Review of Secret Window (2004)

In honor of Stephen King’s birthday this past Monday, September 21, this entry is the second installment of my three-post review trilogy. In this post, I will review the movie Secret Window starring Johnny Depp.

Secret Window (2004)
Dir. David Koepp; Starring Johnny Depp, John Turturro, Maria Bello

The first time I saw Secret Window was back in 2004. I was in high school and I had gone to a theater we affectionately called the “Cheap Seats” because the tickets were only $2. The tickets could be so low because they didn’t receive the movies until after their runs in regular theaters. Every weekend, my best friend at the time and I would walk down to the “Cheap Seats” and see a movie. When we saw that Johnny Depp – our favorite actor – was in Secret Window, our eyes were on nothing else.

At that time, I was already pretty adamant that I would become a writer. I had already written a good portion of my first novel, which my best friend swore up and down was amazing (I knew better; she was just being nice). After we saw Secret Window, however, she got her kicks out of telling me that I would end up just like Mort Rainey (Depp), which made me shudder at the thought. Far be it from me that I would end up the main character in a Stephen King story. No thank you!

For those of you who don’t know, the movie Secret Window is based on a Stephen King novella titled Secret Window, Secret Garden, which was published in the anthology Four Past Midnight. The story follows Mort Rainey, a writer who secludes himself in his cabin to get away from his failed marriage. Rainey is visited by a man named John Shooter (Turturro), who claims that Rainey plagiarized his short story and demands that it be acknowledged. As Rainey attempts to get his hands on his original published copy of the story to prove it was written first, Shooter terrorizes him and his family.

This movie has received mixed reviews over the years and I’m here to not help you at all with that. This movie was okay. I loved it when I first saw it, but I can’t say I had the same perception of movies back then. This time around, I was intrigued, but I wasn’t wowed. The movie poked at my nostalgia a bit, but not enough for me to exclaim how much I’ve always loved it.

Johnny Depp, as usual, was great. I mean, nobody plays mental breakdown like Tim Burton’s go-to guy. Being based on a Stephen King story, the plot itself was also amazing. Right up to the end, you’re held in suspense. I’m not sure if it’s because I’d seen it before or because there are so many of these types of movies out there now, but I found myself disconnecting from the story a little bit. Sure, it’s creepy. Sure, it can be scary at some points. Sure, Johnny Depp really holds up as Mort Rainey. But there was something that was just… off.

I don’t know. Am I crazy? Let me know what you thought of Secret Window in the comments!


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