Rockwood Cinema Review: Secret Window (2004)

“There aren’t enough movies about writers going crazy while writing in a cabin” is what they thought when they made, Secret Window. It stars Johnny Depp, before he was a Hollywood Vampire, as Mort Rainey, a writer going through a divorce from his wife, Amy played by Maria Bello. Mort seeks solace in a cabin to submerge himself in his writing. His isolation or rather his sleep is interrupted one day by an unexpected visitor, John Shooter (played by John Turturro). John accuses him one of the foulest of accusations as a writer, that Mort has plagiarized his work.

Johnny Depp in a Not-So-“Secret Window”

Soon, it becomes clear that the unexpected visitor plans to not go away so easily and that’s when things get complicated. Without giving too much away (something the movie does quite well on its own), Secret Window could be enjoyable if it wasn’t so rife with cliches. Unfortunately, most of the movie’s potential (a pretty good cast and great wooded backdrop filmed throughout Quebec, Canada) get thrown out the proverbial “window”. Furthermore, I think Depp’s performance and the movie itself fails to instill the feelings of isolation that staying out in the woods by yourself can illicit. More perplexing than anything is that it was adapted from a Stephen King novel, arguably one of the greatest horror / psychological-thriller writers of all time. How did it manage to be so insipid?

Look familiar? This is you watching Secret Window at the cottage.

It is not without irony that a movie about plagiarism uses so many cliches, from Alfred Hitchcock to Stephen King’s own body of work. I could tell you the other movies it borrows from but it will literally give you the end of the movie on a silver platter.

The movie doesn’t have a lot of rock n roll references (in connection with whole cottagemixtape.com thing), but there is one scene where he secretly visits his ex-wife. Depp says, “This is not my beautiful house, this is not my beautiful wife…anymore.” Definitely, a Talking Heads “Once In A Lifetime” reference (as featured on Cottage Country Vol. 10.)

Johnny Depp gets crazy in Secret Window, but not David Byrne dancing-level crazy.

Final verdict, okay for a watch but for a movie whose mantra is “it’s all about the ending”, which is repeated by Johnny Depp’s character throughout, the ending is rather predictable.

Rating: / 5
Length: 1h 37m
Rated: PG-13
Best time to watch: At night or evening (not that scary, more thriller than horror)

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