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Secret Window (2004)

PG-13  |   |  Mystery, Thriller  |  12 March 2004 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 139,362 users   Metascore: 46/100
Reviews: 528 user | 192 critic | 34 from Metacritic.com

A writer is accused for plagiarism by a strange man, who then starts haunting him for "justice."



(novel), (screenplay)
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3 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ken Karsch
Sheriff Dave Newsome
Joan Heney ...
Mrs. Garvey
John Dunn-Hill ...
Tom Greenleaf (as John Dunn Hill)
Fire Chief Wickersham
Matt Holland ...
Detective Bradley
Gillian Ferrabee ...
Fran Evans
Bronwen Mantel ...
Greta Bowie
Juliet Stoker
Kyle Allatt ...
Motel Manager


Mort Rainey is a successful writer going through a rather unfriendly divorce from his wife of ten years, Amy. Alone and bitter in his cabin, he continues to work on his writing when a stranger named John Shooter shows up on his doorstep, claiming Rainey stole his story. Mort says he can prove the story belongs to him and not Shooter, but while Mort digs around for the magazine which published the story in question years ago, things begin to happen around Shooter. Mort's dog dies, people begin to die, and his divorce proceedings with Amy continue to get uglier. It seems that Shooter has Mort over a barrel, but perhaps Mort has his own ideas on how to resolve all the problems that plague him lately. Written by Anthony Pereyra {hypersonic91@yahoo.com}

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

writer | stranger | divorce | cabin | time | See All (249) »


The most important part of a story is the ending. See more »


Mystery | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for violence/terror, sexual content and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

12 March 2004 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Secret Window, Secret Garden  »

Box Office


$40,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$18,237,568 (USA) (12 March 2004)


$2,833,800 (Japan) (12 November 2004)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The movie's premiere date was moved up a month to ride the coat-tails of Johnny Depp's success in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) which earned him a SAG award and an Oscar nomination. See more »


When Mort finds Tom in the station wagon he faints. First we see him pitch forwards. Then the camera (from his perspective) pans to the left but we see him land on the ground to his right. See more »


[first lines]
Mort: [voiceover] Turn around. Turn around. Turn the car around and get the hell out of here. Right now. Don't go back. Do not go back there.
See more »

Crazy Credits

At the end of the credits Johnny Depp can be briefly heard singing "Shortnin' Bread". See more »


References Chico and the Man (1974) See more »


Get Down
Written by Ali Dee, Vincent Alfieri and Zach Danziger
Performed by Cham Pain
Courtesy of Deetown Productions
Under license from Spirit Music Group
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

A Writer With Problems
31 January 2009 | by (Dallas, Texas) – See all my reviews

Johnny Depp plays Mort Rainey, a writer with wife problems. Mort secludes himself in a wilderness cabin to write. Soon, he gets a visit from a strange Southern mountain man named John Shooter (John Turturro). Throughout most of the plot, Mort tries to deal with this threatening man who won't go away, and confronts his wife and her new lover.

"Secret Window" is a moody, Hitchcockian thriller with a major story twist. Pacing is slow. There's lots of waiting for something to happen, which enhances a sense of foreboding. And Depp's performance is terrific.

With hair that looks like a mop, and a delightfully slovenly appearance, Mort mopes around the cabin, talks to his nearly blind dog, and tries to placate Mr. Shooter. He also spends a lot of time on the phone, mostly with Shooter and with his disconsolate wife.

Casting and acting are fine. Production design is great; love that cabin where Mort lives. Camera work, lighting, special effects, CGI, and editing are all quite good.

Although I liked the film's twist, some viewers will be disappointed with it, perhaps because the underlying idea is not terribly original. The risk for the director is that the entire story hinges on this one twist. If a viewer discovers the twist ahead of time, or finds it unsatisfying for any reason, the viewer likely will render a negative verdict on the entire film.

My only serious complaint with the film is that, at times, the plot discards logic so as to maximize gratuitous violence, the result no doubt of the film's source material, a horror story by Stephen King.

Overall, "Secret Window" is a generally fine thriller, enhanced especially by the splendid performance of Johnny Depp. Just be aware that one's reaction to this film likely will depend on one's perception of the story's major plot twist.

29 of 34 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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