Open Windows (2014) DVD Review

openwindowsOpen Windows (2014)

Director: Nacho Vigalondo

Writer: Nacho Vigalondo

Starring: Elijah Wood, Sasha Grey, Neil Maskell

Run time: 100 mins

Out 27th April UK From Koch Media

Nick Chambers (Wood) wins an online competition, the prize? A dinner with his favourite actress Jill Goddard (Grey). But after Jill abruptly cancels, he is given the opportunity to spy on her via his laptop; very soon Nick is dragged into a dangerous world full of computer hacking, kidnapping and even, murder!

At the start of Open Windows we are given a look at the film within the film, “Dark Sky: The Third Wave”, and there’s a moment in which Jill Goddard’s character utters the line “Stop thinking!” well if you want to really enjoy this film and it’s frankly ludicrous plot then that’s exactly what you need to do, switch your brain off, sit back and enjoy the ride.

ow1That’s normally an excuse people use to defend bad films isn’t it? You’ve got to turn your brain off to enjoy it. Well Open Windows isn’t a bad film, in fact I quite enjoyed it, but it’s just that the plot becomes so outlandish towards the end that to question it is completely pointless, the film is still an intriguing and tense thriller and I’m not going to chastise it just because the writer dared to dream a little bigger.

Open Windows is largely based around a gimmick, the gimmick being that we barely ever leave Nick Chambers’ laptop screen, we see most of the action through the “open windows” on his desktop, it’ a gimmick that for the most part works, it’s stretched in parts but it never outstays it’s welcome. It’s a very interesting and original twist on the found-footage genre. Oh and just something that I need to point out to UKHS readers, this is not a horror film, so don’t watch this expecting to see scares or gore, you have been warned.

The performances are all pretty solid, Wood plays the geeky and panicky Nick perfectly, Neil Maskell is spot-on as the fiendish villain Chord and Sasha Grey stand out as actress Jill, there are many layers to her performance and she effortlessly switches from an apparently vacuous movie star, to a damsel in distress and then finally to someone who is very capable and cool in the face of danger.

Director Nacho Vigalondo also tries to inject the film with a bit of depth and explore themes such as privacy, technophobia, misogyny, exploitation and fame. While not all of these themes are examined in nearly enough detail, it’s still nice to see Vigalondo try to add a bit of weight to what is quite clearly a simple popcorn flick.

ow2Open Windows is a film very much of its time, it shows a very distorted and disturbing reflection of the modern world. As I said before, you will have to switch your brain off to accept some of the crazier aspects of the plot but once you do you’ll find a film that is a suitable tension builder and one that I personally enjoyed.

7/10

Elijah Wood & Sasha Grey in ‘Open Windows’ UK DVD & VOD

openwindowsOPEN WINDOWS
Out on DVD 20th April
Released Digitally 13th April

From revered horror writer/director Nacho Vigalondo, comes the “fiendishly inventive” follow-up to modern cult favourites TIMECRIMES and segment ‘A’ of THE ABCs OF DEATH…

Director
Nacho Vigalondo

Cast
Elijah Wood (Maniac, Sin City, Lord of the Rings Trilogy)
Sasha Grey (The Girlfriend Experience, Would You Rather)
Neil Maskell (Kill List, TV series ‘UTOPIA’)

Open Windows is released in the UK on VOD 13th April and DVD 20th April from Koch Media.

You can order the DVD now from Amazon UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Open-Windows-DVD-Elijah-Wood/dp/B00ST9QSKK/

SYNOPSIS

When Nick (Elijah Wood) discovers that he’s won a dinner date with his favorite star Jill Goddard (Sasha Grey), he’s incredibly excited to finally get the chance to meet her. That excitement deflates when Jill refuses to honour the contest and all of Nick’s hopes are dashed. He’s intrigued when Chord (Neil Maskell), a man claiming to be Jill’s campaign manager, offers him something he can’t quite refuse: Chord will give Nick the ability to constantly view Jill via computer. Nick is initially reluctant but ultimately cannot resist the opportunity to gain unlimited access to the woman of his dreams. However, Nick soon learns that everything comes at a price, and what starts as the realisation of his fantasies soon becomes a nightmare that puts him and Jill in serious danger.

openwindows2OPEN WINDOWS takes the techno thriller further, borrowing its playbook from classic voyeuristic films such as REAR WINDOW (1954) and PEEPING TOM (1960). Spanish genre trickster Nacho Vigalondo (“Timecrimes,” “Extraterrestrial”) combines all these cinematic elements and cultural influences to tell a lurid tale of celebrity obsession, blackmail and murder; with plenty of clever twists delivered in an intricately designed cyber world – not too unfamiliar to the audience.

