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Overall Rating
3.27

Awesome: 12.5%
Worth A Look: 31.25%
Average36.61%
Pretty Bad: 9.82%
Total Crap: 9.82%

6 reviews, 76 user ratings


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Secret Window
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by EricDSnider

"Yet another film enjoys the benefits of being Depp-utized."
4 stars

If you're not tired of hearing people go on and on about Johnny Depp, let me ramble just a little about how glad I am that he's apparently decided to start doing more purely commercial, mainstream films. He's always been a reliably quirky performer, but he seldom appeared in anything resembling a blockbuster. Now that things like "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "Once Upon a Time in Mexico" are no longer beneath him, we're able to see him more often (and in more theaters), and the movies are better for having him.

No one disputes he was the best thing about "Pirates," and those who saw the insanity that was "Once Upon a Time in Mexico" recall him being a stand-out there, too. Now here's "Secret Window," a deliciously pulpy thriller in which Depp plays an author tormented by a man accusing him of plagiarism. Both Depp and the character, Mort Rainey, have a snarky insouciance about them, even in the face of mortal danger. It breaks the tension into laughter, which could be considered a bad thing in a thriller, but honestly, how scared were we gonna get? With Depp, it becomes equal parts comedy and suspense, and the mix is nice.

Mort is a successful Stephen King-ish author (not surprising, given that King wrote the story this is based on) who is currently going through a less-than-amicable divorce from his wife Amy (Maria Bello). She's taken his city house with her new boyfriend Ted (Timothy Hutton), so Mort's exiled to their homey cabin in upstate New York, where he spends as much time napping as he does writing.

It is the cabin where Mort is visited by John Shooter (John Turturro), a Mississippi redneck who claims Mort's short story "Secret Window" was stolen from him and, what's worse, that Mort screwed up the ending when he stole it. Shooter says he wrote his in 1997 -- a-ha! Mort can prove his was published two years before that, meaning that if anything, Shooter copied Mort, not the other way around.

But Shooter is not the sort of fellow to be dissuaded by something as simple as chronology. He begins to harass Mort in traditional movie-stalker fashion, i.e., his actions become increasingly menacing but only vaguely illegal, leaving the victim with no help from the police. In this case, the town sheriff (Len Cariou) is too old and good-natured to understand something as devious as this anyway, so Mort enlists the aid of his lawyer (Charles Dutton) to help him keep his cabin safe.

Hints are dropped delicately about Mort's previous run-ins with crazy fans and, apparently, with allegations of plagiarism. We are also privy to more than a few remarks about the dissolution of his marriage and the things that led to it. Some of these are only red herrings, but some do figure into the final twist (which is rather ordinary and not terribly surprising).

Like most Stephen King stories, this one taps into a particular emotion and finds ways to make it frightening. In this case, it's a writer's anguish over wrong choices, both literary and personal, that serves as the springboard for horror, and King exploits it well.

The screenplay was adapted and directed by David Koepp, who has previously written such enjoyable fare as "Jurassic Park," "Panic Room" and "Spider-Man." His track record demonstrates he knows his way around a story, and that he can write something with mass appeal without being stupid.

"Secret Window" fits exactly into that pattern of respectable, honest fun, and Depp knows just how to play it. It's not a great film, simply because there's so little to it, but darned if it's not a fun couple of hours.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=8819&reviewer=247
originally posted: 03/13/04 05:56:10
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User Comments

