Harry (Turturro), a mall security guard, obsessively investigates the apparently pointless murder of his wife. Clues lead him to discover (or imagine) a conspiracy that causes a confrontation with a corrupt cop (Remar), who is either the killer or Harry's
A collaboration between Danish director Nicholas Winding Refn (Pusher, Bleeder) and novelist Hubert Selby Jr. (Last Exit To Brooklyn, Requiem For A Dream), this has obvious models Lynch, the Coens, Kubrick but finds its own distinctive approach, crawling inside the skull of an undemonstrative, obsessively observant character.
The opening stretch has a chilly, cold naturalism as widower and Wisconsin resident Harry pores over frame blow-ups. He is drawn to the abandoned house opposite and breaks in to find a significant clue: a roll of film that includes photographs of a woman (Unger) in a Montana roadside diner. Harry tracks her down, and a jarring leap of focus reveals that the woman's cop husband (Remar), about to receive a medal for distinguished service, is the killer, guilt-ridden over the accidental shooting of Harry's wife and yet also possibly a phantom of Harry's imagining.
The finale steps out of naturalism entirely, as Harry takes the lift up to a floor of his hotel done out in Shining-style red wallpaper and has an ambiguous face-to-face with the killer-cop-doppelgänger amid a shimmering sea of blood that suggests we're inside someone's mind rather than a haunted hotel.
The action is behind the eyes of the lead actors with Remar matching Turturro in his wounded strangeness. It's maddening but genuinely creepy, and marks Refn as a man to watch.