Earlier in the year, Elijah Wood starred in a small little thriller called “Grand Piano,” in which he is a retired pianist listening to a man on an earpiece who is threatening his life if he gets any note wrong during his comeback concert. A film that premiered at SXSW this year is yet another indie Elijah Wood thriller called “Open Windows,” something that, when I first saw it, I found both more engaging and far superior to “Grand Piano.” This movie is about Nick Chambers, the owner of a fan website for Jill Goddard, the IT girl of Hollywood at the moment, who is rejected by said actress out of a dinner date that he won through a promotional campaign for her new film. In a flash, Nick is encountered by Chord, a man who at first says he is Jill’s publicist, who helps Nick hack into Jill’s electronic devices. Pretty soon, Nick realizes that Chord is really using Nick to merely hunt down and possibly kill Jill. Starring alongside Wood is porn star Sasha Grey, who might be best known outside of the porn industry for her work in Steven Soderbergh’s “The Girlfriend Experience.”
This is a movie that is unique in the way it’s presented, as the entire film is told from the perspective of Nick Chambers’ computer monitor. Honestly, though, that’s the biggest compliment I can give the film. Despite some solid work from Elijah Wood and Sasha Grey, “Open Windows” doesn’t go anywhere unique or interesting enough for me to actually care about what’s going on. I actually saw this film all the way back in March when I got sent a downloadable screener of the film for its premiere at SXSW, and I actually enjoyed it a lot back then. In fact, I at the time thought it was smarter and a lot better than “Grand Piano.” I figured I’d rewatch it again for the sake of writing the most accurate review possible, and boy was this a letdown on the second viewing.
The direction itself from director Nacho Vigalondo wasn’t that bad, as the performances from the two leads weren’t bad and there was a decent amount of suspense and mystery present throughout the film’s 100 minute duration. However, it’s the script that drove down the film in quality. Not only are some of the lines written poorly and the villain is terribly written, but there is a random subplot with this French organization talking to Nick while he’s talking with Chord thinking that Nick is Chord. I think it would have been more interesting as a viewer to have had all of my time focused on Nick talking to only Chord, and maybe writing a spin-off story for these other characters as they didn’t impact the story whatsoever. Not to mention, there are several twists that are in the movie that make absolutely no sense and just show that Vigalondo was trying to put in as many ideas as he could without giving the film the proper amount of time and the proper narrative to explore all of these characteristics.
Overall, “Open Windows” is purely a mixed bag for this critic. Despite a unique concept, some solid performances, and decent direction, there is just too much going on and too many things that bring the film down to just an average level. If this film had explained why the villain is doing what he’s doing, or maybe even diving deeper into his background and psychosis, then maybe the film would have elevated in quality. Not to mention, if the twists had been further explained and were more plausible in the overall outcome of the film then I think the film would have connected more with me as a viewer. “Open Windows” has a really interesting story and a clever storytelling technique, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that this really isn’t that great of a film in the long run.