9/18/15 lautreamont standard fare; worth watching for depp's take on solitude 4 stars
8/08/10 Paulie Walnuts Thought it was decent. I didn't guess the ending right till the end. 4 stars
5/13/09 Namrata The movie was predictable,even boring in some parts. But Johnny Depp was outstanding. 3 stars
12/01/08 Roz For once I was rooting for the bad guy! A good weekend flick 4 stars
11/26/08 Shaun Wallner Depp is a great actor. 5 stars
7/11/07 fools♫gold Not a bad watch. 3 stars
3/09/07 cokehead awesome movie, one of the better stephen king movies. 5 stars
2/25/07 William Goss Predictable, tedious; Depp's better than it deserves. 3 stars
12/28/06 David Pollastrini not great, not terrible 4 stars
10/17/06 samantha fleming it is sooo good johnny is so hot in it 5 stars
7/20/06 R.W.Welch Sort of twist on The Shining but doesn't deliver the same level of suspense. 3 stars
1/02/06 cody a ok movie with great perf. by johhny depp, decent story with twists, confusing at times 3 stars
12/19/05 Bree Not necessarily scary, but hilarious. Timothy Hutton was underused. 5 stars
11/23/05 Sully Guessed the ending 20 minutes in....this flick is a total piece of shit 1 stars
11/13/05 Quigley could have been more suspenseful and scarier with less sappy dialogue, but depp saves it 4 stars
10/31/05 missjie86 Johnny Depp's character slept through most of the movie...and so did I. 2 stars
9/03/05 tatum Depp outshines the average material 4 stars
8/23/05 sbpat21 pretty good, the music is great 4 stars
2/19/05 J King is write on target! 4 stars
2/14/05 Angela Saunders Twisty and entertaining! 4 stars
2/12/05 Ig Liked the book better, but still entertaining 4 stars
2/09/05 nannette ryan I read the book and found it to be much better then the movie 3 stars
2/02/05 BobbysRedQueen I LOve Johnny Depp but the movie was silly 3 stars
2/02/05 Casey Becher I LOVED this movie! I was completely surprised by the ending! 5 stars
1/30/05 axe I sure wouldn't give 2 hours to a book this lame 2 stars
1/29/05 Lisa Clarizio Top notch Stephen King movie adaptations 4 stars
1/25/05 Phil M. Aficionado Only Depp could get this film up to average; otherwise, hokey and goofy 3 stars
1/22/05 Tjalda L. Schiel Johnny Depp, awesome. Movie, terrible. 3 stars
1/17/05 Roy Smith Again In never want to read how predictable the ending to the Village was evert again after this 3 stars
12/23/04 goat farmer starts out well then takes a wrong turn and - wipeout! 3 stars
12/21/04 Vince Koepp is fortunate he managed to get Depp on board 4 stars
11/11/04 beauty is nice not bad, not great, a watchable average 3 stars
10/15/04 victor absoloutly with outta doubt this is a great movie 5 stars
9/08/04 JeffK Watchable 3 stars
8/28/04 capitalbliss Thank goodness Johnny Depp was in this film because he really made it watchable! 3 stars
8/23/04 Heather I thought it was awesome. I loved it 5 stars
8/10/04 Samuel Just okay. 3 stars
8/05/04 Chris movie had my attention but the ending was pretty disappointing. i have mixed feelings. 3 stars
8/05/04 KR Good atmosphere, but anyone shocked by the ending didn't see Fight Club/A Beautiful Mind 3 stars
7/30/04 leon trotsky Yeh, Johnny Depp rocks. The movie was predictable and not terribly well-written. Blah. 2 stars
7/24/04 terrance Oh my god i sat thru two hours of hell in that movie theater 1 stars
7/23/04 Jannet Kwan This is a movie with a twisted ending so get ready for the shocker! 4 stars
7/20/04 the man a crazy, but a must see... i loved the ending.. 5 stars
7/14/04 Joe Bayes I ignored the obvious solution 'cause it was lame. Guess lameness doesn't bother Mr. King. 1 stars
7/06/04 JV *SPOILER* Can you say... Fight Club?? 4 stars
7/03/04 jcjs slow but nice, no flapping roof shingles like shown in the previews, i hate that...it drags 4 stars
7/03/04 J This movies is WACK!!! *** out of 4 4 stars
6/26/04 Alex Depp saves this otherwise average movie 4 stars
6/22/04 S.F worth a watch. 4 stars
5/26/04 Gretchen Ross I liked this film up until the ending. it was so bad it made the whole movie awful. 1 stars
5/12/04 Marcia Lartz Slick-appearing thriller until it falls apart when multiple Johnny Depps appear on screen. 2 stars
5/06/04 M what the fuk was that??? BORINGGGGG 1 stars
4/28/04 Chaske Faulk awesome thriller 5 stars
4/13/04 Boris Not bad. The last act was disappointing, though 3 stars
4/11/04 john bale Tuturro & Depp play it well in this King Thriller, versatile camera and music help the mood 4 stars
4/02/04 movieboy Really good never would have suspected the ending 5 stars
4/02/04 Obi Wan I felt cheated...Depp is Hit or Miss, no getting past it! 3 stars
3/27/04 Mazz Freaky twist, great thrills, Depp is awesome and Turturro is frightening. 5 stars
3/26/04 Vikki Fox a good thriller 5 stars
3/26/04 Amy Creative movie with a shocking twist (well, if you haven't read the book at least!). 5 stars
3/24/04 Kev Terribly predictable movie with Depp as it's saving grace. 3 stars
3/23/04 Agent Sands The ending is a surprise, but once it's there, we know how it'll wrap up. Nice & scary. 4 stars
3/23/04 Bruce K. Very disappointing with a lousy ending. Everything didn't make sense. 2 stars
3/23/04 DrDanny Turturro and Dutton are also quite good here, but overall Depp is the reason to see it. 3 stars
3/21/04 alex not an average thriller, but I liked it. not a cliche ending 4 stars
3/21/04 McBain Not terrifying, but still entertaining enough for the price. Depp great as always. 4 stars
3/21/04 Jiz Nice "surprise," only 500 other movies that use it. Depp = whole movie = good enough. 4 stars
3/20/04 basilsmom depp is amaziing, carries the pic all by himself 4 stars
3/19/04 Cary Gordon Depp helps keep this film together, but much of the plot is so telegraphed throughout. 3 stars
3/19/04 Teresa Williams Love Stephen King. Had my doubts about casting of Depp, but was pleasantly surprised! 4 stars
3/17/04 jasmine entertaining == if johnny depp is in it, go see it 4 stars
3/14/04 Ray Depp sure kowns how to make a movie entertaiment 4 stars
3/14/04 Carole M Johnny is awesome and carries this intriguing thriller. Interesting camera work and setting 4 stars
3/14/04 johnnydepplover this movie rocks... hotness 5 stars
3/13/04 michaelb14 actually a darker ending than the SK novella, pretty good 4 stars
3/13/04 James Kustes A mish-mash of Stephen King's past work, with Depp as the saving grace 3 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  12-Mar-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 22-Jun-2004

UK
  N/A

Australia
  08-Apr-2004


Directed by
  David Koepp

Written by
  David Koepp

Cast
  Johnny Depp
  John Turturro
  Maria Bello
  Charles S. Dutton
  Timothy Hutton
  Len Cariou



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