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Secret Window (2004)



Average Rating: 5.5/10
Reviews Counted: 159
Fresh: 74 | Rotten: 85

Depp is quirkily entertaining, but the movie runs out of steam by the end.


Average Rating: 5.4/10
Critic Reviews: 40
Fresh: 19 | Rotten: 21

Depp is quirkily entertaining, but the movie runs out of steam by the end.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.3/5
User Ratings: 427,929

My Rating

Movie Info

From writer/director David Koepp (Stir of Echoes) comes this filmed adaptation of Stephen King's novella Secret Window, Secret Garden, one of four stories in the collection Four Past Midnight. Johnny Depp stars as Mort Rainey, a recently divorced author who decides to take some time off at his cottage. Unfortunately for Rainey, John Shooter (John Turturro), an unbalanced wannabe writer, tracks him down, claiming that Rainey plagiarized his work. Also starring Maria Bello, Charles S. Dutton, and


Mystery & Suspense, Drama

David Koepp

Jun 22, 2004


Columbia Pictures - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (170) | Top Critics (44) | Fresh (74) | Rotten (85) | DVD (37)

Mr. Depp demonstrates once again that he never disappoints as an actor, even in something as fraudulent as Secret Window.

April 1, 2004 Full Review Source: New York Observer | Comment (1)
New York Observer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The story is so basic that it makes a fine template for an exercise in style, and Koepp layers on the details with great relish.

March 21, 2004 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Has no story, no ending and no redeeming value.

March 18, 2004 Full Review Source: New York Observer
New York Observer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The plot certainly has possibilities, but far too many of them are botched by writer-director David Koepp, who's a better writer than director.

March 16, 2004 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Adapted from a Stephen King novella, the film lurches tiredly through the author's favorite masochistic-narcissistic fantasy, subjecting a woebegone writer to a gauntlet of abuse.

March 16, 2004 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[I]t's so refreshing to see a thriller that doesn't compromise itself with a pat Hollywood ending.

March 15, 2004 Full Review Source: Ebert & Roeper
Ebert & Roeper
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It all feels recycled and re-recycled.

December 28, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

Once again, Depp slouches into a piece of mainstream entertainment and takes every opportunity to amuse himself.

September 23, 2007 Full Review Source:

This is, in short, a mystery story that has very little actual mystery.

October 11, 2006
Christianity Today

Depp's ... wonderfully frazzled portrait of seething resentment almost makes this minor thriller seem fresh.

May 4, 2005 Full Review Source: Lessons of Darkness
Lessons of Darkness enjoyable little genre picture -- tense and stylish and full of Johnny Depp.

January 29, 2005 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Another lousy movie adapted from Stephen King's writing; another slander against the mentally ill; another energetic Depp performance in a losing cause.

August 6, 2004 Full Review Source: Mixed Reviews

Wait-for-video more than straight-to-video.

July 16, 2004 Full Review Source: RTE Interactive (Dublin, Ireland)

A solid-but-imperfect thriller.

June 25, 2004

...much of Secret Window will seem old hat to anyone who knows what "redrum" means.

May 20, 2004 Full Review Source: Film Journal International | Comment (1)
Film Journal International

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.

May 14, 2004 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Even Johnny Depp in quirk-overdrive can't save it, his slyly insincere performance eventually irritating as much as the sincerely stupid movie he's stuck in.

May 1, 2004 Full Review Source:

Torna-se não apenas um suspense eficiente, mas também um curioso estudo de personagens.

April 15, 2004 Full Review Source: Cinema em Cena
Cinema em Cena

Good thing the people serving this utilitarian story have the wit to dress it up a little and make it dance.

April 9, 2004 Full Review Source: eye WEEKLY

A mystery whose secret is obvious from the beginning and a thriller without any genuine thrills.

April 1, 2004 Full Review Source: Internet Reviews
Internet Reviews

Writer-Director Koepp well understood the best qualities of the story and held back the almost demeaning payoff as long as he could.

March 28, 2004 Full Review Source: Cinema Signals
Cinema Signals

At a loss for what to do while I was sitting there, I wondered why Depp would agree to play the role in a hairdo inspired by Carrot Top.

March 24, 2004 Full Review Source: Boston Herald
Boston Herald

Bottom line, it's extremely predictable, even if you didn't read the original novella.

March 24, 2004 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

Strange and a little awkward, "Secret Window" nonetheless is worth a look.

