Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Directed by: Nacho Vigalondo
Written by: Nacho Vigalondo
Starring: Elijah Wood, Sasha Grey & Neil Maskell
OPEN WINDOWS is the second of three thrillers told through computer screens being released in the space of less than a year (THE DEN came this Spring and CYBERNATURAL hits early next year). This is not a horror film despite it taking a sort of found footage angle. Instead, this project was written and directed by Nacho Vigalondo. For those who have seen the man’s previous work, you know that he’s a strange guy with a stranger imagination. For those who haven’t seen the man’s previous work, I’m now informing you that he’s a strange guy with a stranger imagination. His creative segment in V/H/S: VIRAL was easily the best story featured in that mixed bag anthology. In OPEN WINDOWS, Nacho is given free rein to do whatever he wants with a semi-reasonable budget (judging from impressive production values) and it turns out to be a bit of a guilty pleasure. There are definitely significant issues with it, but I enjoyed OPEN WINDOWS to the extent that one can enjoy a flawed film that happens to be dumb as a rock.
Nick Chambers is the winner of an online contest to get a dinner date with rising star Jill Goddard. However, plans go awry when Jill skips out on their date. Lucky for Nick, he’s just become friends with a mysterious man named Chord. This technologically gifted stranger has the know-how to hack into Jill’s phone and spy on her. He enlists Nick into getting a bit of humiliating revenge on Jill, but it quickly becomes apparent that Chord has bigger (deadlier) plans for both Nick and Jill. Nick is thrust into an action-hero scenario as he becomes a man on a mission to save the day…and Jill.
OPEN WINDOWS has a really creative set-up. The perspective of watching a story like this play out from one man’s laptop and his webcam might seem like a bit of an annoyance from the on-set, but it’s a very fun gimmick. We’re given plenty of room for solid suspense, especially when Nick is forced to confront someone in the opening third that we see approaching through various hotel hallway cameras. This is a semi-chaotic style that actually works in the film’s favor. The pacing is good and there’s an air of excitement to everything, even when plot details become contrived and stupid in the final third. Elijah Wood was a good choice of unlikely hero, coming off as both nervous and willing to rise to the occasion to save a damsel in distress. Neil Maskell is well-cast as the masked villain who is almost a Batman-like villain in the real world. The same cannot be said for Sasha Grey as her delivery feels wooden and her portrayal of Jill is outright ditzy (borderline unlikable) as opposed to someone I wanted to survive.
Where OPEN WINDOWS falters is in a series of increasingly far-fetched coincidences that almost seem to turn the entire film into a Bond story told through found footage. Maskell also goes ludicrously over-the-top in his villain role by this conclusion. All he needed was a moustache to twirl and some train tracks to tie Sasha Grey to. The misguided addition of a group of comic relief hackers only serve to deliver exposition and guide Nick through plot points is just plain bad. OPEN WINDOWS becomes a very silly movie by the ending, even sillier than the material originally let on, but it’s also entertaining in a campy way.
Nacho’s latest movie is dumb as a rock, but there’s a decent amount of fun to be had. There’s a popcorn-munching enjoyment factor to OPEN WINDOWS that should be entertaining to fans of weird thrillers and silly action movies (as odd as that may sound going into this movie). The plot gets way too silly near the end, but it’s a fun time as a whole.