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Secret Window
MR_Heraclius8 March 2020
This movie should be paying huge debts to much better psychological thrillers like PSYCHO or MISERY (coincidentally, the latter is another Stephen King book adaptation), but nevertheless, SECRET WINDOW is creepy, disturbing and haunting. Not to mention it benefits from a strong performance from Johnny Depp.
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A Writer With Problems
Lechuguilla31 January 2009
Johnny Depp plays Mort Rainey, a writer with wife problems. Mort secludes himself in a wilderness cabin to write. Soon, he gets a visit from a strange Southern mountain man named John Shooter (John Turturro). Throughout most of the plot, Mort tries to deal with this threatening man who won't go away, and confronts his wife and her new lover.

"Secret Window" is a moody, Hitchcockian thriller with a major story twist. Pacing is slow. There's lots of waiting for something to happen, which enhances a sense of foreboding. And Depp's performance is terrific.

With hair that looks like a mop, and a delightfully slovenly appearance, Mort mopes around the cabin, talks to his nearly blind dog, and tries to placate Mr. Shooter. He also spends a lot of time on the phone, mostly with Shooter and with his disconsolate wife.

Casting and acting are fine. Production design is great; love that cabin where Mort lives. Camera work, lighting, special effects, CGI, and editing are all quite good.

Although I liked the film's twist, some viewers will be disappointed with it, perhaps because the underlying idea is not terribly original. The risk for the director is that the entire story hinges on this one twist. If a viewer discovers the twist ahead of time, or finds it unsatisfying for any reason, the viewer likely will render a negative verdict on the entire film.

My only serious complaint with the film is that, at times, the plot discards logic so as to maximize gratuitous violence, the result no doubt of the film's source material, a horror story by Stephen King.

Overall, "Secret Window" is a generally fine thriller, enhanced especially by the splendid performance of Johnny Depp. Just be aware that one's reaction to this film likely will depend on one's perception of the story's major plot twist.
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More to appreciate than some people realize.
rjsuno8 June 2005
This is one of the few movies that you will either love or hate. There is no middle ground. The people that have slammed this movie must not have understood a lot of the symbolism. Seriously, some of it is obvious but a lot of it would require you listen to the Director's commentary to catch.

While aspects of the story are predictable, you will never see the last couple minutes coming. Koepp made a film that HE believed in, with a finale that may not sit well with the general public. For this, I applaud him.

As I've noted on the message board, Koepp borrowed a page from Hitchcock's book and relied on our imagination to fill in the gaps during the violent sequences. Some of it is shown but certainly not all. Without question this film tested the limits of the PG-13 rating but Koepp did not take the easy way out and turn this film into an R-rated gore fest. This film proves that PG-13 films can be gritty and poignant.

Depp's performance is amazing, as can be expected. The cinematography is awesome. Watch this film with an open mind, taking to heart each character's motivations.

If you've already seen the film I would strongly suggest you watch the Featurettes and listen to the Director's commentary on the DVD. You may find this to be quite an eye opener.

My Score: 8/10 stars
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A very well crafted and skilled psychological thriller
lopcar19937 October 2009
I've seen psychological thriller's that try to scare you more than melt your brain, this one I'm proud to say does both. It's a very, very malicious and haunting thrill machine. I t brings the very essence of how horror and Psycho thriller's are suppose to be done, not with over the top gore and CGI, but with old school conventional means.

Secret Window is as sinister as it is smart it rolls along at a very steady pace and brings more to the table than what was required. It shows you what the decent into madness and utter chaos looks like, it shows you the depth and moral ambiguities of a torn man who's lost everything. With that said you can examine the physic of the mind as it cracks under extreme and constant pressure and how your choices do affect who you help, or who you hurt. This film's pace and dark style is meant to reflect horror films of the 40's, 50's, 60's and early 70's before gore became cool but that makes this film such a joy to watch and study. And that makes it a great film, not a good film, a great film.

Johnny Depp( who was fantastic here.) gives a very eccentric and brilliant performance as the conflicted writer Mort Rainey, John Turturro does exceptionally well as the sinister and vicious Shooter and he almost outclasses Depp in this film. Charles S. Dutton does well with the few scenes he's. But the main let down and I think the reason for this film's poor reviews from critics were the bland and very lame performances of Timothy Hutton( he won an Oscar he can do better than this.) and Maria Bello, they really lowered the caliber and class of this film and forced Depp to try harder to make them look good and make there time on screen with him good, but he succeeds and they fail. But Turturro and Depp hold up strong.

