Buy This Film
2004
Rated: PG-13 for violent content, adult language, and sexual content.
Genre: Suspense Thriller
Directed By: David Koepp
Running Time: 1:46
Review by: Felix Vasquez Jr.
Review Date:
DVD Features:
Audio Commentary - 1. David Koepp - Writer/Director
Featurettes - 1. A LOOK THROUGH IT
2. FROM BOOK TO FILM
3. SECRETS REVEALED
Deleted Scenes with Optional Director's Commentary (4)
Animated Storyboards - 1. Opening Titles
2. Pushing Car Off Cliff
3. The Twist Revealed
4. In the Garden
If you like this, try: In the Mouth of Madness, May, Misery, Session 9, The Dark Half, The Shining

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SECRET WINDOW

 


Mort: The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story. And this one, is very good. This one is perfect.

It's pretty much a given that in this day and age, any movie Johnny Depp is in no matter how bad it is, will inevitably be stolen by his performances and he pulls it off here yet again. "Secret Window" is a story based on real events that's happened to King many times before, thought not as far-fetched as it is here; and here it manages to take
shape in a story of psychological damage and horror. Depp steals the movie with a good performance that is a variety of creepy, eccentricity, and shocking versatility as Mort Rainey this obviously troubled man seeking to adjust his own mind through his writing.
I loved the very surreal sets of homages to artist Rene Magritte, through some surreal and excellent imagery and camera play, as Mort slowly loses his mind, and the director uses as signals to the surprise ending that I loved. The disturbing climax with Depp shows King's cleverness and his ability to still present us with closers that are both clever and intriguing, and the final moments which were not only spooky and surreal but also satisfying.

The surprise twist in the end concerning our character Mort isn't really surprising when you come to think of it in the end. It's unexpected, that's for sure, but it's also very expected, an expected twist to a story that isn't even that interesting. You'll most likely assume to your partner what the ending is at the first thirty minutes of the movie, and then in the end you'll be right. What a shame. You'll more than likely find this derivative as I did with the laughable ending which was such a horrible mimic of "The Shining" I literally started laughing, as well as the story which was basically a take off from "The Dark Half". One question came to mind when the climax of "Secret Window" finally approached. Is Stephen King starting to repeat himself?

I was honestly stunned and a bit amused when the ending finally came, because it was so derivative of past King stories. Looks like it, because this seems to follow the exact same story arc of "The Shining". Talented author wounded by past trauma may or may not be going nuts, is experiencing marital woes with under lying themes of abuse, and in the end it all comes crashing down. This also unfortunately follows all the usual clichés of a horror film; the car that won't start when you need it to, the slamming doors, dead animals, inept police force that doesn't catch on to the actual plot up until the right time. The story is hardly worthy of anything called suspense because there's nothing really suspenseful during the events happening to Mort. Not a single thing made me flinch nor did it invoke anything called tension. John Turturro is not a really believable villain, Charles S. Dutton is basically wasted as are Maria Bello, and Timothy Hutton who are supposed to have pivotal roles in the movie though they don't really serve any purpose.

A lot of the story is basically rambling with things that happen that basically have no point to it. What is the point of all of the events happening during this movie? Everything going on in this movie wreaks of self-congratulatory pointless dribble. What's the point of the dream sequences or the scene with the waterfall and Mort on the couch? Nonetheless, I never found what the point was of a lot of the scenes here to make much sense and the ultimate delivery is shorthanded and disappointing in the long run with a story that didn't make a lot of sense from the beginning. We always get the sense that the events here seem to be leading to something big, but when they do, it doesn't lead to much other than a basic surprise ending.

Johnny Depp is the saving grace of the film with a basically disturbing and utterly multi-faceted performance from a good character. While the film does have it's story flaws with senseless events, clichés galore, and wasted performances, all the while it's a creepy little King tale that won't change film history, but it will manage to entertain you for a while.

  • Also known as "Secret Window, Secret Garden".
  • Johnny Depp's line, "This is not my beautiful house. This is not my beautiful wife. Anymore.", is taken from the Talking Heads' song "Once in a Lifetime".
  • The story is very loosely based on real events in Stephen King's life where he's been confronted by people before who claim he's stolen their ideas for stories. It's a common incident among people like Steven Spielberg, King, and many other authors and filmmakers. It's never happened to me, unfortunately, but I'm putting up hope.


 

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