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David Koepp
Johnny Depp, John Turturro, Maria Bello
Writing Credits:
David Koepp

A successful writer in the midst of a painful divorce is stalked at his remote lake house by a would-be scribe who accuses him of plagiarism.

Box Office:
$40 million.
Opening Weekend
$18,237,568 on 3018 screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English PCM 5.1
English Dolby 5.1
French Parisian Dolby 5.1
French Canadian Dolby 5.1
German PCM 5.1
German Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 96 min.
Price: $9.99
Release Date: 4/24/2007

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director David Koepp
• Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
• 3 Featurettes
• Animatics
• Previews


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Secret Window [Blu-Ray] (2004)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 18, 2019)

Fresh off of the success as the writer of 2002’s Spider-Man and Panic Room, writer David Koepp returned to the director’s chair for the first time in five years via 2004’s Secret Window. Based on a Steven King story, Window focuses on mystery writer Mort Rainey (Johnny Depp), whose wife Amy (Maria Bello) cheated on him and initiated a separation.

Mort takes up residency at a lakeside cabin to work but mostly seems pretty out of it with a bad case of writer’s block. Mysterious oddball John Shooter (John Turturro) bangs on the cabin door and claims that Mort stole his story.

Mort denies any connection and tries to get rid of the other man, but the determined Shooter leaves his allegedly-plagiarized manuscript anyway. Mort throws it in the trash and resumes his lazy lifestyle.

Shooter’s manuscript ends up on Mort’s table when his maid mistakes it for one of Rainey’s and rescues it. Despite his better judgment, Mort reads it and discovers that it bears a strong resemblance to his own tale “Secret Window”.

Mort denies he stole Shooter’s story, but he slowly starts to question this assertion, and matters complicate when we learn that Mort once “borrowed” someone else’s tale. Shooter confronts Mort again, and Rainey tries to dispel his antagonist when we learn that Shooter penned his tale in 1997 but “Secret Window” was published a couple of years earlier.

Shooter doesn’t just accept Mort’s word, though, and insists that he produce proof. To prove he’s no playing around, Shooter leaves a threatening note and kills Mort’s dog.

Despite Shooter’s insistence on “no police”, Mort immediately heads to the cops, but they don’t really seem to care about the canine murder. Mort goes to a private detective named Ken Karsch (Charles S. Dutton) to get assistance.

Despite the bad blood between the pair, Mort goes to get a copy of the magazine in which “Secret Window” first ran from Amy, where he reacts bitterly when he sees her with her boyfriend Ted (Timothy Hutton) and doesn’t get the publication.

Matters intensify after another confrontation with Shooter, soon after which someone burns down the house they used to share. From there, the story continues its course, as we learn of intrigue and outside elements that complicate the tale, all while Shooter remains on Mort’s case.

Heavily influenced by Hitchcock, Secret Window engages us intermittently but it doesn’t live up to the levels set by the master. Echoes of Hitchcock pop up all over the place, from the title to the score.

The flick tosses out more than a minor Cape Fear vibe as well. From the determined stalker to the cocky private detective, we see many reminders of that effort.

I won’t detail it so I don’t spoil things, but Window presents a big twist ending. I won’t lie - I didn’t see it coming, though I probably should have, given the weird plot holes that popped up along the way.

For instance, it seemed stupid that it took Mort so long to get a copy of the magazine, and this felt like a cheesy device to prolong the story; once it appears, matters should rectify.

In the context of the film’s third act, the absence of the magazine fits better, as do other plot holes. The film tosses out clues about what will come, but obviously they remained largely hidden to me, for I really didn’t see it coming.

The twists make the conclusion both more satisfying and more frustrating. It came across as more pleasing just because so much of the prior action made so little sense, so within the context of the ending, we understand the flaws better and they don’t seem so problematic.

However, the frustrations emerge because the twists feel like cheats at times. The movie does build them naturally, but it occasionally does so in such obscure ways that the ultimate realities appear out of the blue.

Happily, yet another good performance from Depp helps tie this material together. He’s turned into money in the bank, as he almost always creates a quirky and idiosyncratic turn. Depp keeps his characters real and believable but he adds neat twists that allow them to emerge as intriguing personalities.

As a director, Koepp does an average job. He lacks the self-assurance of someone like David Fincher, who made the Hitchcockian material of Panic Room into something out of the ordinary. Koepp tries hard but doesn’t deliver the same level of flair and cleverness to help allow the movie to truly excel.

Ultimately, Secret Window provides some entertainment, and I give it credit for a dark ending. However, it comes across as a somewhat pedestrian Hitchcock homage. The movie works well for the most part but it doesn’t excel in any particular way.