Secret Window is a very Keene and captivating psychological/horror thriller that is surefire mind boggling entertainment and out of this world fun. This movie is great rainy day entertainment or any day entertainment for that matter it's just all around a fantastic and mind boggling film that makes you question the sanity of writers and the world they live in ( speaking as one myself.) it brings to question as the thoughts in our mind really our conscious or our selves just speaking out to right the wrongs doe against us It's a film that ask those questions and then you have to answer. All in all Secret Window was a sinister, malicious and thought provoking film that delivers a movie going experience like no other.
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The Most Important Part Is The Ending...And this one it great!
YoureTooMuchFun8 October 2005
This captivating thriller, based on a novella (Secret Window, Secret Garden) by Stephen King, is a true stroke of movie genius. Many reviews, make the claims that this movie is "outworn", "cliched" and even "predictable"! With these claims, I strongly disagree. The writing for this film is incredibly clever and complicated, I myself had to watch the film 2 or 3 times before I could fully comprehend all of the twists and turns that are interwoven throughout. Not a film for the faint hearted - although the majority of the violence is only implied - there are a few gory scenes, which all include a screw driver and a lot of blood. Despite how this may sound, this is not a "full on gore movie" by any means. Quite the opposite, it is a very deep psychological thriller which will leave you with a lot to think about. A truly moving performance by Johnny Depp, who plays the role of Mort outstandingly, so that you can really connect with Mort, and empathize with how he is feeling. John Turturro, another incredible actor, plays Shooter with a real eeriness,with the perfect amount of emotion and madness. A truly fantastic film, which will leave you jaw dropped (no exaggeration) by the time you reach the end. Plus Johnny Depp is gorgeous as Mort Rainey, and that can't be bad ;)
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Nothing special but made enjoyable by a fun(ny) performance by Depp and capable direction
MovieAddict201622 July 2004
"Secret Window" is another one of those eerie thrillers where danger lurks within the shadows. We can almost feel it, and so can the hero, as he walks through his house, armed with a weapon, ready to defend himself at all costs. He hears a noise from somewhere behind him, spins around, and suddenly realizes it was just his imagination. He sighs, puts down the weapon, turns around, and BOO! There's the bad guy, who has somehow managed to enter the locked home and avoid being detected. What if, I wonder, one of these times, the bad guy was seen as he entered? What if the Fisherman from "I Know What You Did Last Summer" had been spotted, and confronted, by one of the teenagers? What if Norman Bates' "Mother" had been exposed from the start? Then there presumably would be no movie, of course.

Although we know where "Secret Window" is headed quite early on, David Koepp (writer of "Panic Room" and director of the well-made "Stir of Echoes") manages to sustain the audience's interest through a series of suspenseful camera shots. Some are inventive, while others are merely fun to watch because we can guess where Koepp got his inspiration.

Mort Rainey (Johnny Depp) is a successful author who lives up north with his beloved dog and a laptop. He apparently abandons his social life, never gets a haircut, and wears quite silly-looking glasses. He has a sarcastic personality and presumably does not get along very well with the local residents, who generally keep to themselves anyway.

Mort's life is changed forever when a strange man named John Shooter (John Turturro) shows up at his doorstep claiming that Mort has "stolen" his story. Mort is handed a dirty manuscript. Within the pages are passages literally identical to those from Mort's own book, "Secret Window," published in 1994, three years before John claims he wrote his. "Secret Window," the novel, is about a man whose wife cheats on him. Fueled by rage, the fictional character murders his own wife and buries her in the "secret garden" located outside of the "secret window" of their home.

It is said that art imitates life, and through a series of flashbacks we learn that Mort's novel bears an eerie similarity to his own problems -- "six months ago" his wife (Maria Bello) had an affair with Ted (Timothy Hutton). Mort assumes that John Shooter has some sort of connection to his past, and hires a detective (Charles S. Dutton) to find the mysterious man, who always seems to appear out of nowhere when Mort is alone.

Depp's performance is the highlight of the film -- if Depp is imitating Stephen King (the author of the short story "Secret Window" is based on), he succeeds. Barely recognizable hidden underneath a layer of geeky clothing and a generally disheveled appearance, Depp once again proves that he can tackle any sort of role as an actor -- from a scared teenager who has to stay up ("A Nightmare on Elm Street") to a Hunter S. Thompson lookalike ("Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas").

Koepp, who wrote the screenplay for the film, realizes that the key to the story is Depp's performance wisely allows his primary actor to let loose. Meanwhile the co-stars all deliver fine, convincing performances and although the grand finale is a bit of a let-down, and terribly predictable, the movie's style is interesting. "Secret Window" is better than most in its genre, although by no means is it a masterpiece of any sort. Just an enjoyable Friday/Saturday night matinée, and worthy of recommendation if you're not looking for anything special.

