Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr Viber
Trending On Empire
The Big 2015 Movie Preview
The 50 Best Films Of 2014
Review Of The Year 2014
Subscribe to Empire!
Save up to 63%
Want To Be An Empire Journalist?
We're looking for reporters for the BFI London Film Festival
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

John Turturro
Maria Bello
Timothy Hutton
Johnny Depp.
David Koepp.
David Koepp
Stephen King.
Running Time
96 minutes

4 Star Empire Rating
2 Star Empire Rating
2 Star Empire Rating
Intern, The
3 Star Empire Rating
3 Star Empire Rating

5 Star Empire Rating
Man With A Movie Camera
5 Star Empire Rating
Salt Of The Earth, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Song Of The Sea
5 Star Empire Rating
Look Of Silence, The
5 Star Empire Rating

Secret Window
Stephen King, David Koepp, Depp, Turturro - it's gotta be good, right?

submit to reddit

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.

Reviewed by Ian Nathan

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for Secret Window
Empire Star Rating

"The ending is the most important thing, and this one is very good... this one is perfect."

Although Secret Window is far from perfect, David Koepp's tale of writer's block and insanity, based on a novella by Stephen King, is nonetheless an entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable psychological treat reminiscent of The Shining (which outshines this by the way). ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by movienut707 at 02:17, 18 January 2013 | Report This Post

Subtle And Entertaining Thriller

Johnny Depp is, as always, superb, and the film, while it lasts, is very enjoyable and somewhat chilling in parts, which is exactly what was being aimed for. However, the final reel is an outcome that has been used way to frequently, and now retains all but its' surprise and shock value. It's only at the finale where the film falls apart, and the dark, albeit open, ending feels mildly premature. That said, the film has a enjoyably dark atmosphere and manages to be likable and disturbing at the s... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blaud at 10:33, 16 March 2011 | Report This Post

Secret Window

David Keopp has created a brilliant film there are a few twists and turns and some red herrings to lead you in the wrong direction.i was kept guessing to the very end. But i loved the multiple Johnny Depps, never get tired of this i have this on my ipod nano to watch on the bus. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by deppfanatic at 18:21, 27 September 2009 | Report This Post

Secret Window!

Secret Window is a great example of a Stephen King novel being turned into a movie! With Johnny Depp as the depressed psycho Mort Rainey it's hard not to like! The story is very captivating and soon you'll be looking behind you think some hillbilly is after you as supposedly you "stole his story!" Overall it may not be to everybodies liking but I love it! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Chimene at 21:56, 07 July 2008 | Report This Post


Enjoyable, If a bit extreme for a 12A. The outcome's one that's been used a bit too much in times of late, but this is still a good film ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blaud at 10:32, 23 May 2008 | Report This Post

This film has an intriguing premise to it, far more intriguing and interesting than it actually is. It is pretty much your straight forward thriller with a twist, rather than anything special that the trailer suggests it is (despite being based on a Stephen King story). Depp, as usual, is brillant - easily the films best aspect. He finds the role of Mort so easily, although the character is clearly written for him, and is the only part of the film that is belivable. The whole concept of 's... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ukedge87 at 18:57, 27 September 2006 | Report This Post


A slight story, given weight by good performances from all involved. Not a great movie, but enjoyable all the same & a solid example of the genre. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by vanpearcey at 13:56, 30 May 2006 | Report This Post

Jessica Chastain On The Martian
On becoming an astronaut and rescuing Matt Damon AGAIN

My Movie Life: Justin Kurzel
The Macbeth director on how Rocky changed his life and the worst ever date movie

Life On Mars: Trips To The Red Planet
A dozen of cinema's Martian misadventures

Hallowed Ground: Folk Horror In British Film
Ten tales from our island's dark past

All Hail Macbeth! The Scottish Play On Film
By the pricking of our thumbs, ten adaptations this way come(s)

Licence Denied: The Bond Themes You Didn't Get To Hear
A dozen of 007's greatest misses

10 Star Wars: The Force Awakens Toys You’ll Want To Own
Falcon quad copter? BB-8 Sphero? We’re already asking for pay raises…

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Empire print magazine

Delivered to your door – with exclusive subscriber only covers each month! Save money today and

Subscribe now!

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Empire digital magazine

Exclusive and enhanced content – get instant access via your iPad or Android device! Save money today and

Subscribe now!

Subscribe now and save up to 63%
Print, Digital & Package options available Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire Digital Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  Digital Edition  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)