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Advance Review: Open Windows

Photo from Nacho VIgalondo's Open Windows.
Open Windows photo.

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Open Windows zeroes in on Nick, a young man who is thrilled to discover that he has won a dinner date with his favorite celeb, Jill Goddard. After Nick is subsequently blown off by Goddard, he is contacted by her manager, Chord, who presents Nick the unique opportunity to spy on  Jill through her webcam. What Nick does not realize when he accepts the offer is that Chord’s intentions are much more sinister than he is letting on. Nick steps into a world where nothing is as it seems and no one is safe.

Let me start by saying that Open Windows is not straight horror but it does fall under the sub-heading of genre film. But, if you’re in the market for something extra bloody or exceedingly violent, this won’t fit the bill.

Open Windows stars Elijah Wood (Maniac) as Nick and Sasha Grey (Would You Rather) as Jill Goddard. It is co-written and directed by Nacho Vigalondo, who previously helmed the mind-bending sci-fi thriller Timecrimes. Vigalondo has his heart in the right place with Open Windows but his ambition often gets the best of him in this high tech thriller. The entire story is told from the POV of Nick’s laptop through a series of different web cams, security cameras, etc… Telling the story this way is innovative but it is not without its downfalls.

The first act of the film finds the camera angle constantly changing and shifting from one side of the screen to another. Also, there is a great deal of cross talk due to multiple conversations taking place at one time. The result is sometimes a bit dizzying. And the same can be said about the film’s plot line.

There are so many different reveals and so many different subplots that come together in aid of telling the primary story – many of which serve to overcomplicate the film. At some point, the picture tarts to lose its audience because it is constantly pulling the viewer in different directions – both through the serpentine fashion in which the story unfolds and by way of the constantly changing camera angles.

While the concept behind the film is great in theory, it’s not executed with the type of precision that is required to make the end result a success. Vigalondo’s aspirations are admirable but he falls short of what he ultimately sets out to do.

In spite of its shortcomings, Vigalondo’s film is not without its collective merits. For one: The script has some definite strong points. It provides ample commentary on our society’s obsession with celebrity culture and fame. It also presents a rough outline that has  great potential. Unfortunately, that potential is bogged down by a general lack of focus.

Also working in the film’s favor are the performances from its leads. Wood turns in a fine performance as Nick and Grey is not half bad as Jill. Neil Maskell (Kill List) is also quite good as Jill’s manager.  Wood is a smart choice for the lead role. Given the decision to present the film in the first person POV, he is on camera constantly and there are few actors I would more willingly spend 100 minutes of my life with. Unfortunately, his performance is not enough to keep the picture on course. The film is ultimately derailed by the schizophrenic nature inherent to both the script and the chosen method of storytelling.

I would suggest waiting for this one to hit the Netflix streaming platform before checking it out. But if you want to see it prior to that, Open Windows will see an October 2, 2014 VOD release which will be followed by a limited theatrical bow beginning November 7th.

WICKED RATING: 4.5/10  [usr 4.5]

Director(s): Nacho Vigalondo
Writer(s): Nacho Vigalondo, Daniel Mas
Stars: Elijah Wood, Sasha Grey, Neil Maskell
Release: October 2, 2014 (VOD), November 7, 2014 (Limited Theatrical)
Studio/ Production Co: Cinedigm
Language: English
Length: 100 Minutes
Sub-Genre: Thriller



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Written by Tyler Doupé
Tyler Doupe' is the managing editor at Wicked Horror. He has previously penned for Fangoria Mag, Rue Morgue Mag, FEARnet, Fandango, ConTV, Ranker, Shock Till You Drop, ChillerTV, ComingSoon, and more. He lives with his husband, his dog, and cat hat(s).
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