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Secret Window

A movie directed by David Koepp

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Depp is amazing in this story of a life turned upside down.

  • Mar 11, 2004
  • by
Pros: Depp

Cons: Conclusion is matter of fact

The Bottom Line: Depp is amazing and is the reason to see this film.

Mort Rainey (Johnny Depp) is a man with problems. Six months after learning of his wife’s infidelity, Mort is facing a nasty divorce and suffering through a bad case of writers block. For a best-selling writer used to the spotlight, Mort has withdrawn to a secluded cabin in upstate New York and spends his time sleeping and consuming alcohol while he wallows in self-pity and attempts to go on with his writing unaware of the bizarre events that are about to come in the new film “Secret Garden”.

One morning, a visitor named John Shooter (John Turturro), arrives at Mort’s home and accuses him of stealing one of his stories. Mort is unaware of what the man is accusing him of, and despite Shooter’s threats, Mort is ready to dismiss him as some deranged fan.

Mort soon discovers that the manuscript Shooter gave him as proof is a word for word replica of one of his own short stories and attempts to get the proof that his story was published years before the draft Shooter wrote.

Despite a promise to Rainey to allow three days for the proof to arrive, Shooter continues to harass and intimidate Rainey at every opportunity. When the intimidation becomes violent Rainey turns to an investigator (Charles Dutton), to resolve the situation, as the local Sheriff is not a viable option.

In the midst of all of this, Mort is being pressured by his soon to be ex wives lover (Timothy Hutton), to sign the divorce papers and get out of the picture so he can have Amy (Maria Bello), to himself.

Things then quickly spiral out of control as it becomes apparent that Shooter is a very dangerous man and he will stop at nothing including murder to get Rainey to publish the story he claims was stolen from him and fix the ending in the process.

Based on the Novella Secret Window Secret Garden by Stephen King that was published in the anthology Four Past Midnight, screenwriter David Koepp has crafted a tale that is very faithful to the King story and provides a good vehicle for Depp to showcase his talents. The story is a web that is ever changing and keeps you interested as the tension mounts. The biggest issue I had with the film is that it followed the original story to closely.

I say this because the conclusion of the original story was a very matter of fact situation as the outcome unfolded without too many surprises. The same applies for the films as there are no jarring events or surprise twists that take the viewers by surprise. The events of the conclusion are laid out prior to the confirmations of events and it is easy to see where it is going as every clue has been practically handed to the audience in bright neon.

That being said, the film is entertaining and Depp shows that he is a talent that is finally being appreciated by mainstream Hollywood. Depp has been know as a master of portraying bizarre and complex characters and is now being given the chance to shine in mainstream films without sacrificing his integrity. For Depp alone, I suggest seeing the film.


