February 07, 2005 12:00 PM

John Turturro


Underwhelmed by a pretentious Broadway play she had just seen, actress Tallulah Bankhead once remarked to a companion, “There is less in this than meets the eye.” Viewers may have a similar reaction to this murky psychological thriller.

Fear X is about a shopping-mall security guard (Turturro) whose wife was shot, along with a cop, in the mall’s parking garage. The killer has never been identified and the guard becomes obsessed with solving the case. On the job, he scrutinizes customers and looks for clues. During his off hours, he obsessively watches old security videotapes and collects index cards with data on potential suspects.

It’s a decent premise, but Fear X, directed by Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn (who cowrote the screenplay with American cult novelist Hubert Selby Jr., of Last Exit to Brooklyn fame), is less interested in solving the mystery than in tracking the obsessive despair of its protagonist. The usually reliable Turturro wears a crabbed expression and sighs frequently. While a few moviegoers may find X powerfully significant, most will simply find it zzzzz-inducing. (Not rated)

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