SXSW Film Review: Open Windows

Posted in Film, Reviews, SXSW
By Sam Bathe on 14 Mar 2014

Coming into SXSW, Open Windows was one of our more anticipated films on the schedule. From Time Crimes director Nacho Vigalondo and starring Sasha Grey, who continues her transition into cinema from adult film, and Elijah Wood, who is due a good performance, Open Windows showed so much promise I guess it was inevitable it would be a big letdown.

The concept is clever, following actress Jill Goddard (Grey) as she holds a Q&A after a screening of her latest movie (actually shot at Fantastic Fest in Austin last year). Around this time we pick up with fanatic Nick Chambers (Wood). Coming into town to interview Jill for his fansite, he arrives at his hotel only to be told she has unfortunately had to cancel, but the voice on the other end of the line offers him another line of access into her life.

Hacking into Jill’s cellphone and the hotel security system, the film sets in motion a spiral that leaves Nick forced to torment Jill, as she’s taken hostage by the cloaked figure on the other end of the line.

Despite a lot of promise in the first 10 minutes, Open Windows quickly descends into a madness. The idea is smart but the execution feels like a student film. Elijah Wood really struggles, acting against a webcam for half the film and against a laptop in his carfor the rest. Though Sasha Grey does much better, it was disappointing to see her in another role where she has to show some flesh. Grey clearly has a lot of talent and will make a successful career for herself in the future, but she needs to pick and choose her next couple of roles very carefully.

The plot turns ridiculous fairly early on, which would have been OK if Open Windows was at least exciting and fun. However, the narrative gets more tedious by the second and struggles to decide which way to go; the moments of tension and peril leave you laughing at how unbelievable it all is rather than hiding behind your hands.

Billed as a “21st century Rear Window“, Open Windows doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in the same br eath as the Hitchcock classic. With the film feeling so remarkably slapdash, it is a big step down Vigalondo’s previous work, and a hugely disappointing English language debut.


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