Netflix can be a bit random sometimes, as it offers very few real blockbuster successes, but plenty of less well-known films. I took a chance on David Koepp’s 2004 thriller ‘Secret Window’, primarily on the basis that 96 minutes of mostly Johnny Depp couldn’t be bad. Actually, I was right as it wasn’t bad and, in some places, it was really very good. The film is an adaptation of a novella of the same name by Stephen King, which formed part of his ‘Four Past Midnight’ collection.
Depp plays Mort Rainey, an author who has separated from his wife and who retreats to a remote log cabin in order to write. Although he is struggling to get anything down on paper, Rainey is still not pleased to be interrupted by a visitor, who introduces himself as Shooter and accuses Mort of plagiarising his own publication, “Sowing Season”. Mort is surprised to see that there are striking similarities between “Sowing Season” and a story called “Secret Window” which he had published a few years earlier. The next time Shooter calls, Mort promises to provide him with the evidence that he had written his version first. Events take a nasty turn for the worse when Mort later discovers that his pet dog has been killed by a stab wound inflicted by a screwdriver. As Mort’s estranged wife begins to put pressure on him to finalise their divorce and the pressure to produce evidence of his work for Shooter, Rainey’s life begins to implode, with shocking consequences.
One of the things I love about Johnny is his ability to do quirky; Willy Wonka, Edward Scissorhands, Jack Sparrow. Mort Rainey is equally idiosyncratic; suffering from writer’s block, he is a slob, sleeps on the sofa, talks to himself and tries to hide his cigarette-smoking habit from his cleaner. As the links between Shooter and Rainey are revealed, the tension in the film really racks up and there are several ‘jump in your seat’ moments. Given that it’s Stephen King, I was prepared for a certain amount of suspense and gore and the movie delivered on both of those. In spades. Quite literally at one point.