Directed & Written
In a technology driven world, Open Windows, directed by cult-Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo (Timecrimes, Extraterrestrial), should be a film that completely works with its use of multiple computer screen shots, smooth editing and a suspenseful screenplay. It does not. This film, which will probably be loved by fanboys, especially those enamored with Elijah Wood, and/or porn stars (Sasha Grey is in it), but it just does not come together in the finale. A film that, for the most part, is something fresh and unlike anything I have seen before, is cut down by a terrible plot twist and an overall ending that is sloppy and completely dull. Vigalondo gets credit for the impressive editing and Wood gives a reliable performance, but that ending was thoroughly disappointing.
The film has a minimal kinship with Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece Rear Window, but do not compare it to that wonderful, great film. Like with Hitchcock's film, which takes place from the sole point of view of a photographer (James Stewart) in his apartment where he witnesses a murder, but must find a way to solve it while in a wheelchair, Open Windows spends all of its time bouncing and shifting from various computer screens and mainly focuses on Nick Chambers (Elijah Wood). He is an Internet programmer who has won an Internet contest for a date with an actress of the moment Jill Goddard (Sasha Grey). He is allowed to eerily follow the actress through her computer from her so-called manager Chord, who really has hacked in to her computers and technology to get Nick to lead him to her. A decent setup that builds with suspense and intrigue.
The thing that really works in Open Windows is the multiple turns that occur throughout and the suspense that is brought forth through the performance and story with Elijah Wood's character Nick. The majority of the film takes place from his point of view, but interestingly, it is projected throughout multiple computer, tablet and mobile screens. For the most part, Nick is in his car, driving through the city of Austin, Texas. Suspense, stupidity and car chases ensue. All of this, and this is where I do not want to give too much away, is presented in a decent, well-made thriller. The car chase is particularly well done and all the suspense and thrills led from Nick spying on Jill, while she is being frightened, is exceptional. This is one of those films that is going along well, but then it tries to be too clever and special.
The biggest problem, and one that completely turns this ok film into junk, is this stupid plot twist in the conclusion. It 100% sucks. I thought it was joke and within the last twenty minutes of this film I wanted to walk out. It was so stupid and not to mention, with the exception of Wood, the acting is awful. You can tell that Grey worked with a class act with Steven Soderbergh in the good film The Girlfriend Experience, because she exhibits absolutely no talent in this film. She is terrible. And the direction this film went in at the end is so sloppy and awfully constructed. This is not a neo-Hitchcockian film! That is disrespectful. This is a thriller that loosely mirrored the plot of Rear Window, but is nowhere near the quality of that film. It is not even in the same universe. This is the prime example of a film that somewhat works through the first two-thirds of it, and then ruins everything with a terrible third act and some dismissive, horrible acting.
I will give some credit to Elijah Wood. Since his massive success with The Lord of the Rings films, he has placed a niche within the horror-thriller film world. Maniac, Cooties and Grand Piano have propelled him into a even more cult-like status, and I am sure Open Windows will add to that notion. I respect the fact that he seems to be doing the films he loves and is interested in making. He did an excellent job in this film, but the film just did not deliver in the end. The fanboys will love this, regardless of their indifference to quality filmmaking. Wood is in it and Vigalondo directed it, so they are required to like it. Be objective and realize when a film works and it does not.
I will also give some credit to the editing from Bernat Vilaplana. The film is formatted as one long take, taking place on what seems like a gigantic computer screen. There are little transitions. The camera moves up-and-down, side-to-side, from one event to the next. It is really unlike anything I have ever seen before. It can go from Nick driving, feeling afraid, to Jill being terrified by someone in her house, within the same frame. You have to see it to believe it. That sounds stupid, but it is true. It is quite impressive and the technology heavily influences the entire film. However, it does not do anything for the overall story and definitely the dismal ending.
Open Windows could have been better if more thought would have gone in to the final act. I thought Elijah Wood was good in this role, but everyone else was unacceptable. The film is not, and should not, be considered in the same realm as Hitchcock's Rear Window. All this talk about this being something more should stop. Get over your love of Vigalondo and Wood, and rate this film with honest merit and consideration. Shit, maybe it just did not work for me and did for others. Sorry, this was a serious disappointment, but I was not expecting anything too special.
Photo credit by IMDB.