As a renowned and beloved author suffering crippling writer’s block and holed up in his small but well appointed cottage in the woods in the wake of his marriage breakdown, Morton is extremely comfortable in his rut of self doubt. He sleeps the day away on his couch, pats his dog and stares at a blinking cursor with no apparent intent to type anything. Day after day after day.
Until a knock on his door finds Morton face to face with the steely gaze of John Shooter (John Turturro), an intense man who arrives with an ominous tone and an accusation of plagiarism. While Morton is secure in his own integrity and shuns Shooter’s initial encounter, Morton’s curiosity demands that he investigate. Using a copy of Shooter’s alleged writings, Morton traces his own work and finds that it is remarkably similar, to the point where the question of coincidence is moot.
But a breakthrough, when Morton realizes that his publishing date precedes the date on Shooter’s manuscript. All that remains is to contact the ex-wife (Maria Bello), locate the magazine issue where the work was published, and shove it right under Shooter’s serious nose.
But locating the magazine proves infinitely more difficult that it perhaps should have been, and Shooter quickly proves that it isn’t only his tone that was menacing, and furthermore that he is a very impatient man indeed.
As Morton flounders about his cabin with the knowledge of his innocence but no means of proof, he reaches for help from the only people he knows, his agent (Charles S Dutton) and his ex-wife, and her new beau (Timothy Hutton), a man with whom Morton shares an intense and mutual dislike.
The stakes do get raised frequently and quite dramatically, and Secret Window builds well, but it is ultimately a film that relies upon just how concerned we are that Morton can either clear his name or deal with the imposing Shooter more directly. I didn’t ever become caught up in the situation, but then again I didn’t sleep through them either. Another case of a Stephen King story being converted into a middling film.
Final Rating – 6.5 / 10. A harmless pseudo horror film with neither the tension nor the cleverness required to elevate it.