I could criticize the "twist" of the movie and say that it has become one of the most overused solutions to Hollywood film thriller/mysteries of the past decade, but I won't spoil it, and let you decide for yourself whether it does the story justice.
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Relationship Crisis or One Nasty Divorce Story.
nycritic25 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The second novella to be adapted from the Stephen King compilation "Four Past Midnight," SECRET WINDOW is one of King's adapted stories that while not being great or especially memorable, somehow manages to tell its premise quite chillingly while maintaining itself closer to B-movie status and (equally) true to its dark core.

The story is actually quite familiar ground: Stephen King commented that while MISERY depicted a writer being held prisoner by a demented ex-nurse and rabid fan who does unspeakable things to him to ensure her favorite character, Misery Chastain, lives on, and THE DARK HALF introduces a Twilight Zone-ish take on a split personality where another author is tormented by a dangerous man, SECRET WINDOW blends both into what results in "the perfect ending" to the missing pages of an apparently plagiarized story. And while the plot is clearly clichéd within every inch of its life, director David Koepp manages to generate some good suspense which allows us to care for this poor chap Mort Rainey (underplayed by Johnny Depp who by doing so makes his character totally human) and fear the rage just underneath John Shooter (a creepy John Turturro), all the while not quite giving us everything in black and white so as to suddenly introduce a left-field turn of events. As a matter of fact, once the "twist" arrives, it seems plausible and even expected, but is even more chilling in the inexorability in which it fulfills itself.

One thing that works in Stephen King's books are his constant uses of internal dialogues which here is finally brought into a great forefront by splitting Rainey into two separate entities and having them talk to each other in a crucial scene. This only intensifies the notion that Rainey is unraveling as a person and will more than likely fall prey to the darkness that seems to be closing in. It's a technique which isn't used often when adapting his novels to movies and which tends to work against suspense, and finally, someone got it right. It never feels too long a movie even though it runs just shy of an hour and three quarters, and this is due to the deft direction. Good suspense, great psychological horror that comes through an incredibly tired plot, and that's good film-making.
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Too obvious for words unless you are daft
portia-111 July 2004
Warning: Spoilers
I make no excuse for the fact that whatever Johnny Depp does I rate highly. He has amazing depth of character acting and each role he has ever played is different and never type cast it's therefore all the more disastrous that he should lend himself to such a predictable and very obvious narrative, that said perhaps he is the film's saving grace. Within the first quarter of an hour or so it is quite clear exactly what is happening because there are so many clues right in front of your very eyes, also if you are familiar with both the work of Stephen King and this genre of film you will guess the ending in its entirety. The opening paragraph of the book 'Secret Window'that John Shooter accuses Mort of plagiarising is a giveaway, the location of the cabin is another clue and although the films tries to build up to a climax any shock is totally eroded away by literally stacks of 'in your face' scenes and one liners. When Mort tells his minder friend that he has a witness who waved to him from his truck if you listen to what that witness actually said you will know immediately how this will all end and thus for any moderately bright person the film ends right there. All this is a great pity because the film could have been so much better given the basic premise and the acting skills of Depp. As a avid film fan of all genre I am getting mighty sick of the same stuff being churned out again and again and AGAIN. It is about time that we had some originality coming out of Hollywood. The problem is that when something as good as say Fight Club or The Sixth Sense provide us with such original and excellent endings other movie makers think that it is always a money spinner just to regurgitate the same ideas but with different actors.

To those of you who have no yet seen this film by all means give it a go if only to just admire the work of Depp but I guess you will feel somewhat cheated by feeling you have been here before.
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Depp saves the day
rbverhoef23 June 2005
Director David Koepp has written some nice screenplays ('Carlito's Way', 'Panic Room') and I liked his 'Stir of Echoes'. Here he comes with a thriller based on a Stephen King novel that is not very good but has some qualities. The best quality here is another terrific performance from Johnny Depp. No matter what he does, he succeeds in making a film entertaining even when it should not be.

Depp is a writer named Mort Rainey, recently divorced because his wife (Maria Bello) cheated on him. Now he lives in a cottage near a lake, alone, writing his new book. One day a man rings his bell telling Rainey he has stolen one of his stories. Rainy is unaware of this fact and he can prove it; a magazine printed his short story a couple of years before the man, who is named John Shooter (John Turturro), claims he has written his version. Shooter wants to see this magazine before he believes it, causing quite some trouble in the meanwhile.