Gareth Von Kallenbach
International Association of Film Critics


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July 09, 2011
Great review and I totally agree with you that Depp is amazing in his performance.
More Secret Window reviews
Quick Tip by . July 09, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Being an avid Johnny Depp fan, I watched this movie for the 50th time again last night. Based on Steven King's "Secret Window Secret Garden" this film is one that I can watch over and over again and still be entertained.                                                      Depp plays author Mort Rainey who …
review by . November 07, 2009
Some windows should never be opened...
I've seen psychological thriller's that try to scare you more than melt your brain, this one I'm proud to say does both. It's a very, very malicious and haunting thrill machine. I t brings the very essence of how horror and Psycho thriller's are suppose to be done, not with over the top gore and CGI, but with old school conventional means.          Secret Window is as sinister as it is smart it rolls along at a very steady pace and brings more to the table than what …
review by . April 30, 2009
Mort Rainey (Johnny Depp) a writer in a remote house in upstate New York, encounters an "apparent" fan, a character named Shooter (John Turturro). Shooter has accused Mort of stealing his story and threatens to kill Mort and everyone he may have ever known if he doesn't fix the situation.       Mort hires a special investigator (Charles Dutton to locate Mr. Shooter and try to stop him.       Shooter begins affecting Mort and his life almost immediately, …
review by . January 26, 2009
Johnny Depp plays a strange character in this movie. I am not going into much detail on this review because I don't want to spoil the movie for anyone that intends on watching it. To give a brief summary Johnny Depp catches his wife cheating on him at the beginning of the movie and they separate and file for divorce. He is a successful author and is working on him next book when a man shows up at his front door and complains that he stole his story years ago. This man threatens and continues to …
review by . November 15, 2008
Secret Window
Back in 1990 Stephen King wrote a fairly forgettable short story in his "Four Past Midnight" collection (more widely known for the story 'The Langoliers') called "Secret Window, Secret Garden." Fourteen years later it comes to sighing, whispering life on the screen, portrayed with excellent acting and a very clean script.     Johnny Depp has morphed into a truly great actor, talented and versatile, and he brings Mort Rainey's quirky writer's personality into a fully fleshed out …
review by . November 17, 2008
This is a typical Stephen King story, well adapted for the big screen, and held together by the intriguing and extremely talented Johnny Depp. Depp plays Mort Rainey, author of a novel titled "Secret Window", who is suffering from writer's block, nicotine withdrawal symptoms and being nearly divorced from his wife (Maria Bello, looking the opposite of Coyote Ugly)     The title of this review has a triple translation. The first is because Mr. Depp is so good in it; the second …
review by . March 04, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
Mort Rainey (Johnny Depp) a writer in a remote house in upstate New York, encounters an "apparent" fan, a character named Shooter (John Turturro). Shooter has accused Mort of stealing his story and threatens to kill Mort and everyone he may have ever known if he doesn't fix the situation.     Mort hires a special investigator (Charles Dutton to locate Mr. Shooter and try to stop him.     Shooter begins affecting Mort and his life almost immediately, Mort's …
review by . February 04, 2005
Pros: Johnny Depp     Cons: .........     The Bottom Line: ______________     Well now.       Original storyline? No. Incredible delivery? Yes.       I won’t try to blow smoke up your bum, this would be just another Stephen King book brought to the screen in a mildly amusing manner if it wasn’t for Johnny Depp. It’s not like the story itself is original, although King adds his own whimsical …
review by . February 01, 2005
Secret Window, is listed as suspense rather than the usual horror label, an adaptation of a Stephen King story, "Secret Window, Secret Garden". But with a cast featuring Johnny Depp, John Tuturro and Charles Dutton, I thought this movie would be worth the effort. And it is, as far as the acting concerned, but the acting seriously outweighs the quality of the screenplay, which begins promisingly enough, but fails to deliver much in the way of ongoing suspense. However, there is an uneven tension …
review by . July 19, 2004
Pros: Johnny Depp - pretty scenery     Cons: The plot - the dialogue - could not be taken seriously     The Bottom Line: This should win a Golden Turkey Award. Bad story, bad acting, just all around a let down.     I am a fan of Johnny Depp. I enjoy his acting and seek out his films. He always brings a unique perspective to his work which I enjoy. I am also a big fan of John Turturro and have seen almost all of his films. Again, he brings …
About the reviewer
Gareth Von Kallenbach ()
Ranked #111
I am a syndicated movie & game critic, writer, author and frequent radio guest. My work has appeared in over 60 publications worldwide and he is the creator of the rising entertainment site "Skewed … more
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About this movie


Starring Johnny Depp, Maria Bello, John Turturro, Timothy Hutton
Directed by David Koepp
Writer:  David Koepp (screenplay) Stephen King (story)
Based on the short story "Secret Window, Secret Garden" by Stephen King

Product Description
Mort rainey a writer just coming off a troublesome divorce with his ex-wife amy finds himself stalked at his remote lake house by a psychotic stranger who claims mort stole his best story idea (changing just the ending). Based on a steven king novel: secret window secret garden. Studio: Sony Pictures Home Ent Release Date: 09/20/2005 Starring: Johnny Depp Maria Bello Run time: 96 minutes Rating: Pg13
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Director: David Koepp
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama
Release Date: March 12, 2004
MPAA Rating: PG-13
DVD Release Date: June 22, 2004
Runtime: 1hr 46min
Studio: Columbia Pictures Corporation, Grand Slam Productions
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