars
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