Secret Window Review

Image for Secret Window

As if a collapsing marriage isn't enough, isolated writer Mort Rainey (Depp) is confronted by what seems to be a deranged competitor sporting an equally deranged hat (Turturro), claiming he stole one of his stories.


On paper, that feckless mistress, Secret Window looks like a big deal. This psychological brew is fermented from a Stephen King short story - typically so much better at the big screen translation than his doughy novels - by the able-minded David Koepp, who wrote the screenplay for Jurassic Park and created the lean, ghostly force of Stir Of Echoes.

A blend made very tasty by the piquant talents of both John Turturro and Johnny Depp, currently the industry standard for spicing-up labouring genres.

That's all paper, though. On screen you have to wonder why any of them clambered out of bed for such a parched thriller.

King's exhausted preoccupations with the traumatised author, curdling away in a log cabin, possessed rather than liberated by his creations, smell like a rusty formula these days. And Koepp, despite opening with some jazzy tracking shots, gives them no more than the leisurely, ordered quality of a television movie.

Certainly, his lean toward character over schlockly punchlines (in terms of violence the film is surprisingly timid) is admirable, but the script needed far more vigour and wit to stir the blood, even if we do have one of those clonking great King twists to tease us.

Sadly, Secret Window's big secret couldn't be any more obvious if a marching band came stomping down the aisles with scarlet-clad pom-pom girls chanting the answer in unison.

It's a load of old hat about an old hat, which would count for some kind of irony if the movie weren't so threadbare. Anyone with a passing knowledge of King's jam-packed oeuvre and its spotty movie translations will be fidgeting in their seats from the get-go.

Depp, who was making the film before Gore Verbinski's Pirates Of The Caribbean turned out to be such a trippy romp, adds an itchier, tormented character to his recent roster of show-stealers. He's a pleasure to dance with, as ever, full of urgent mood swings and a fine catalogue of jagged witticisms - this is not a hero who's easy to stomach.

Then again, he's not exactly a hero.

And as good as John Turturro consistently remains, you have to wonder what attracted him to such a blip-role as a hayrick psycho.

The presence of the sublime Depp will be enough to get Secret Window noticed, but even his latest set of rattling eccentricities is not enough to energise this deadbeat parlour trick.