• Fear X (2003) - For patient art house cinephiles only - 5/10 (10/07/14)

    Fear X (2003)

    "Fear X" (2003) is a quite weird psycho-thriller by the highly experimental Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn who is known for other controversial art house films like "Valhalla Rising" (2009) and "Only God Forgives" (2013). "Fear X" feels like an unfinished movie that seems to offer a lot of food for thought at first contact but only leads to two possible conclusions after the almost abrupt ending. Many viewers will be disappointed by the lack of a proper conclusion while others may find exactly this aspect very creative. In my opinion, the movie lacks the detailed descriptions and out-thought storytelling qualities of comparable art house directors like David Lynch. If you are not into slow paced art house movies, you are going to waste your time. If you are honestly interested in this genre, there are other classics like "Aguirre, the Wrath of God" (1972), "Lost Highway" (1997), "Audition" (1999), "In the Mood for Love" (2000) and "Memento" (2001) you should have watched and appreciated before you venture into the more liberal territory of "Fear X".

    As for the story, I invite you to discover it by yourself and don't want to give any more details than these: A depressed security guard can't forget about the murder of his wife that happened at his workplace some time ago when the young woman was gunned down along with a police officer by an unknown in the parking lot of a shopping mall. The desperate man is still looking for any possible detail to reconstruct the mysterious murder in order to understand why his wife had to die. A mysteriously discovered photograph leads him to a place where his wife and him had been on vacation several months earlier and his arrival will create a lot of nervous tension in town.

    As a fan of the art house genre, there are several things I appreciated and disliked about this movie. The first negative aspect is that the movie has a complete absence of crime scenes. The movie would have kicked off in a much more dynamical way if the director had shown us the initial crime that is later shown on blurry surveillance camera footage only. An even bigger problem is the lack of details in the plot that could have delivered some food for thought. Apart of the two main characters, all other appearances remain peripheral even though some of them actually had some potential. Many little scenes don't add anything to the plot at all. These scenes aren't there to confuse us either or to tell us more about the characters, I feel like them being really unnecessary. As I said before, there are two ways to analyze this movie in the end but I don't want to spoil this film for you as you need to experience it on your own to make up your own mind about it. One of these two options would induct a couple of massive plot holes though which would make this film appear quite amateurish.

    The movie also has its strong points though. The movie doesn't feature too many dialogues and the actors have to work a lot with their facial expressions. This approach is experimental and intriguing and the actors and actresses actually do a very convincing job. The movie's strongest point is its bleak and slightly surreal atmosphere. This point is supported by a minimalist soundtrack by Brian Eno, a clever choice of settings including many dark rooms and the use of the colour red in many scenes and the slow paced acting and storytelling. Even though nothing really happened in some scenes, the movie got me on the edge of my seat like an atmospheric horror movie. Some surreal elements of the film also added a nice psychological suspense that turned somehow out to be the main guiding line of this film.

    In the end, this movie pretty much offers as many positive as negative points. I liked to experience this movie once but I guess I wouldn't watch it again or recommend it to many people. I felt that this movie had a lot of potential and especially the first two thirds of the film very actually intriguing but the last third and the hollow ending were a negative surprise in my opinion. This movie is for patient art house cinephiles and fans of the controversially discussed director only.

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