An actress named Jill refuses to have dinner with Nick, a fan who won a date with her in an Internet contest. In return, a guy named Chord, posing as Jill's campaign manager, helps Nick to follow in the footsteps of the actress from his own computer. Nick starts a game in which he realizes that he is only a puppet into the maniacal plans devised by Chord, to hunt down the star. Written by
Vigalondo was inspired to create Open Windows after he was asked to create a thriller that heavily featured the Internet. He found writing the script a challenge, as he had to create the film's plot as well as give specific reasons for each window that opened and why the point of view would shift between the characters. See more »
An ambitious cyberthriller smothered by its own convolution
Open Windows concerns an unassuming young man named Nick Chambers (Elijah Wood) wins a contest to meet Jill Godard (Sasha Grey) and enjoy a fine dinner with her. Nick has been the webmaster of a fansite dedicated to Jill, rare photos of her, gossip, and information about her forthcoming films for years, and is waiting in his hotelroom for information about the dinner when Chord (Neil Maskell), Jill's manager, calls and informs him that the contest was canceled by Jill. Nick sets before his laptop, shocked and soulcrushed at his misfortune until Chord sends Nick a private link that houses the interworkings of Jill's cellphone. Chord has hacked into her personal phone and allows Nick the ability to spy on her activity, phone calls, files, camera, and general whereabouts from hereon out. With this power comes great irresponsibility, and Nick quickly finds himself learning of Jill's illicit affair with her agent, in addition to being dictated by a group of hackers who force Nick on the darkest, and most life-threatening, ride of his life.
Open Windows premiered at South By Southwest film festival eerily close to the limited theatrical release date of The Den, its most comparable, and much superior, film counterpart. Where The Den was a slowburn film, which focused on a young webcam girl conducting a social experiment who was quickly lured into the dark, deathly parts of the web, Open Windows is a needlessly complicated, scatterbrained film complete with so many plotthreads, shifts in focus, changes in point-of-view, and overcomplicated storytelling that it doesn't take long for this film to breed complete indifference.
Unfortunately, being the writer and director of this project, Nacho Vigalondo, one of horror's latest contemporaries alongside people like Ti West and Adam Wingard, bears most of the blame for the shortcomings of Open Windows. His first, and ultimately most significant problem, is he doesn't keep the film focused on Nick. After about twenty minutes of keeping the attention solely on Nick, Vigalondo changes to show us the point-of-views of these nasty hackers, in addition to Jill, muddling the entire focus of the film because now we know way too much about the plot. Largely confining the point-of-view to Nick would've made the film much more of a mystery rather than a film that feels the need to inform of us of every trick of its sleeve so early on.
In an attempt to juggle three distinct points-of-views, humanize all the characters and justify their actions, and continue "opening windows" on Nick's computer, Vigalondo's balancing act falls apart when you realize that there's simply too much chaos going on in the film to truly decipher and divide your attention to. On top of everything else, the entire corporate spy/hacker angle comes way out of left field for a film that, at the end of it all, is really trying to be a somewhat sleazy, yet marginally inventive, cyberthriller.
The most commendable attributes of the film come in the two leading talents, who fit so snugly into their roles they could be put to sleep. Elijah Wood is perfect as the conflicted webmaster, questioning the ethics of his spying actions whilst simultaneously relishing in the thought of all the unique content and information he's getting for the website, while Sasha Grey is perfect because of the glaring personal connection. With Grey working in the porn industry, being one of the most involved and daring mainstream performers, Grey undoubtedly found herself a great deal of attention from strangers online, let alone around her. Grey's evident empathy make Jill that much more of an intriguing character, despite her being encapsulated in a film that's too messy to really show her or say anything about her character.
Open Windows, in short, is a mess; a film with a very strong idea and a solid opening twenty-five minutes that rapidly descends into a muddled and, in turn, uninteresting spy thriller. Vigalondo's overall goal of wanting to make a cyberthriller about infidelity (akin to Mike Nichols' exceptional Closer, so he claims) and a film more substantial to the genre is an admirable mindset, but when a film is this confusing and scatterbrained, you ultimately wish that he would've stuck to a more linear outline and created a film that was average rather than frustrating.
Starring: Elijah Wood, Sasha Grey, and Neil Maskell. Directed by: Nacho Vigalondo.
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