Based on Stephen King’s novel “Two Past Midnight: Secret Window, Secret Garden”, “Secret Window”. Secret Window introduces us to Mort Rainey (Johnny Depp), and scruffy author who is isolated in a cabin somewhere in the woods, trying to use writing as a form of self-therapy to forget the infidelity of his soon-to-be ex-wife, Amy (Maria Bello). Mort’s life is a mess, but it’s soon to become even messier. One afternoon, an ominous man calling himself John Shooter (John Turturro) arrives as Mort’s door and claims that Mort copied one of his stories. Mort is doubtful, and immediately dismisses the man. But Shooter will not be put off so easily, and he begins to stalk Mort, threatening terrible consequences if the writer does not come to terms with him, and then acting on his threats when Mort refuses to capitulate.
David Koepp the director of Secret Window also screen wrote Spider-Man, Mission Impossible, Panic Room, Stir of Echoes and Jurassic Park just to name a few.
It does kind of make you wonder about Stephen King, who wrote the short story “Secret Window, Secret Garden” that this movie was based on. King is a writer, writing about a writer doing some shady things. It just kind of makes you wonder about King’s hobbies.
The movie starts out with Rainey sitting in his car in the parking lot of a motel, where in one of the rooms, his wife is in bed with another man. He tells himself not to go back, but he does and bursts in their room, yelling and screaming at them.
We then cut to 6 months later where the mysterious John Shooter shows up at Rainey’s cabin door, accusing him of stealing his story. Even though Rainey wrote his story a few years before Shooter wrote his, he must find a way to appease the Southerner before Rainey finds out how serious he is.
The acting here is fantastic. Depp adds another to a string of great performances as Morton Rainey. He has amazing range and although he can pretty much play anybody, it seems as if this role was tailored just for him, because Depp as Rainey is just a perfect fit. The only other actor with significant screen time is John Turturro. He is as underrated as Depp had been prior to Pirates of the Caribbean. He is also a great actor, with a lot of diverse roles under his belt, and he shows us he can be creepy too as the serious Southerner John Shooter.
This is basically a Johnny Depp one-man-show with John Turturro as his enemy.
Koepp’s script is just marvelous. It’s perfectly paced, with thoroughly developed characters and some amazing twists and turns at the end. Koepps makes you get chills at the end. It’s just creepy and incredibly well-done. This definitely isn’t a movie that caters the lowest common denominator, like most movies and TV shows. Most movies and shows are written so that the people will be able to understand and grasp it. But this movie, like most of Koepp’s other works; you have to really pay attention. There should really be more movies out there like this, because it proves that movies can be intelligent, scary and funny all at the same time.
Koepp does a great job at the controls too, using some masterful cinematography from David Murphy using some very long, sweeping shots that are shown just beautifully. Equally important to Koepp’s approach and vision is the work of his actors, primarily the two leads. In many ways, this is a more “typical” Johnny Depp role than his Oscar nominated turn in The Pirates of the Caribbean. Depp’s performance is low-key and intense; he plays a loner where everything for him seems to get worse. Depp’s performance was just as brilliant in Pirates of the Caribbean, but his role in this movie required a lot more range, and Koepp got everything he could from Depp.
The standout is John Turturro, who makes Shooter a terrifying individual. Here, John Turturro is evil come to life and it’s not hard to understand why Mort is so freaked out by this hat-wearing stranger who appears one afternoon at his door.
Those looking for a standard Stephen King gore fest will be disappointed. The levels of violence and blood are tame, leaving the majority of Secret Window’s horror in the psychological realm. Secret Window is a movie about loss and the fine line between reality and fiction. Everything about this movie was fantastic!
It’s true that we have seen these movies about unusual writers before. But with a performance from, honestly, one of the best actors, and crafted by a top-notch writer-director, it’s no secret that Secret Window is the best movie to come out so far this year.
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Pictured: Johnny Depp and John Turturro the two main characters staring in Secret Window with very demanding roles