Rated PG-13 for violence/terror, sexual content and language.
Written and Directed By: David Koepp
Based On The Novel By: Stephen King
Staring: Johnny Depp, John Turturro, Maria Bello, Timothy Hutton, and Charles S. Dutton
I don’t respond well to intimidation. Makes me feel *icky*. -Mort
Secret Window still has me perplexed, and I’m pretty sure I’m clear on what it is that has thrown me off. There are three very strong forces at work here. The mood of Stephen King, the style of writing and directing of DavidKoepp, and the character type that Johnny Depp brings to a role. This trio equals very distinct points of view and at some turns Secret Window thrived with the combination of these talented people, and in some cases it fell to pieces.
Mort is a writer who is going threw a terrible divorce. After finding his wife in bed with another man he seeks solitude in his secluded cabin to work on his next novel. Upon a plaguing depression he also finds himself confronted by a strange man who claims heplagiarized his story. The man threatens him and calls himself shooter. Mort is certain the weird guy will be gone, but he only continues to threaten and becomes even more fearful. Mort begins to fear for his life, and the lives of those he cares about.
Even when something is dark David Koepp always brings a certain jest to his writing that lightens the mood, breaking up the tension. With Depp as his lead, this was a great combination that gave the film something more than a simplistic one note scary movie. Even so there were often times the story almost felt stifled by Kings ideals. Not there is anything wrong with them, but the style and direction thatKoepp took the story in wasn’t entirely in tune with the mood and creation that King made, and sometimes the two did not work together. One minute I’m laughing and feeling the tension rise, and then suddenly the story stops and it’s eerie rather than scary or exciting.
What I thoroughly enjoyed about Secret Window was the look into a writers mind. As normal as Stephen King is referenced as, those of us that have followed his career and work are aware of the fact that he’s had issues with drug abuse and alcoholism in the past. Secret Window felt like a love story to his battle with writing and substance abuse issues. Isolation, even in the midst of human contact is probably the most disturbingly cut off feeling in the world, and evenKoepps adaptation drove that struggle home. As eccentric as Mort was, he was a very tangible character that was sympathetic. As the story progresses and that sympathy turns to empathy and you become invested in who he is and his struggle to be a writer, to deal with this strange character “Shooter”, and the distress of losing his wife and home. It’s this that makes the story tick and the end actually work instead of being a “super shock” gimmick. It felt authentic.
Even with a strange combination of mood and execution, I overall I enjoyed the movie. It wasn’t the most memorable flick, but it had a certain charm to it. Johnny Depp is really what made Secret Window feel fresh and compelling. The most impressive aspect was the ending. It was incredibly clever and left everything on a note that made me want to re-watch it again, which I needed, because the build up to that point was starting to turn anti-climatic. There were definitely some issues, but indeed, I think I liked it.
The Morton Salt at the end had me laughing hysterically.