Movie Poster
Secret Window
David Koepp
Johnny Depp, John Turturro, Maria Bello, Timothy Hutton, Charles Dutton
106 min.


Mort Rainey stole John Shooter's story. It's funny that plagarism is so explicitly addressed, because the smell of theft is all over this movie.

You may remember the director, David Koepp, from Stir of Echoes. You may remember of Stir of Echoes that it was uncomfortably close to being The Sixth Sense. Nevermind, for the moment, that Stir of Echoes was better, just that The Sixth Sense came first.

Secret Window is based on a Stephen King novella of the same name (plus a comma and the words "Secret Garden"). The story is a cross between The Shining (or rather a cross between The Shining and the Simpsons' The Shinning) and Fight Club. This brings us to self-plagarism. We can almost feel King snickering to himself (in the guise of Richard Bachman) about the pseudonym line.

Oh what a tangled web we weave (and by "we" I mean Stephen King and David Koepp).

I don't know why I hesitate to give away the twist, they certainly don't. You spend most of Secret Window waiting only to find that your initial hunch accurately plotted out the rest of the movie. In fact you can probably figure it out just by reading this review and re-watching the trailer.

"All that matters," says Mort Rainey, "is the ending... and this one is perfect." This is where the self-reflexivity seems to break down. The ending is okay, but it can't quite recover from the generic twist which derails the movie and saps its suspense.

Despite all of this, it is pretty good. None of the suspence comes from the story, anyway, its all the visuals. David Koepp has a keen eye, this has not changed since Stir of Echoes, and it does not fail him here. That was, in fact, why Stir of Echoes was better than M. Night's hack job on Sixth Sense.

Secret Window, by comparison, is not better than Fight Club or The Shining. Johnny Depp and John Turturro are fantastic actors, but I can't shake the feeling that at least one of them was miscast. And there is the small matter of it being almost unforgivably generic. Philip Glass turned in a nice score. David Koepp provided the visuals and the team of Depp and Turturro is hard to better. If it seems unfair to blame King for Secret Window's shortcomings, we might at least wonder why all this talent didn't decide to adapt something more interesting.

In conclusion, what would Theseus "Shooter" McGee do?

Pat Jackson