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Winding Refn's first English-language film is a hallucinatory, almost Lynchian thriller about a mall cop (John Turturro) who struggles to unravel his wife's murder without unraveling himself.
Having conquered Denmark with his first two films, Winding Refn confidently set out to conquer the rest of the world, pouring his own money into his English-language debut — but the film very nearly conquered him instead. Based on the first original screenplay written by acclaimed/notorious novelist Hubert Selby, Jr. (Last Exit to Brooklyn), Fear X stars John Turturro as mall cop Harry Cain, who is struggling to unravel his wife's murder without unravelling himself. Obsessively studying the surveillance-video footage that he believes holds the key to the identity of the killer, Harry becomes convinced that a decorated local cop (James Remar) and his sullen wife (Deborah Kara Unger) have crucial information about the case, sparking a deadly three-way game of cat and mouse. Progressively blurring the lines between reality and dream, Winding Refn brings a hallucinatory, almost Lynchian feel to the film, which may have contributed to its dismal commercial and critical performance. Fear X sank like a stone upon its US release two years after its Sundance premiere, and very nearly ruined Winding Refn financially in the process; thankfully, it has started to be rediscovered following the director's later successes. "A supremely elegant, meditative thriller" (Scott Foundas, Variety).