Yet another failed Stephen King adaptation, “Secret Window” is like “Misery” dumbed down and without any of its deliciously dark humour. The novella admittedly was one of King’s least memorable and despite proven writer David Koepp adapting it and delivering arguably his best directing job so far, he can’t overcome the source’s initial problems, in fact he brings them along as baggage.
Characters come and go as needed with only the lead getting any real development. Combine that with the admittedly interesting two-storey cabin and surrounding forest setting in which 85% of the film takes place, and you’ve got a theatrical production which, for a good part of the film anyway, is essentially a one-man stage play.
Thankfully that man is Johnny Depp. The ‘reinvented’ Depp who’s back in mainstream success thanks to ‘Pirates’, is in practically every shot and delivers all sorts of interesting quirks of his character from frequent sleeping bouts and shoddy dresswear, to a fiery dark underside and a sly sense of wit.
It’s his movie and he dominates it well, if it weren’t for him this probably wouldn’t have made it past a video shelf let alone a theatrical release as all the others from Mario Bello to Timothy Hutton have nothing to do. Charles Dutton does have some nice scenes as a likeable detective who never seems to be doing his job, whilst Turturro’s menacing Shooter comes across somewhat silly more than anything else thanks to a hokum accent.
The initial setup is interesting and Depp portrays a good mix of believable apprehension and frustration being in his position both professionally and geographically, but once the setup is in place it doesn’t really go anywhere with them whilst the twist towards the end is so cliched and predictable it’s laughable, but before that the film has gone off the deep end into cheesiness. On technical fronts the film looks fine and from such a simple set it manages to look quite well-textured, but none of it can overcome the lameness of the all too dated material.