Open Windows (2014)

Action, Crime, Thriller
Elijah Wood, Sasha Grey, Neil Maskell, Michelle Jenner
A jilted fan is pulled into a a world of cat-and-mouse danger after accepting an invitation to spy on his favorite actress via computer.
Open Windows is undeniably ambitious; unfortunately, director Nacho Vigalondo's reach far exceeds his grasp.
  • Cinedigm Digital Cinema Company:
  • N/A Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 02 Oct 2014 Released:
  • N/A DVD Release:
  • N/A Box office:

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Just sat through this at London's Frightfest1/10
OK, the most frightening aspect of this film is that it was actually included in today's line-up at London's Frightfest.

Not scary, not thrilling, just extremely tedious. The director got caught up in his gimmicky virtuoso approach to a sub-par screenplay with a mildly interesting premise. At one point things got so convoluted and ludicrous that he attempted to claw his way out of the plot contrivances hole he dug himself in, not with one, but with two car chase sequences.

During the Q&A people left 'en-masse', brutal but necessary payback.

What a stinking mess!
God bless Nacho Vigalondo5/10
God bless Nacho Vigalondo ('Timecrimes' / 'Extraterrestrial'); he is a madman in person and in practice. 'Open Windows' is another attempt at an unconventional, high-concept thriller exploring the medium of film at its heart - action through time - and in ways that no one else has even conceived of. Elijah Wood's character is set up in a hotel in Austin having won a sweepstakes to meet his favorite actress, played by Sasha Grey - who, based on some of her IMDb titles ('Anal Artist' / 'Pop Goes the Weasel' / 'House of Ass 3'), isn't likely a Disney alum. When Wood is notified by her representative, 'Chord', that she has canceled their meeting and that being rude to her fans is nothing new, as a supposed retaliation, he's presented with the opportunity for remote access to the actress' laptop, phone, and webcam.

The film doesn't take much time dealing with the ethics of spying on someone but, rather, jumps right into a fast-passed thrill ride that has Wood's character jumping for A to B to C as Chord's true intentions unfold. The story is told in real-time, almost entirely on the screen of a laptop, with practical cameras following multiple events, and various plot points reveled through pop-up windows on the screen. The film was cleverly introduced as a modern-day 'Rear Window' and the gimmick does work; it took some time to get used to but, the tension ramps up quickly and, though the format is pivotal to the story, you almost forget that you're watching anything but a standard narrative. Unfortunately, it's the technology within the narrative that stretches disbelief a bit too far as the twists and turns become more and more bizarre. I'm always curious to see what Vigalondo has up his sleeve and his ambitions did not disappoint but the limitations he imposes on himself as a filmmaker seem to have pushed the state of modern technology into the realm of 'fantasy' which distracts from what is, otherwise, an inventive hostage/who-dun-it scenario.
Nice opening but it falls sinking down after some minutes4/10
Winning an online contest with the prize of dinner with his favorite actress Jill, Nick prepares himself in his hotel room. A man naming himself Chord informs him that Jill cancels the dinner for no reason and sends him hacked live streams on Jill, saying that this would compensate him. Coincidentally Jill is meeting her secret lover Tony at Nick's hotel, so Chord hacks Nick's camera to view their room. When Tony gets suspicious and heads to Nick's room, Chord guides Nick to knock Tom out and get out of the hotel. A French hacker team Triops contacts Nick, thinking he is the notorious hacker Nevada. Confused, Nick ignores them. Chord starts to threaten Nick that he'll hurt Jill if Nick doesn't do what he says. Chord has the unconscious Tony tied as hostage to force Jill to strip, using Nick to relay his commands.

When Triops contacts again revealing their faces, Nick asks them to peek into his laptop and they cut the connection from Chord to Nick. Chord storms in and kidnaps Jill. Nick and Triops searches for Chord and find that Chord is actually Nevada, whom Triops were to help. They get back helping Nick after he threatens to spread their faces to the police. They lead Nick to follow Chord's car which later gets into an accident, with Jill in the trunk. A video feed at Nevada's servers shows that Chord and Nevada are actually two different persons and that Chord tricked Nevada to get his servers and get revenge on Jill. Chord goes to Nick's car and kills him. He then stream a live feed on the tied up up Jill with a time bomb set in the room, which attracts millions of visitors. Chord says he'll stop the bomb if more than fifty percent of the viewers leave the site. The bomb explodes in time as only about ten percents do so.

Chord tells Jill he showed her how the world viewed her. Jill persuaded Chord to make a 'good ending' on it but uses her chance to escape. It is futile as Chord easily recaptures her and ties her again. But then Chord receives a call. It's actually Nevada, still alive and angry at him. Nevada showed that Nick is still alive, so Chord get out of his hideout to check Nick's car. Nevada reveals that he's changed his face to look like Nick, and uses a recording to lure Chord out while he frees Jill and set the place on fire as Chord goes back in. Chord dies in the fire as they walk away.

