Secret Window, the umpteenth film based on a Stephen King novella (Secret Window, Secret Garden), shares a striking resemblance to one of King's best films, Misery. This time around, the writer is held captive in his own home by an obsessed fan who insists he rewrite the ending to one of his novels. Sound familiar? After Window's first few scenes, it seems the film is destined to be a remix of its predecessor. Yet, what we ultimately receive in Window is a clear disappointment, not because it follows a familiar formula, but because it lacks the suspense and action so prevalent in King's novels.
The fan, John Shooter (John Turturro), believes novelist Mort Rainey (Johnny Depp) has plagiarized one of his novels. Shooter shows up at Rainey's rustic, upstate New York cabin ready to inflict whatever force necessary on Rainey until he admits to copying Shooter's work. Rainey is completely unprepared to deal with the situation. Rainey is struggling to come up with an idea for his latest novel and is dealing with the pain of his pending divorce to wife Amy (Maria Bello). When bad things start happening, Rainey immediately suspects Amy's home-wrecking boyfriend Ted (Timothy Hutton) could be the mastermind behind the madness. Rainey hires a private investigator (Charles S. Dutton) to sniff around the town, patrol his cabin at night, and conduct the investigative work Rainey himself is too lazy to do.
Rainey's sluggishness is a serious blow to his credibility and to the suspense of Secret Window. For half the film, we're witness to Rainey's monotonous routine of sleeping and eating, followed by smoking and sleeping some more. If this is an indicator of a novelist's life, then it's a very sad and pathetic existence, a message which Window clearly relays (as if we didn't get it from other King films).
When Shooter starts threatening Rainey's life, he shows little interest in resolving the situation and instead resorts to his old standbys. There is no suspense in this. In Misery, our hero takes action against his Number One Fan; in Window, Rainey can barely manage enough energy to get out of bed. He's so lethargic that he cannot even find the time to sign his divorce papers. His indolence is exhausting - where's the action? I lost interest somewhere in the middle of this film.
Window's big twist, if you're awake to see it, may help explain its tedious beginnings, but I didn't buy it. In Rainey's final monologue, he preaches that the ending is the most important part of the story. Clearly, there is no importance put on the ending of this film, and I would add that the inclusion of a surprise ending is no compensation for sloppy storytelling. I won't spoil the corny conclusion; however, I will tell you that what happens does not come as a complete surprise, especially when you consider the film's opening scenes.
Depp looks the disheveled writer's part well, but there is no exhibition of his talent here. His current popularity will draw people to this film, even if it is only to watch him sleepwalk through his part. As the villain with a Southern drawl, Turturro is more comical than he is frightening. Kathy Bates' Annie Wilkes could eat him for lunch.
Now there's an idea, Mr. King.
On DVD, a commentary track, four deleted scenes (check out the extended shot of the final scene... extra gore!), and various featurettes round out the disc.
Not very secret note on the secret window.