Secret Window is a bag of cheap horror tricks and desperate thrills. It’s the type of film that takes place at an isolated cabin by the lake, where everything is dark and creepy.
And for some reason or another, the main character is going to be walking around the yard very slowly, with a flashlight in hand before it’s over – while the conventional eerie music plays for added effect. It’s all just terrifyingly unoriginal.
It’s a shame too, because it looks like Johnny Depp is really trying to make it work. Attempting to keep his streak alive, after stealing scenes from both Pirates of the Caribbean and Once Upon a Time in Mexico last year, Depp nearly salvages this one with his quirky and captivating performance.
His portrayal of Mort Rainey is the sole reason to see this film. No matter how many times we’ve been over this material before, Depp has a way of making it all feel brand new again. He’s the type of actor that could make home movies entertaining.
Unfortunately, the screenplay doesn’t give him a whole lot to work with. You can put a fancy cover on a book but it doesn’t change what’s inside.
The script takes us to the remote lodge, six months after Mort has found his wife cheating on him. There he spends most of his time in his robe sleeping, playing with his dog or staring at his computer screen stuck with writer’s block.
Then one day there comes a knock at the door, when John Turturro shows up playing John Shooter, a Mississippi-flavored psycho with a penchant for screwdrivers and who likes wearing really silly-looking hats.
Shooter accuses Rainey of stealing his story (Secret Window, a hostile story geared at his soon-to-be ex-wife Maria Bello) and gives him three days to prove he didn’t before he makes good on a number of threats he’s made. All the usual suspense comes from there, as Depp, rather amusingly, meanders around trying to avoid and capture his psycho stalker.
From the minute he shows up, Turturro seems jarringly out of place. His southern drawl elicits laughter at inappropriate times.
Director David Koepp ought to know better after writing Spider Man and Jurassic Park among other crowd-pleasers. Perhaps his inner Jurassic Park: The Lost World came out again, as he turns Secret Window into a by-the-numbers thriller.
There’s not a whole lot of new ground to cover, but… Johnny be good.
Brian Mulligan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org