Open Windows Blu-ray Review
The world of filmmaking has opened up in a way I never thought possible when I first started watching movies as a kid. The YouTube generation, iPhones and other smartphones with High Definition cameras that fit in your pocket, GoPro cameras and the like… the world is a very different place than it was when I was growing up and hardly anyone had a video camera, let alone access to a place to show your film. OPEN WINDOWS is, in some ways, about what happens when this type of access goes horribly wrong and one man is trapped in the middle.
Have you ever worried about being on the receiving end of an elaborate online prank? Or what if what you experienced wasn’t a prank, but instead was real and was happening before your eyes on the internet – the land where nobody really exists yet everyone is present and accounted for ten times over…? OPEN WINDOWS take a fairly basic premise and with some decent writing and gutsy filmmaking realizes something larger-budget films shoot for but rarely achieve…. It’s the type of movie that works as an independent film primarily because it CAN and WILL be made. OPEN WINDOWS feels like a story that needed to be told and thus is a reflection of the times in which we live.
The story of OPEN WINDOWS is the story of one special night in the life of Nick Chambers (played by Frodo errr. Elijah Wood). He runs a borderline stalker web site for a famous actress, Jill Goddard (pornography star Sasha Grey), and is invited to a convention because he won a ‘dinner-with-a-star’ contest and a chance to meet this woman he’s been following. Right before the big event, though, he’s told Goddard has decided to cancel and then he finds out the reason (by tapping into her phone) and he’s initially a little bit angry and hurt. He’s just filmed an introduction for her per the hotel’s instructions (a clever, organic way to get some pesky exposition out of the way early).
From there the story is set on a path that is welcome to neither Nick nor the audience but… it is at the least an important film for the ideas it proposes and for the mirror it holds up to the world in which we now live. Nick is suddenly contacted (through a brilliant bit of potentially impossible hackery) by an unknown who seems to bot know Nick and to be able to see exactly what he is doing at that very moment. Instead of turning off his computer, though, or calling the cops Nick is compelled to move forward until he loses complete control and the inertia sof the situation he has helped to create gains so much momentum it begins pulling him along.
When things start to go south for Nick, Chord is always one step ahead. He manipulates his position of power and the vast amount of information available at his fingertips to challenge Nick to take action, initially to help this woman with whom he seems obsessed but quickly the audience realizes (too long before Nick, in one of the film’s fatal flaws) that this “Chord” isn’t trying to help him at all. Is Nick really going to help Chord? Is he terrorized by this anonymous menace or is he actually kind of enjoying what is happening to him?
These are the questions central to OPEN WINDOWS plot and character development, which are both helped greatly by lovely performances from Wood and Grey who, respectively, could not have had more different career paths to get to this point. Grey was initially an interesting, if perhaps gimmicky, choice for her transition into mainstream films (both in this indie and in her first high-level crossover vehicle THE GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE by Steven Soderberg). Too bad OPEN WINDOWS gives up on the subtle irony of the first act and decides to become a full-fledged horror thriller complete with ‘unkillable omnipotent generic bad guy’, which destroys OPEN WINDOWS creativity and makes the entire thing a bore. Instead we’re left with a mostly forgettable indie that won’t be seen by many.
Video: (1080p Widescreen 1.78:1) OPEN WINDOWS looks like it was shot on a very low-end digital video camera and while the transfer may have been stylistically important to the director it doesn’t do anything to heighten the mood or immerse the viewer.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) Audio quality for OPEN WINDOWS is ultimately superior to the video presentation but still has a pretty low dynamic range.
The Making of OPEN WINDOWS (15:51) A standard ‘making of’ extra, this features interviews with cast and crew talking about their work on OPEN WINDOWS. There is some neat behind the scenes footage but nothing really compelling.
Visual Effects Reel (01:44) On a movie like OPEN WINDOWS this one really didn’t strike me as being necessary or at all fun to watch as there is a dearth of efx in the film.
OPEN WINDOWS also features the Trailer (01:20) for the film.