This is a film with a secret, something we understand pretty soon. I will not reveal it, but most people will come up with an idea and find out they are right. Even though it has a secret it plays too much like a lot of thrillers we have already seen. Interesting performances (Bello is pretty good as the wive too) and some dry humor does not change that. There is one other thing I liked. Koepp payed some good attention to what David Fincher did with his 'Panic Room' screenplay, especially with the camera. There are some great shots here and together with Depp they make sure 'Secret Window' is not wasted.
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All about Johnny Depp's hair
Chris Knipp14 March 2004
[S P O I L E R S]

I'm going to reveal a secret right away.

Who's the REAL star of the new movie, Secret Window? (PICK ONE.)

A. Johnny Depp, John Turturro, Maria Bello, Timothy Hutton, Charles S. Dutton.

B. Stephen King.

C. Johnny Depp's hair.

CORRECT: The answer is C, the hair.

(I won't tell you about the window, though.)

Johnny has always had a lot of hair -- big hair, pretty hair, bad hair, hair. But this is the first time his hair has starred in a movie. Yes, Depp himself is there, wearing a nice big pair of retro eyeglasses and a small wardrobe of shabby chic clothes, and it's Depp's casual ease – yea, even as an overwrought crazed novelist – that makes this a toney production and conceivably worth watching (if only to pass the time). But it's the hair that carries the day.

Frankly, even the lady waiting behind the line with me at the Cineplex loves Johnny Depp; his fans are legion, and are now declaring their desire to lie in his couch in the country with him and share his Doritos and ciggies.

But does that make this a good movie? No, it does not. It's a movie of some charm and smoothness, with Depp wearing his role like an old shoe, a nifty Philip Glass score, a good supporting cast, and the hair. It's only as time wears on that you realize the hair is character hair, not just Johnny Depp hair. That is, it's his hair, alright, but it's been teased and tortured to look like the hair of a reclusive slothful neurotic nutter of a crime writer who's in the slough of despond over a failed marriage and is pretty soon going to go off the deep end. It's only after he's gone completely wacko and killed a bunch of people that the hair settles down and becomes smooth, relatively normal Johnny Depp hair. The wardrobe department is no slouch and so the glasses change too.

This story is a cookie-cutter Stephen King job, and David Koepp deserves some credit for breathing life and a bit of class into yet another fevered dream about a neurotic writer with an unfaithful wife and too many personalities living in the country back east among a bunch of local yokels.

Things go a little wrong right away though, if you're looking for willing suspension of disbelief and not just a cosy couple of hours with the charismatic star, when Depp, as Mort Rainey (hard to see Johnny as a `Mort,' but he's just slumming -- chicly -- in this flick), opens the door and there is John Turturro with a very bad southern redneck accent claiming `Yew stole ma stowrie!' Mort has been separated from his wife (Maria Bello) for six months, having discovered her in a motel bed with Tim Hutton, whose Tennessee accent is much lighter and more tasteful than Turturro's. Is it because Turturro is Italian or because he's a figment of Mort's imagination that his accent is so bad? You guess. This redneck character, who's called John Shooter, wants only for Mort to change the ending of the story. He doesn't say how. In fact it's not quite clear what he wants done at first and the two men get into a wrangle over whether the claim is true or not. Mort says he can prove he published the story in a magazine before John Shooter wrote his. Meanwhile for no special reason, maybe to heat up the plot, Shooter starts doing menacing and eventually felonious and finally murderous and crazy things. First the cute little old half blind dog winds up stabbed with a screwdriver. Next Mort's big house where his wife now lives burns to the ground. Then two men are dead in a car, one of them hired to protect Mort, the other a friendly local.

There are scenes where Mort has to deal with his still friendly wife and the tiresome new boyfriend and a lawyer who's trying to get Mort to sign the divorce papers. There are scenes with Charles S. Dutton, the hired bodyguard. And there are, toward the end, scenes where we watch not one but two and then three identically dressed casual chic Johnny Depps with superwild hair talking to each other. It's then that we're in the best company. Philip Kaufman eat your heart out.

