Open Windows Review

Posted 7 years ago by myetvmedia

The internet is a scary place. As I write this, you could be googling my name, creeping my Facebook page, or if you’re particularly evil, hacking my bank account (note: don’t hack my bank account). Lord knows nothing on my phone is any safer – just ask poor J Law. The fact is, if you use a computer, you’re already screwed. And that’s downright chilling.

So it seemed just a matter of time until the thriller genre began migrating towards the tech world.‘The Net’, starring Sandra Bullock was twenty years ago. We still used Zack Morris phones back then. To steal a computer term, we’re due for an update. Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo agrees, and his new tech thriller ‘Open Windows’ taps directly into our phone phobias and hacker fears.

The name is a clever play on the Hitchcock classic, ‘Rear Window’; instead of Jimmy Stewart peering out the window of his apartment, Nick (Elijah Wood) uses his Microsoft Windows, peering through the digital glass into other people’s private worlds. It starts when an unknown hacker (Neil Maskell) gives Nick unlimited access to the computer and phone of his favourite starlet, Jill Goddard (former adult star Sasha Grey). At first, it’s like being handed the keys to stalker heaven. But as things get violent, Nick discovers he’s merely a pawn in someone else’s sick, twisted game.

Vigalondo has a lot of good stuff to work with, but nothing actually clicks. Take Nick’s willingness to play along, for instance. We’re meant to believe that he’s too swept up in the excitement to stop and ask questions, but who wouldn’t immediately say, “Who are you and how are you doing all this?” Which takes us to problem number two: hackers are good, but no one’s THAT good. Our villain works so quickly, and with such amazing results, that I’d be hard-pressed to believe a whole team could do what this one guy does. Even for a genre thriller, it’s a mighty large pill to swallow.

As the lead, Wood is disappointing. He never seems committed to the scenes, as if he remembered at the start of filming that he was the star of Lord of the Goddamn Rings. His screen partner, Sasha Grey, gives an adequate performance as the not-so-helpless victim. It’s not high praise, but if we’re being honest, it’s better than what we’d expect from an adult film star.

I’m disappointed that ‘Open Windows’ isn’t better, the time is right for a tech thriller to scare us back into the dial-up age. Vigalondo is a top-notch director. His time travel movie ‘Timecrimes’ is superb. ‘Open Windows’ is not the same calibre, we are asked to suspend belief a little too much for comfort and the story loses momentum and our attention when it shouldn’t. Frankly, I was more scared of my computer after watching ‘Her’.

Open Windows had its Toronto debut at Toronto After Dark on Monday the 20th of October.

Nimy Leshinski

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