Utilizing a controlled aesthetic schema far more reminiscent of his subsequent Bronson and Valhalla Rising then the high-wire handheld style of his Pusher trilogy, Nicolas Wending Refn makes an unnerving if uneven transition to American shores with his generically titled U.S. debut Fear X. Refn’s grip on his deliberately paced, hallucinatory material – which was co-written with Hubert Selby Jr., and is indebted to David Lynch and Stanley Kubrick – is strongest at the outset, during which he idles alongside Harry Caine (John Turturro), a Wisconsin mall security cop who’s coping with the garage-shooting murder of his wife by poring over security camera footage in search of clues. Refn’s evocation of middle American banality and drudgery has a chilling authenticity, and in shots of black-and-white videos that magnify into pixilated abstraction – thus reflecting Harry’s fanatical desire for truth – the director captures a sense of hazy, harrowing obsession that’s amplified by his immaculate camera set-ups and pans. Zooms into the back of Harry’s head, alas, too quickly position the film as an it’s-all-in-his-head psychological trip of a Mulholland Drive sort, an impression solidified by a second half that has Harry travelling to Montana, where his investigation leads to a cop (James Remar) and his wife (Deborah Kara Unger). Opacity at this point takes over, and not for the worst, as Fear X’s ambiguities lend the action a nightmarish mood. Nonetheless, the film soon indulges in so many Lynchian and The Shining tropes – be it conversations between unreadable characters or Caine’s slumbering visions of elevators that open upon red-lit corridors and deathly darkness – that the material comes to feel like an homage more interested in formal cleverness than emotional or thematic depth.