This Stephen King story is obvious in every way, though the ending – the way the story has to be changed – isn't anything that becomes obvious till it has happened, which is one way of saying King knows his job. Depp looks like walking through his part for the fun of it, sleeping through it, you might say; and maybe he took the role because they agreed to shoot in France so he could stay close to his family. But the man is such a good actor he's reasonably convincing and certainly a pleasure to watch throughout. There's something not a little Hitchcockian about his innocent-betrayed role. Imagine if Jimmy Stewart took Tony Perkin's part in Psycho and you have some idea of Depp in Secret Window. It's not the unreeling of the plot but Depp's little bits of business -- his struggle trying not to smoke, the way he shakes the phone receiver when his wife makes him mad at the other end, a convincing nervous tick of widening the mouth – that provide most of the fun, as does Turturro's patent deadpan fakery. But the material, no matter how classily delivered, somehow remains impossible to take seriously. And the other actors have too little to do: for that matter, it's all done by Depp's hair. The director, Mr. Koepp, has plenty of TV and adaptation writing experience, but he's a bit of a novice as a director of full length movies.
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chantellecasey9 March 2005
I have always wanted to see Secret Window; when a movie has such varied and mixed reviews it is always intriguing to see the movie itself and find out which side of the line you sit on. I recently viewed Secret Window with a friend from the safety of my own home. It's only a short movie, which in itself has appeal, and if it were any longer the suspense element would have most definitely fizzled away. The first hour or so nothing much happens, the story line just plods along and you wait and watch to look for anything you have missed and wonder whether the story is going to go anywhere. The first portion of the movie is not a complete failure, however, as Johnny Depp once again shines in his role and keeps the viewer somewhat interested. Once the twist kicks in, the movie takes the viewer to a whole new level. My friend and I were simply intrigued in horror. It simply is brilliant and I would recommend this to anyone who loves being taken on a journey through their imagination.
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almost as god as two previous King adaptations,The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile,
disdressed1223 January 2008
though it is a very different movie than both of those.still,i liked everything about's suspenseful,thrilling and,Johnny Depp gives a masterful performance,in my opinion.the supporting cast is also great.John Turturro,Maria Bello,Timothy Hutton and Charles S.Dutton all put in great performances.i have only seen a handful of Stephen King adaptations,but probably half of those have been unimpressive to most king movies,this one has its weirdness.nothing is straightforward or as it seems.but i felt this one had a bit more depth of character and story,which is refreshing.there are a few twists and turns and some red herrings to lead you in the wrong direction.i was kept guessing to the very end. i thought this movie was great,though like i said i didn't like it quite as much as two previous King adaptations,such as The Shawshank redemption and The Green Mile,which are masterpieces,in my opinion.still,Secret Window is a right up there.for me,Secret Window is a 9/10
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Suited for TV
AvinashPatalay8 December 2004
Warning: Spoilers
***** Spoilers ****************

Since the success of A Beautiful Mind schizophrenia themes seem to be the in-thing.

Johnny Depp plays a writer living in seclusion currently passing thorough a rough patch of divorce process. Suddenly out-of-the-blue appears John Shooter and accuses our writer of plagiarism. He demands for the changing the end of the story and give him due credit else face the dire consequences (which are followed by killing of the pet-dog, private detective and burning down the house).

Performance wise John Turturro as John Shooter stands out. Johnny Depp seems usual self.

David Koepp with successful screenplays to his credit must consider sticking to the profession he is good at.

Stephen King has great trophies to his collection - The Shining, Shawshank Redemption & The Green Mile. Would he like to add Secret Window to it? Of course not.

A story like this should be made with a simple cast and ideally suited for TV (like Carrie).
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Secret Window... The secret is you have seen this before.
juliankennedy2329 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Secret Window: 5 out of 10: I am not going to critique Johnny Depp. He is fine in this movie. And I certainly do not want the great wrath of woman, of various ages, down upon my head. Johnny Depp is a thespian God. He can do no wrong. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory never existed... (God he was awful in that.) Depp’s performance is the most entertaining thing is Secret Window. In fact with the exception of a wonderfully drawn Timothy Hutton in a supporting role, it is the only entertaining thing in the movie. The small cast is rounded out by Maria Bello (A 41 year old butterface that plays Depp’s, cuckolding, bitchy, soon to be ex-wife) and the usually dependable John Turturro who is a disaster.

This is a Stephen King adaption about a writer going over the edge. (If you saw the Dark Half which also starred Timothy Hutton this will definitely feel like familiar ground). The plot is a familiar train wreck. Depp is a writer going through a nasty divorce and suffering from writers block. There is a knock at the door and Turturro is at the door. With a southern drawl and an Amish tailor Turturro claims that Depp stole his story and has to make it right.

Ah plagiarism, that old plot twist standby which many a great horror novel is based on. (Or maybe not). Turtorro’s character quickly becomes a nasty bit of work as he kills Depp’s beloved dog with a screwdriver. (This isn’t really a plot spoiler. This is a Steven King adaptation, there are no kids in it to kill and the beloved dog might as well have been dressed in a metaphorical red shirt from the first scene.) This is where the movie officially lost me. Turturro is about as threatening as a Joe Pesci romantic comedy and if his character (named Shooter) killed one of my family members the next time he entered my property he would be renamed shot.

