Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||David Koepp|
|Screenplay by||David Koepp|
Secret Window, Secret Garden by|
|Edited by||Jill Savitt|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Box office||$92.9 million|
Secret Window is a 2004 American psychological horror-thriller film starring Johnny Depp and John Turturro. It was written and directed by David Koepp, based on the novella Secret Window, Secret Garden by Stephen King, featuring a musical score by Philip Glass and Geoff Zanelli. The story appeared in King's collection Four Past Midnight. The film was released on March 12, 2004, by Columbia Pictures; it was a moderate box office success and received mixed reviews from critics.
Author Mort Rainey catches his wife Amy having an affair with Ted. Depressed and suffering from writer's block, Mort delays finalizing the divorce and retreats to his cabin at Tashmore Lake in upstate New York. A man named John Shooter, accuses Mort of plagiarizing his short story, "Sowing Season." Upon reading Shooter's manuscript, Mort discovers its resemblance to his own story, "Secret Window," except for the ending.
The following day, Mort tells Shooter that his story was published years before Shooter's. Shooter demands proof and warns Mort against involving the police. That night, Mort finds his dog Chico killed and reports to Sheriff Dave Newsome.
Mort drives to his house in Riverdale to retrieve a copy of the magazine his story was published in, but leaves when he sees Amy and Ted. He contacts private investigator Ken Karsch for help. Ken agrees to travel to Tashmore Lake to watch the cabin and talk to Tom Greenleaf, a resident who might have seen Shooter talking to Mort. Shooter visits Mort at the cabin and demands Mort revise the ending of "Secret Window" to Shooter's version, where the protagonist kills his wife. Shooter then attacks and chokes Mort.
Amy calls Mort, saying their house was burned down. Mort travels to Riverdale and the two are questioned by a police officer. Ken calls Mort and says Tom Greenleaf denied seeing Mort. Ken suspects Tom was threatened by Shooter. They agree to confront Shooter together and arrange a meeting with Tom at a local diner.
The next morning, Mort oversleeps. Arriving at the diner, he learns that Ken and Tom didn't show up. Seeing Ted at a gas station, Mort approaches him and Ted demands Mort sign the divorce papers. The two have a confrontation and Ted breaks his own hand. Shooter calls Mort to a meeting place. When he arrives, Mort finds Ken and Tom dead inside Tom's truck and faints. When he wakes up, Shooter says they were murdered with Mort's screwdriver for interfering with his business. Mort has the magazine as proof and Shooter agrees to meet at Mort's cabin. He leaves and Mort covers up the crime by removing his screwdriver from Tom's head and running the truck into a water-filled stone quarry.
Amy calls Mort, reminiscing about a miscarriage she had suffered during their marriage in hopes that she can convince him to sign the divorce papers, but Mort refuses once again, causing her to drive to his cabin to try and convince him in person. Afterwards, Mort picks up the magazine sent by his literary agent. He finds the package already opened and the pages containing the story cut out. Back at his cabin, Mort sees Shooter's hat. Mort wears the hat and begins speaking to himself, trying to make sense of the events. Mort realizes that Shooter is just a figment of his imagination; brought to life through Mort's undetected dissociative identity disorder, and carried out malevolent tasks like killing Chico, Tom, Ken and burning down his house.
When Amy arrives at the cabin, she finds it in disorder, with the word "SHOOTER" carved repeatedly on the walls. Mort appears behind her and Amy realizes that the name represents Mort's desire to "SHOOT HER." Mort, speaking with Shooter's accent and wearing his hat, chases Amy and stabs her in the ankle. Concerned about Amy's safety, Ted arrives and is ambushed by Mort, who hits him in the face with a shovel. Amy watches helplessly as Mort beheads Ted with the shovel. Mort recites the ending of "Sowing Season" as he kills Amy as well.
Mort recovers from writer's block and experiences a mood improvement. Sheriff Newsome later stops by the cabin to warn Mort that he is the prime suspect in Amy and Ted's disappearances. Mort dismisses the threat and the Sheriff leaves. In Mort's room there is a secret window that overlooks a secret garden. It is implied that the bodies are buried in the garden, which is now a cornfield, and the police will probably never find them. Mort is seen eating corn for dinner and the screen cuts to black.
- Johnny Depp as Morton "Mort" Rainey
- John Turturro as John Shooter
- Maria Bello as Amy Rainey
- Timothy Hutton as Ted "Teddy" Milner
- Len Cariou as Sheriff Dave Newsome
- Charles S. Dutton as Private Investigator Ken Karsch
- John Dunn Hill as Tom Greenleaf
- Chico as himself
On Rotten Tomatoes, Secret Window has a rating of 46% based on 160 reviews. On Metacritic, the film has a score of 46 (mixed or average reviews) out of 100. Roger Ebert awarded it three stars out of a possible four, stating that "[Secret Window] could add up to a straight-faced thriller about things that go boo in the night, but Johnny Depp and director David Koepp ... have too much style to let that happen." He continues by noting that "[t]he story is more entertaining as it rolls along than it is when it gets to the finish line. But at least King uses his imagination right up to the end, and spares us the obligatory violent showdown that a lesser storyteller would have settled for." On the other hand, Ian Nathan from Empire magazine only awarded the film 2 stars out of a possible 5, stating that "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." It was a modest box office success, succeeding at recouping its budget of $40 million with a worldwide gross of $92 million.
Part of Secret Window was filmed in the town of North Hatley, Quebec in the Eastern Townships approximately two hours south east of Montreal. Other filming locations included Lake Massawippi, Lake Sacacomie, Lake Gale and the village of Bromont, Quebec.
According to director David Koepp on the DVD commentary track, the footage of the ocean scene during Mort's restless night on the couch was extra b-roll footage taken from The Lost World: Jurassic Park.
- Macdonald, Moira (March 12, 2004). "Depp's charisma makes 'Secret Window' worth a look". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2011-05-24.
- Ebert, Roger (March 12, 2004). "Secret Window". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2011-05-24.
- Nathan, Ian. "Empire's Secret Window Movie Review". Empire Online. Retrieved 2011-05-24.
- Google News, The Stanstead Journal, September 13, 2003
- WorldWeb.com, North Hatley Travel Guide
- The Writing Studio, The Art of Writing and Making Films - Adaptation Secret Window Archived 2013-09-25 at the Wayback Machine.
- Koep, David (Director) (Audio Commentary) (2004). "Secret Window" (DVD) (Motion Picture). Columbia Pictures.
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