Movie Review: ‘Open Windows’ An Exercise in Form & Style That Reaches Too Far

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Preston Barta // Film Critic

OPEN WINDOWS | 99 min. | Rated R | Director: Nacho Vigalondo | Stars: Elijah Wood, Sasha Grey, Neil Maskell, Michelle Jenner, Julián Villagrán, Iván GonzálezScott Weinberg and Nacho Vigalondo

OPENS WINDOWS, set on Fantastic Fest’s home turf of Austin, is a Spanish-American production from writer-director Nacho Vigalondo. The film is told through a series of different browser windows on a computer screen where the characters are being manipulated by a mysterious man named Chord (Neil Maskell).

One of those characters who Chord brings into his game is Nick (Elijah Wood), a fan who won a contest to have a date with starlet Jill Goddard (Sasha Grey). Chord draws Nick in by granting him special access to Jill’s smart phone and computer, where he can see and hear everything the actress is doing. However, after Nick is caught peeping into their room by Jill’s boyfriend Tony (Iván González), Chord manipulates Nick into attacking Tony, which is all he needs to trap Nick into doing whatever he wants.

There is something really scary about OPEN WINDOWS. Perhaps it’s because the infamous iCloud hack wasn’t too long ago. It makes you scared to see where our world is heading, as far as technology goes, hacking, identity theft and lack of privacy. Are we truly safe? Do we really have our privacy? These are some of the questions that are raised after watching OPEN WINDOWS, and this is where the film strikes the right ‘chord.’

However, where the film loses its grip and falls off the deep end is in the final 20 minutes. There’s a certain point where they easily could have ended the film and it would have been an effective thriller. But instead, the final act gets rather ridiculous and loses all sight of logic. Well, really, there are many moments throughout that abandon all sites of reality– the way they get access to certain computers, can see through walls, etc. It’s a little farfetched, yet, before the final act, you’re still in for the ride.

The film should be commended for being a different movie experience (much like LOCKE this year with Tom Hardy), where it (in a way) takes place at one location – a computer. But it loses focus from what is really frightening. OPEN WINDOWS might make for an interesting Netflix rental, but the talent involved with the picture are better than the sum of this film’s parts.

OPEN WINDOWS is playing at the Alamo Drafthouse today.

About author

Preston Barta

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.