But the movie cannot let Depp kill Shooter... cause of a super secret plot twist so lame and so obvious that it’s no wonder plagiarism was at the forefront of the writer’s mind. To add insult to injury the movie actually feels it needs to drop hints at this shocking plot twist apparently under the assumption a portion of the audience sniffs glue for a living and didn’t figure it out within 10 minutes of the opening credits.

The only real surprise in the entire film is the strange Children of the Corn references (Turtorro’s character seems to be clearly channeling Malachi and the last scene is torn right from that mid-eighties classic.) Perhaps the film is meant to be homage to the fine Children of the Corn series... No greater faint praise could I imagine damning with.
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No Secret Here
Chrysanthepop3 June 2008
Not exactly a memorable or path-breaking movie of its genre, 'Secret Window' does manage to be fun to an extent. The story is easily predictable and there are plenty of unintentionally funny moments (which were supposed to provide thrills). It is pretty much just another thriller but the locations (especially the landscape and nature round the lake house) are very pleasing to look at and the cinematography is quite impressive, even though it's highly overdone in the end sequence. The way the 'revelation' is displayed towards the end is hilarious and overly dramatic. Perhaps 'Secret Window' would have worked better had it been more subtle. The plot holes do not provide much advantage to the film. Johnny Depp is great at what he's given to do but the role itself suffers from poor writing. Torturro is adequate. The supporting cast are just there. They don't contribute much and the actors are just okay. If it weren't for Depp and the nice lakeside view, this would be just another mediocre thriller
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Wino Forever
tedg25 March 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers herein.

According to current thinking, there are only 14 ways to fold a story inside out. Three of them seem too hard, at least I have never heard of anyone trying. King sticks pretty close to only two methods, but his genius is that he blurs the mechanics so that you suspect through the story it may be one of the more interesting methods.

That shows here. The original, ambiguous King ending is kept: Mort is crazy you see. But thankfully writer/director Koepp takes things in the interim far beyond what King does - what he is capable of.

The first scene establishes that Mort has multiple selves and experiences a trauma. That's King. Then we start the movie proper and Koepp takes over. We have the by now ordinary shot over water up to a house and in the window, then we go down the stair partway. The stairways shot is directly out of `Psycho' and in fact that starting sequence of zooming through the window to a bed was used to begin the `remake.'

Then dear friends we go directly into a mirror where the entire film takes place. In fact we see the reversal later in that same mirror when Mort sees only the back of his head. That's how a mirror would work in a reverse world, reverse.

So what's the folding? The ninth type, in fact the exact type Depp participated in with `The Ninth Gate:' the story that writes its characters. In this case, the story is the film itself. The secret window is the mirror and so on.

The question is: is the ending we see the original King ending that is `bad writing,' or is it the ending you will worry about in your dreams tonight, the one that still has to be written?

Depp makes a specialty of folded acting to support folded projects, especially for Gilliam and Burton. Watch him here as he gives you many layers of the fold without committing - until that false end - to any of them.

Koepp, by the way, wrote one of the most complex selfreferential films in history: `Snake Eyes.' Check it out.

Turtorro has been the reflected self in several projects. The ones that come to mind are `Cradle will Rock,' `O Brother,' and `Illuminata.'

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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Decent adaptation of a tough bit of material
mstomaso20 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
When I first heard that this film was in production, I was frankly very surprised. I have read all of Steve King's work, and "Secret Window, Secret Garden" was never something I felt would make an easy film adaptation. I was even more surprised to hear that Johnny Depp - an actor who rarely mis-steps - was signed for the lead. Now, add both Depp and John Turturro doing deep-south accents, and I'm afraid, you've just disappeared into a mirror through which I could never pass. Yet, here it is. And somehow, they all pull it off. Secret Window is a fairly well made and entertaining shocker, with some amazingly creepy and bizarre performances by Depp and Turturro, and some good eerie camera work and sound. That said, I will cut right to the chase - THIS IS NOT A FEEL-GOOD FILM - so don't come to it looking for straightforward fun, comedy or a happy-go-lucky story. This is hardcore Stephen King, and does not necessarily let anybody off the hook. As with many of the film adaptations of Steve King, this is a film best seen AFTER you read the original work. This film, like so many others, lacks the depth, detail and richness of King's writing, but does relate the story particularly well, and occasionally achieves a literary feel.

This film, like the original story, is a disturbing mystery dealing with the connection between unconscious thought and premeditated murder.

Depp's Mort Rainey is an odd-ball writer undergoing a painful divorce from a wife who he found cheating. He has locked himself away in their vacation cabin deep in the woods, taking long naps, smoking, and apparently experiencing writer's block. Soon enough, "Shooter" (Turturro), an obsessive sociopath fan shows up. Mr. Shooter claims that Rainey stole one of his stories, and demands that he re-publish it with Shooter's name and that he "fix the ending." In Shooter's version of the story, the protagonist kills his wife and buries her in her 'secret garden, which can be seen from the 'secret window' of their house. Mr Shooter, it seems, will go to any length to ensure that his will is carried out, and is particularly adept at connecting Mr Rainey, but not himself, to all of his dirty little deeds.