March 22, 2004 Full Review
Quad City Times (Davenport, IA)

A pastiche of past thrillers, recycling its elements from The Shining, Misery, The Dark Half and just about every other King project this side of The Mangler.

March 22, 2004 Full Review Source: Creative Loafing
Creative Loafing

Audience Reviews for Secret Window

Based on a short story of Stephen King's, this is a mind twister of a film with the kind of performance that Johnny Depp can pull off. Watching this now, it does seem much more predictable than when it was released, perhaps because a lot of similar themed films have been made since, easy watching though! My favourite role of John Turturro's.
February 24, 2012

Super Reviewer

Based on a novella by Stephen King, this is a fun little story about a writer (big surprise) named Mort Rainey who, while trying to work at his secluded lakeside cabin, is menaced by a mysterious stranger named John Shooter who claims that Mort palgiarized his work, and has no problems with resorting to psychotic behavior in order to see that he gets justice.

You may or may not have guessed this, but this film has a twist ending. And while the twist isn't bad, I think the film could have been far more interesting had there been no twist. For that to work though, other parts of the story would have to be rewritten and that sort of thing, but what I'm getting at is that, while the film isn't that bad, it's not really all that great either, and it doesn't really hold up to much scrutiny or repeat viewings.

As a single watch though, it's passable. I enjoyed seeing the stakes get raised between Mort and John, and the film does have a good sense of mood, tone, and atmosphere, and a pretty decent pace. It just gets to me because many films that contain twists are usually full of holes, and I get the feeling that the novella probably doesn't have these sort of problems, mostly because of the medium and whatnot.

All in all though, I give this film a lot of credit because, even though the story is nothing fresh and it isn't infallible, it is quite fun, watchble, and entertaining. Philip Glass provides a pretty nice score, and Koepp seems to be having fun as the helmer. Plus, there's a good cast here, even though it would be better seeing them here with some stronger material.

Still though, Depp is good as this sort of thing, and his character is rather likeable (mostly), and Turturro, though maybe phoning it in, is also good at this sort of thing as well. I just wish that Dutton had more screentime and stuff to do, and that more could have been done with Hutton and Bello. What time these three do have is okay, but Hutton probably has the shortest end of the stick (they probably could have gotten a lesser known and it would have been better). Hutton isn't bad, but he feels unnecessary.

Honestly, I should dock this one a half star, but I can't really bring myself to do it because the good outweigh the bad.
December 17, 2011
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

Unexpected twists and turns. Johnny Depp is fantatsic!
June 23, 2011
Bethany Murphy

Super Reviewer

Johnny Depp's portrayal of Mort Rainey and his descent into madness is outstanding. It's almost enough to climb out of the plot holes. In fact, he so good in his role, you could almost get confused and think this was a good movie. It isn't. The story is paper thin and despite it's best efforts, it's actually quite predictable. Worth checking out for Depp's performance, otherwise avoid.
May 2, 2011
Jason Calvin

Super Reviewer

    1. Mort Rainey: You know, the only thing that matters, is the ending. It's the most important part of the story, the ending. And this one, is very good. This one's perfect.
    – Submitted by Cody H (2 years ago)
    1. John Shooter: I want you to fix it.
    2. Mort Rainey: What would you like me to fix?
    3. John Shooter: My ending. The one you wrecked. I can't decide what's worse: stealing my story or ruining the ending. Mine was perfect.
    4. Mort Rainey: I don't even think I read your whole story.
    5. John Shooter: Oh, I bet you did. 'I know I can do it, Todd Downey said, helping himself to another ear of corn from the steaming bowl. I'm sure that in time, her death will be a mystery even to me.' That's how the story ends, pilgrim, it's the only ending. You gonna write it for me, ang get it published and it's gonna have my name on it.
    6. Mort Rainey: I'd be more than happy to write your ending, Mr. Shooter.
    – Submitted by Cody H (2 years ago)
    1. Mort Rainey: [voiceover] I know I can do it, Todd Downey said, helping himself to another ear of corn from the steaming bowl. I'm sure that in time, every bit of her will be gone and her death will be a mystery... even to me.
    – Submitted by John D (2 years ago)
    1. Mort Rainey: My wife, let's just leave her out of this.
    2. John Shooter: Would if I could, but I'm starting to think you ain't gonna leave me that option.
    – Submitted by Dan P (2 years ago)
View all quotes (4)

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