Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.
Preston Barta // Film Critic
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.