Depp plays the down and out writer well, appearing alternatingly drunk, depressed, anxious, confused, desperate and angry. Depp deserves credit for handling this very difficult role decently, however, this is not his usual flawless performance. Turturro is especially creepy as the monotone, murderous, and obsessive Mr Shooter. These two succeed in transforming every scene in which either of them appear, with the help of some clever directing and camera work, into something surreal and memorable. One of the most convincing aspects of this film is the way it shifts from the otherworldly weirdness of these two to the very ordinary lives of all of the other characters. The plot becomes somewhat transparent about 2/3rds of the way through the film, but, as with some of King's more predictable works, it's not what happens but how it happens that is interesting in the end.

If I remember the original story correctly, the 'secret window' becomes something of a metaphor for the later action of the story. This is not really explored in the film, and any non-King fan in the audience might end up wondering what the title of the film really means.

Bottom-line: Recommended for Stephen King fans, mildly recommended for non-King folks.
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Great performances in a bad movie
JuliusGryphon23 September 2004
I'm always skeptical when I hear of yet another Stephen King story being made into a movie. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy King's writing...but movie adaptations of his works don't exactly have a great track record. But, this time around I was optimistic because of the talent involved. And that talent didn't let me down. John Turturro is a consistently good actor who gives a consistently good performance. And Johhny Depp once again shows us how he can take any character and make it his own. He is able to instill his roles with incredibly entertaining personalities while still making them believable. I would almost recommend this movie solely for the enjoyment of watching Depp perform.

The problem is that no amount of great acting could save this movie. It's predictable, drawn out, and plain silly at times. And for some reason, it ends about 15 minute too late. After the final climatic scene, there is a completely unnecessary wrap-up scene that I guess answers one or two questions. But they are questions the viewer doesn't really want/need answered and it doesn't answer them in a very satisfactory manner anyway. Cutting off that last scene wouldn't help this movie...but it sure couldn't hurt.

So, if you're like me and will watch Depp in almost anything, check this out to admire his skills. Just don't expect a good movie.
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Koepp is distinctively without style
tone14311 July 2004
I suppose if you've never seen any Hitchcock,Polanski,Lynch,or DePalma,and are under 25,you might have found this film suspenseful and disturbing.If you know your movies,then you found this to have a hackneyed premise,formulaic direction,and "movie of the week" scripting.I think Koepp should stick to adapting novels for other,more talented directors to re-invent.Bad film.I gave it a 3 because it was filmed near my place.Believe me,I'd like more than anything for an American movie filmed here in Vancouver to be good,but only about 3 have,and hundreds have been shot here.Too bad.Oh yeah,the "shooter" connection-what a pathetic case of a novelist cannibalizing his own stuff:"Redrum" from "The Shining",now "Shoot Her".Lame.Should be "Shoot 'em"/"Shoot Him"(lol)
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A shameful piece of garbage
monstermonkeyhead6 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Anyone who cannot not guess who the killer is in the first thirty seconds of this movie must ride the special bus. The guy is freaking talking to himself! Who else could it be? I can't believe I wasted my time on this movie. I watched thinking, "No, him being the killer is just so stupid, it can't be true. Maybe there's some clever twist." Nope. I actually laughed out loud at the idiotic "shock" ending. Johnny Depp, after talking to himself, sees his wife's car pull up. Then all of a sudden his house is magically a mess and the word "shooter" is carved into everything- oh, except for one spot where Johnny Depp is standing where it says "shoot her." Dumb, dumb, dumb. I can hardly believe such garbage got made- especially with such good actors.
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overrated ridiculously overwrought psychothriller
DUKEJBM6 April 2004
Secret Window's tag line – "Some windows should never be opened" – is so snarkily appropriate in its unintentional damning of this ridiculously overwrought psychothriller that it's a wonder some smart underling at Columbia hasn't leapfrogged up the studio ladder by pointing it out to the powers that be. Their error is the critics' gain, though, and even the presence of Johnny Depp, as novelist Mort Rainey, can't save this film from its own unintended melodramatics. Secret Window lacks a B-movie sucker punch, and by the final reel it degenerates into a hackneyed mishmash of obvious revelations and cheap, ineffective horror theatrics despite Depp's mangy fun. There's no car crash in this one as in his current television project Kingdom Hospital and much of his recent writing – King penned it before that wayward van almost took him out of the running forever – but the film itself is an effective enough metaphor for out-of-control bs that frankly was part and parcel of King's novella from page one.
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I may be the only person who loves the hell out of this movie.
talkjawking10014 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Alright, I know most people may say it was okay or sucked. Most people agree that it was a ripoff of Fight Club, but the story was written in 89, some years WAY before Fight Club, so the plot twist was very original at the time.

