23 June 2015

Stephen King's SECRET WINDOW


German Title:
Das geheime Fenster

USA, 2004
Director: David Koepp


Although Johnny Depp's career sky-rocketed to the absolute top of the a-list after the first "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie in 2003, he has made so many odd role choices since, and he also had so many box office bombs since, it's hard to take this once-so-praised actor seriously anymore, which is obviously a fucking shame (I hope he finally recovers with the upcoming "Black Mass"...). One of his oddest, yet most interesting choices of the last 15 years was starring in the movie adaptation of an old Stephen King novella ("Secret Window, Secret Garden"),
just a few months after "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" wrapped.

Written and directed by David Koepp ("Stir of Echoes", "Jurassic Park 1-3"), "Secret Window" follows the writer's-block-suffering mystery writer Mort Rainey who one day gets threatened by a mysterious stranger who calls himself John Shooter and claims that Rainey has stolen one of his short stories, changed the ending ("I can't decide what's worse: stealing my story or ruining the ending.") and published it under his own name. While Rainey desperately tries to prove that he is the rightful originator, Shooter becomes more and more violent and aggressive, quickly turning Rainey's life into a horrible nightmare.

The original story (one of four stories in King's novella collection "Four Past Midnight") is a dark and tense story that suffers from a weak ending. The movie adaptation is a solid horror-thriller that stays pretty close to its source. It may be a tad too long (96 minutes - IMO 75/80 minutes would have been enough) and is often a tad too comedic, but thankfully, Koepp DID got the ending right, turning King's weak epilogue into an unexpectedly stunning final bang
incl. a cool nod to "Children of the Corn".

Depp is great and delivers a versatile performance, at times haunting, at times silly, but fortunately never too over-the-top. Love his couch-potato-look and his hair that look like you could use it as a feather duster, and he also delivers many really hilarious lines ("I killed a mirror... and my shower door."), as well as two of the best, most powerful final lines ever:

"You know, the only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story, the ending. And this one... is very good. This one's perfect."
 "I know I can do it," Todd Downey said, helping himself to another ear of corn from the steaming bowl. "I'm sure that in time, every bit of her will be gone and her death will be a mystery... even to me." 

Yet, John Turturro gives an even more impressive performance as Depp's creepy counterpart, making you uncomfortable whenever he appears on screen (Tell me, why did't he won an Oscar yet?) A gorgeous Maria Bello, a very solid Timothy Hutton and a highly entertaining Charles S. Dutton round out this fine cast.

Aside from several unnecessary scenes and the above-mentioned 'over-length', the movie's biggest problem is its plot twist. In 1990, when King's story was published, this kind of twist felt fresh and was a huge surprise, but in 2004, filmmakers already have overused it (though not as much as in 2007 when Joel Schumacher bored us with the same twist in the underwhelming "The Number 23"...), so here in "Secret Window", it's really easy to predict (you probably figure it out within the first 15-20 minutes) and comes off as unoriginal and slightly annoying.

Still, "Secret Window" is a neat little chiller that every fan of Depp and/or King should check out. It's worth it!

Wiki ~ Imdb

Oh btw, in one scene, the movie pays tribute to René Magritte's famous painting "La Reproduction Interdite" (= Reproduction Prohibited, or: Not to be Reproduced):

Also, in one scene, Hunter S. Thompson's novel "The Rum Diary" is visible lying on a table. In 2011, Johnny Depp starred in the film adaptation
of "The Rum Diary"...


  1. I really enjoyed this film! (and Stir of Echoes, too)

    A bit of useless information for you...

    The book on the shelf in Magritte's painting, is a copy of Edgar Allan Poe's only complete novel : 'The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket'.

    1. It's a cool flick, but omg, "Stir of Echoes" is much, much better IMO

      Thanks for the information, I had no idea!

  2. I remember seeing this in the cinema after POTC came out as we were all in a Johnny Depp phase (the one and only time that has ever happened to me). I haven't seen it since although I do remember Depp's crazy hair!

    It was decent enough at the time but it sounds as thought is hasn't aged well, or at least doesn't feel fresh and new

    K :-)

    1. The crazy hair are actually the best thing about it ;-)))

      It's a fun flick, well written and directed. I'm not sure if it has or has not aged well though, since I've just seen it for the very first time.

  3. I missed this in theaters but enjoyed it about as much as you did on home video. Not a perfect movie but certainly an entertaining one.

    1. Indeed, it's a superbly entertaining flick.


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