Secret Window (2004)



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

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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 Timothy Hutton, Secret Window is the second story from Four Past Midnight to be adapted as a film, the first being 1995's made-for-television The Langoliers. ~ Matthew Tobey, Rovi
PG-13 (for violence/terror, sexual content and language)
Drama , Mystery & Suspense
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Johnny Depp
as Mort Rainey
John Turturro
as John Shooter
Maria Bello
as Amy Rainey
Timothy Hutton
as Ted Milner
Charles S. Dutton
as Ken Karsch
Len Cariou
as Sheriff Dave Newsome
Joan Heney
as Mrs. Garvey
John Dunn-Hill
as Tom Greenleaf
Vlasta Vrana
as Fire Chief Wickersham
Matt Holland
as Detective Bradley
Gillian Ferrabee
as Fran Evans
Bronwen Mantel
as Greta Bowie
Kyle Allatt
as Busboy
Richard Jutras
as Motel Manager
Kevin Woodhouse
as Public Works Guy
Vito De Filippo
as Public Works Guy
Sarah Allen
as Sheriff's Niece
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Critic Reviews for Secret Window

All Critics (160) | Top Critics (40)

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

Full Review… | April 1, 2004
New York Observer
Top 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.

Full Review… | March 21, 2004
Top Critic

Has no story, no ending and no redeeming value.

Full Review… | March 18, 2004
New York Observer
Top 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.

Full Review… | March 16, 2004
Chicago Reader
Top 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
Village Voice
Top Critic

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

March 15, 2004
Ebert & Roeper
Top Critic

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.

Lady D'arbanville
Lady D'arbanville

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.

Chris Weber
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

Unexpected twists and turns. Johnny Depp is fantatsic!

Bethany Murphy
Bethany Murphy

Super Reviewer

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