This movie makes me really appreciate Johnny Depp. It shows he doesn't have to go "all out" to make a good performance. He plays just a boring, slow, tired man almost the whole movie, and still you can't keep your eyes off him. Not just him, though. All the actors are great and the story is an excellent edition of the Stephen King novella.

Although some of the points they left out of the novella hurt the movie somewhat, and the movie also changes the twist and completely turns around the ending, all for cinematic viewing purposes. As a Stephen King fan, this does suck, but as a movie lover, it freaking rocks! The movie is great, bottom line. Don't miss, and if you don't like it, try to see the movie from a different angle...and you might just love it as much as I do.
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Depp sucks in this weak and ineffectual thriller
federovsky17 August 2004
Warning: Spoilers
The only scary moment in this film is when we begin to get the creepy feeling that it's actually a load of crap – sometime around the appearance of the mouse.

There is a basic rule for sussing out crime thrillers that goes back to Agatha Christie: you can always figure out who the murderer is - it's the one who would be the most surprising. Of course, you can rule out anyone with a motive immediately, though thrillers persist in trotting out a succession of characters who might have done it. And if there is no-one who would be a surprise, then the rule is that it is either everybody or nobody. Amazing to say that this old rule is still going strong – and so transparently – in 2004.

Secret Window is a very disappointing movie and a career low for Depp, whose acting style – which by now is revealed to be more "sloppy" than "method" – leaves him mercilessly exposed to the weaknesses of the plot throughout. The whole thing is B-movie standard but with none of the style, assurance and solidity found in even lesser movies of the 40s and 50s. Depp's movements and diction are slurry and undisciplined (and annoying, like his hair), and the narrative is equally slovenly (was there any point to the scenes with his housecleaner?). The action is also largely confined to a wouldn't-it-be-lovely wooden cabin in the forest making this a non-cinematic experience but something more suitable as a half-hour TV drama.

When I saw Stephen King's name on the credits I knew the writing was on the wall (um… literally as it turned out), and indeed the old formula and the clichés kicked in from the very beginning. The lack of originality was astonishing given a movie of this supposed sophistication. We are treated to extended (and repeated) scenes of the old 'is there someone hiding in the house?' routine. No, he's not in this room… maybe he's in the next room… or the next room… or the next room… ah, it's only a mouse after all… Then his watchstrap gets caught while he is pushing the car over the cliff… oooh, will he be pulled over…? ahhh, he just got free in time… By this point we know we are not watching an intelligent film but an episode of… well just about any crummy TV drama ever made.

The denouement does not redeem anything – or explain much – of what went before. Those of us whose brains are still active are left wondering what on earth was the point of the whole 'you stole my story' thing, which was the basic thrust of the film right up until the 'revelation', but which in the end was apparently something we were supposed to forget all about. Apart from the camera tracking towards the mirror (the secret window) there were no clues as to the development of Depp's character in the first 90 minutes of the film (unless it was that annoying thing he did with his jaw, or something about that cleaning woman I missed) the ending was pulled out of a hat and we are left feeling fairly cheated.

Without Depp this film would have been nothing. With Depp it was still nothing. While I usually like Depp, he completely failed to convince or impress in this, especially in the first, middle and last thirds of the film. You can imagine the precision and intensity that any of the old school (John Garfield, James Stewart, etc) would have brought to this role.

In the past, a B-movie was a B-movie. You knew where you were.
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The ending blows it all
sanliizzet17 March 2008
Secret window is a quite entertaining movie with an intrigue story line. From the very beginning, you feel engaged and wonder what will happen next. However, the ending is very very cliché and a big let down. A promising suspense movie that blows it at the finale. I wish they worked out the ending and come up with a better one. If you noticed, the lead actress here was playing in the "pay back". There she was the lover of the hero who was betrayed by his wife. Here she plays the betrayer. A twist of faith. If nothing, Secret Window is worth watching just for Depp. Also I like Charless Dutton as always, although his role here is limited. (I don't know what is with this guy, he is so sympathetic and fills every role he is in)
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Average then, below average now
rock-me114 May 2020
The 'big twist' of the film might have surprised some people 15 years ago but today it seems very predictable now. A very standard thriller that is only saved by skillful cinematography and good performances.
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