Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Fantastic Fest 2014 Review: OPEN WINDOWS - Javi's Take


Directed by: Nacho Vigalondo
Written by: Nacho Vigalondo
Starring: Elijah Wood and Sasha Grey
Synopsis: A disgruntled fan is blackmailed by an anonymous hacker to harass a famous actress. 

OPEN WINDOWS is very much a movie of its time. usually that's just a backhanded way of saying that a movie will be dated within another 5-10 years, but in this case, it's high praise. The movie, starring Elijah Wood and Sascha Grey, has the gimmick of a movie told completely through a computer window screen, and unlike some other movies with the same gimmick, it never breaks from the premise. Apart from being a creative approach to story telling, it's a commentary on how we live our lives without being preachy about it.

OPEN WINDOWS deals with Nick, who runs a fan site for a famous actress, Jill. Nick seems to have won a contest to be able to have meet-and-greet with the actress; however, she refused. He is then contacted by a man claiming to be Jill's manager, Chord, and so begins a series of increasingly dangerous and malevolent events all unfolding before us through Nick's computer.

As we see Nick being manipulated by Chord, the movie uses technology to showcase celebrity culture and harassment online where the lines between adoration and obsession can be very blurry. Despite seemingly a regular guy, when given the chance, Nick seems to actually want to go along with some of these requests. Chord at one point claims to want to help him "get revenge" on Jill for standing him up, an obvious stand-in for the way anonymous people online seem to think others, but especially celebrities owe them something.

The movie's breakneck pace seems intentional given the modern subject matter, and it keeps the viewer very engaged in the movie. Director Nacho Vigalondo said before the movie that you shouldn't go use the restroom otherwise you might miss something. As the movie goes on you see that Nick is just a pawn in a larger game, and the man on the other line is much more dangerous than it would appear. Through the movie, he gains access to Jill's camera on her phone and various utility functions as well. If you think about it, it's pretty scary for someone that's decent with a computer to have that kind of power and feels terribly relevant given some of the recent harassment cases that actresses and women have had to endure.

Both Grey and Wood do a fine job in their respective roles. Elijah relies on that innocent and frightened look that he can do so damn perfectly. But the acting in the movie is not the focus, the plot and the writing are the stars here. Unfortunately, while the movie has a great set up and execution, the last 15-20 minutes of the movie just kind of falter a little bit. There are twists on twists on twists while keeping the ADD-pace that the movie set since the beginning to the point that you can't really absorb or understand the implications of the plot twists.

Despite its weak third act, OPEN WINDOWS is a relevant movie for this Internet age that has the stamp of Brian DePalma thrillers set in the modern era. As any good director that uses a "gimmick," Nacho Vigalondo uses the computer screen format as a way to further the commentary that the movie is trying to get across. It's nice to see the director try something much more ambitious as his English-language debut, and it's a movie worth seeing.

OPEN WINDOWS is now available on Demand and VOD platforms such as Amazon, Google Play, and iTunes. 


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