The film stars Elijah Wood, once again playing against a type established with the hugely successful LORD OF THE RINGS Trilogy. OPEN WINDOWS is evidence again of his range and love for cult sci-fi and horror, following on from his recent performances in MANIAC (2012) and GRAND PIANO (2013).

QUOTES

“Elevates Hitchcockian suspense to jittery new levels of mayhem and paranoia.” Variety

“Hugely impressive” Sci Fi Now

“Inventive” UK Horror Scene

“Open Windows is a thrilling and suspenseful” HeyUGuys

“Taut and tense thrill-ride that with some of the most impressive filmmaking techniques seen in many a year.” Flickering Myth

“Plays a like a high tech Hitchcock thriller, with Elijah Wood excelling at the ‘wrong man’ Movie Ramblings

Open Windows (2014) Review

FF bannerOpen_Windows_poster[1]Open Windows (2014)

Dir: Nacho Vigalondo

Written By: Nacho Vigalondo

Starring: Elijah Wood, Sasha Grey, Neil Maskell, Iván González

100 mins.

UK release: Frightfest 2014

Following her refusal to have dinner with a competition winner, a diva actress finds herself at the mercy of a hacker and the unsuspecting man he’s chosen to do his bidding.

Much like the similarly-themed The Den, which also screened at Frightfestthis year, Elijah Wood vehicle Open Windows is presented entirely via computer screens. Where The Den utilised this gimmick to create tension and a sense of claustrophobia, Open Windows establishes a race against time that begins almost as soon as its protagonist first logs on.

Wood, who is quickly making a name for himself in genre pictures following a star turn in Franck Khalfoun’s stunning 2012 Maniac reboot, is Nick, a normal guy who runs a website in support of popular actress Jill Goddard (Sasha Grey). After winning a competition to have dinner with Jill, Nick suddenly finds himself at the mercy of a ruthless hacker who can control pretty much any electronic device within a certain remit, including Nick’s computer, Jill’s mobile phone and every laptop in a ten mile radius. Although he’s clearly an evil genius, the hacker (voiced by Kill List’s Neil Maskell, weirdly enough) speaks with a thick Cockney accent, meaning much of his dialogue comes across a bit funnier than is perhaps intended.

Open_1[1]A decent premise is stretched slightly thin over a 100-minute running time, but Wood is an enigmatic screen presence and he does desperate, weak everyman well. Grey, last seen overacting in the rather good Would You Rather, is a good fit for the spoilt Jill, a woman who believes she’s worth far more than she is, and whose strength of character is perhaps a bit lacking. She overacts once again, even when she’s starring in the film within the film, but she seems more comfortable here at least. There’s a nod to her previous career as a porn star too, which hints that maybe she’s got a sense of humour about herself.

Written and directed by Timecrimes’ Nacho Vigalondo, who also contributed a segment to V/H/S: Viral, Open Windows is a fast-paced, understandably silly film that believes its plot is much cleverer than it actually is. The Den took a bigger risk by limiting the action to one PC monitor and one woman. Open Windows branches out by encompassing every screen in L.A. and, at times, it feels almost too inclusive. Vigaolondo may be making a point about privacy and internet security, but the film doesn’t seem to really understand either. A subplot, involving a Paris-based group of hackers, provides much-needed respite from Nick’s troubles, as the dudes in question believe him to be a legendary terrorist known as Nevada, and consistently refer to him by that title in spite of how irritated he gets. In a film that seems to take itself more seriously than is necessary, it’s a nice addition.

With a minimal score, and absolutely zero jump scares, Open Windows is a refreshingly low key thriller. There’s an inventive, albeit slightly unrealistic, twist and the tension is built remarkably well considering Wood spends most of his time talking to a various screens. The technology may be a bit out there, but it’s still fun to marvel at, even if the majority of people will roll their eyes at how easily each device is comprised – although, in the wake of the iCloud leak, it may be more true to life than we can imagine. The biggest issue is that, without giving in to the madness, it’s difficult to get lost in the narrative and there are some who will refuse to buy into the terror plot at all, because it is overcomplicated and outlandish.

Open_2[1]Open Windows is a diverting enough flick, once the required suspension of disbelief is attained, and the leads are likeable, but IT experts best steer clear – there are moments when even the most dim computer user will call bullshit over what the mysterious hacker seems to be able to control.

Rating: 6/10