Close the Window

By Peter Hemminger

Disappointed? No, too clinical. Crushed? Seems a little flat–pun intended, I have to amuse myself somehow. How about dashed?

“To hurl, knock, or thrust with sudden violence. To splash; bespatter.”

Yes, I would say my hopes were dashed. Thrown from the top of a cliff and dashed against the rocks below. Maybe they were bespattered too. Has a nice ring to it.

You may ask yourself “who or what could do such a thing? What kind of monstrous creation would take the hopes of a young, innocent aspiring journalist and reduce them to a grisly pile of barely recognizable remains?” More sensibly, you might direct the question at me, in which case I would respond “Secret Window, the latest Stephen King story to hit the screen.”

It just had too much potential for its own good. Johnny Depp as a deeply sarcastic writer who reads Hunter S. Thompson and Tom Robbins and quotes the Talking Heads, geeks love that sort of thing. John Turturro–the Jesus himself, the man who can pull off genuine character acting even in Adam Sandler movies–as a sinister southerner with a passion for punishing plagiarism.

I haven’t personally had dreams about this sort of thing, but I imagine there are a fair number of cinephiles who have.

Lord, if only they knew.

So where did it go wrong? To start with, there’s the lack of any suspense or foreboding. There was easily more laughter than screaming in the theatre, and I don’t mean that uncomfortable half-chuckle you use to prove to your date you’re way too manly to fear the boogie man. I’m talking about actual giggles, chortles, even the occasional guffaw.

Worse still is the entirely anticlimactic ending. It may have been fresh when King originally put it to paper, but anyone who has watched a “twist” movie in the last five years will see this one coming. You may kid yourself throughout that they wouldn’t dare stoop so low as to use that twist. That there will be some sort of über-twist that will redeem all of the movie’s glaring plot holes in one fell swoop.

Alas, it is but a fool’s hope, as Secret Window simply isn’t creative enough to follow through.

Put bluntly, Secret Window is underwhelming, unambitious, and undeserving of the talent invested in it. There was a scene early on where Depp looks at a screen of text we assume will be part of his next novel. He reads it aloud, declares it “just plain bad writing,” and deletes it all.

If only they’d done the same thing with the screenplay.

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