The story at first looked like it's going to be just another fanatic stalker movie. It then adds in the elements of hackers, blackmail and manipulation into the whole movie, which quite nicely colors it but didn't necessarily revive it from sinking dumbly after a few moments. There is so many illogical and unrealistic things about the technological aspects this movie is presenting, which is quite a joke considering that the hacker tech world is completely logical and realistic to approach. A video camera is hacked to be viewing x-ray and long range focused audio? How can a remote software hack increase the hardware technology like that is completely stupid.

The take on the cinematography using the camera angles on the video feeds and viewing it at the laptop screen is quite interesting at first sight. But it soon find obstacles in screen sizes, supposedly realistic resolution problems and the panning dilemma on the focus from one OS window to another. It kind of feels like the movie betrayed its own style when the plot goes outside any rooms and t gets less view on the multiple windows on screen but more focus on a single camera, even if it's still in a CCTV styled shot. Also, one major problem is the lighting. The movie doesn't have to be so dark lit.

The plot kind of drifts unclearer as the stretched story is abruptly re- thinned when the Triops team just suddenly disconnects with only saying sorry. The twists with separating Chord and Nevada is quite nice that it throws off the assumptions that audiences might form earlier as the Triops appears. But the end twist with Nevada is just plainly confusing, not to mention that it's literally stupid.

The acting is just a so-so overall. We do see Elijah Wood's effort in getting into character surrendering and being manipulated to do wrong on his favorite star. Sasha Grey is a weird call for me to judge, considering that she didn't have to act to be a star, and to shoot nude scenes; but her expressions still fall off the standards.

I say I kind of agree with those voices scoring this movie a 4 out of 10. A recommendation is a definite no. If only the story has itself a more solid bridging between the decent opening and the later stages, I think the movie could be better.
Bonkers high-tech thriller that eventually overreaches itself6/10
I watched writer/director Nacho Vigalondo's Timecrimes a few years ago and was very impressed by the film generally, but especially by the unabashed ambition and imagination on display in what was a first feature-length effort. Open Windows demonstrates that Vigalondo's ambition and imagination is undiminished, but he could do with a little more restraint.

The set-up has echoes of Rear Window and Phone Booth, as Elijah Wood's super-fan Nick (a supposed competition-winner in town for a meeting with his favourite actress) finds himself let down. The curiously London-accented "campaign manager" for said actress (equally curiously named Chord) gets in touch, but evidently has motives of his own as he begins to manipulate Nick. The situation gets increasingly disturbing as the suspiciously tech-savvy Chord continuously ups the ante. To summarise the plot from here would take as long as the film given the density of events and twists, but overall the story gets progressively more bonkers and convoluted before careering off the road in admittedly entertaining fashion.

Vigalondo might be too imaginative for his own good at times, and I'd class Open Windows as a noble failure, but it's entertaining nonetheless.
High Tech Voyeurism can be deadly5/10
Beautiful film starlet Jill Goddard (Sasha Grey) is one of the hottest
young actresses in Hollywood, and is the object of Nick Chambers'
(Elijah Wood) affections. Nick runs a fan website devoted to Jill.
Lucky for Nick he has just won a contest to meet Jill in Austin, TX. As
Nick sits in his hotel room awaiting his dinner date with Jill he is
watching a webcast of a press conference with Jill to promote her new
movie. Nick is contacted by a man named Chord (Neil Maskell) who claims
to be Jill's manager as the press conference is happening live. Chord
informs Nick that Jill has decided not to meet him. Nick is
disappointed and angry, but Chord has another way Nick can meet Jill…
All Nick has to do is perform a series of tasks for Chord.

Open Windows 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 the mysterious Chord. Chord draws Nick into his game by allowing
Nick to get "special access" to Jill by tapping her smart phone and
manipulating a liaison for Jill and her boyfriend to take place at
hotel Nick is staying at so Nick can watch. After Nick is caught
peeping into their room by Jill's boyfriend Tony, Chord manipulates
Nick into attacking Tony which is all Chord needs to trap Nick into
doing whatever he wants. A pointless sub plot of the film involves a
group of French hackers who are online watching all of Nick's moves who
Nick tries to recruit into stopping Chord and his evil plot.

THE VERDICT: While the movie starts off well introducing the characters
and their motivations, the gimmick of seeing these characters evolve
through various browser windows on a screen gets old fast. Midway
through the second act of the film the introduction of the French
Hackers adds a hackey and pointless element to the film that distracts
from the central plot themes. While the film initially starts off
showing the dangers of the networked online lives that we all live
these days it ends up the same by the numbers territory that all of
these movies end up in. Open Windows might make for an interesting DVD
release, it certainly isn't worth a trip to the theater.