The Disc Grades: Picture C/ Audio B/ Bonus B

Secret Window appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Released relatively early in the format’s existence, this became a mediocre presentation.

Sharpness became one of the concerns. While close-ups displayed good delineation, wider shots could veer toward softness. These didn’t uniformly look iffy, but too many seemed ill-defined.

A few examples of moiré effects occurred, but I saw no jagged edges. Some edge haloes materialized and the movie tended to display some digital artifacts, but I noticed no print flaws.

As one might expect from a fairly dark thriller, Window maintained a somber palette, and the disc replicated those tones well. This became a subdued but responsive set of colors.

Blacks were generally deep and firm, though they could feel a bit crushed at times. A few low-light shots came across as slightly dense, but those failed to create definite concerns, as shadows mostly appeared distinctive and adequately defined. The Blu-ray became a lackluster presentation of the film.

Though fairly low-key, the Uncompressed PCM 5.1 soundtrack of Secret Window seemed winning. Given the movie’s restricted scope, the soundfield mostly stayed with general ambience.

Elements were appropriately placed and integrated smoothly. Occasional louder sequences brought the mix to life nicely and added some punch when necessary, mainly in the scenes that featured drama between Mort and Shooter.

Surrounds stayed mostly with environmental reinforcement. Occasional examples of unique audio appeared in the rear, but the audio mainly featured information that echoed the sense of place.

Audio quality was fine, as speech seemed accurate and well-defined, with no issues related to intelligibility or edginess. Music was bright and dynamic, as the score seemed clean and dynamic.

Effects also sounded concise and clear, as they lacked distortion and featured good range and accuracy. Nothing about the soundtrack of Window stood out from the crowd, but it seemed satisfying.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the DVD version? The lossless audio felt a bit more dynamic when compared to the lossy Dolby Digital track on the DVD.

As for the visuals, the Blu-ray showed minor improvements over the DVD, mainly due to the superior capabilities of the format. However, the issues I saw restricted these areas and made this a minor upgrade at best.

The Blu-ray repeats the DVD’s extras, and we open with an audio commentary from writer/director David Koepp, who offers a running, screen-specific discussion. A nicely lively and informative track, Koepp covers lots of material.

He goes over issues connected to the adaptation of the original story and other script topics. In addition, Koepp talks about storytelling elements related to the visual components, as he goes over the various choices made to depict the action.

Koepp talks virtually nonstop and seems self-deprecating and amusing, and he even points out some parts of the flick he wishes he’d improved. It’s a solid track.

After this we get four deleted scenes. Via the “Play All” option, they last a total of six minutes, three seconds. These include a shot of arson as well as some extended bits.

Nothing substantial appears, though the elongated bit when Mort looks for Karsch seems entertaining. We can watch the first two clips with or without commentary from Koepp. He explains why he axed the pieces and offers some useful notes about the snippets.

Within the Featurettes domain, we get three programs. We find “From Book to Film” (19 minutes, seven seconds), “A Look Through It” (29:41), and “Secrets Revealed” (14:02). We can also take them in via a “Play All” option that creates one long one-hour, two-minute, 51-second piece.

Across the featurettes, we hear from director/writer Koepp, costume designer Odette Gadoury, and actors Johnny Depp, John Turturro, Charles S. Dutton, Timothy Hutton, and Maria Bello.

They go over reasons for changing the title, issues related to the adaptation and bringing the material to the movie screen, changes made to the original work, Stephen King’s input, casting, character notes, storytelling techniques, locations and sets, costumes and the film’s visual look, and the shooting and conception of many of the flick’s scenes.

For all intents and purposes, the featurettes add up to something of an illustrated audio commentary. Despite the infusion of other participants, Koepp heavily dominates these pieces, and he often goes over topics covered in his commentary.

Nonetheless, we get some good shots from the filming as well as additional insight into a few topics not mentioned in the commentary. Despite some redundant elements, the three featurettes present a nice examination of various issues connected to the film.

Animatics lets us examine the preparatory work for four segments. We see “Opening Credits” (1:42), “Pushing the Car Off the Cliff” (1:14), “Twist Revealed” (3:20) and “Into the Garden” (0:52). These provide basic computer animated visions of the sequences and seem fun to watch.

Previews offers an ad for The Covenant. No trailer for Window appears here.

A moderately intriguing thriller, Secret Window suffers from a mix of flaws, but it generally offers some entertainment. There’s nothing here to make it stand out as particularly stellar, though a nice lead performance from Johnny Depp elevates it somewhat. The Blu-ray comes with solid audio and supplements but visuals seem erratic. The lackluster transfer makes this a disappointing release despite a mix of strengths.

To rate this film, visit the DVD review of SECRET WINDOW

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