Nacho Vigalondo’s thriller Open Windows is a unique little film that comes off like Rear Window for the digital age as we see a man, Nick, get trapped in a wicked game of cat and mouse when a psychopath named Chord attempts to carry out a plan to hunt down a movie star, all within the screen of a laptop.
With horror being saturated in the likes of found-footage and faux documentaries, it’s nice to see a filmmaker like Vigalondo aiming to do something a little bit different. And although the film’s gimmick starts to feel like one towards the latter half, it’s an extremely effective setup that hits hard early on. The first half of the film has a very Hitchcock-like pulse as we watch Nick—who’s waiting to meet his favorite actress, Jill, played by Sarah Grey—get a mysterious call from a man who claims to be Jill’s manager. Enticing Nick with unlimited access to Jill’s phone, Nick is quickly forced into a deadly game.
The amazing thing about Open Windows is the fact that Vigalondo managed to tell a coherent story, despite there being so many working parts. With a narrative that is being told entirely through the small landscape of a laptop, this one could have easily fallen apart. Instead, Vigalondo has created a surprising thriller that pushes the boundaries of storytelling.
The main issue with the film, however, is that it gets too ambitious towards the end as its story and suspense become too demanding. What works early on, within the small setting of a hotel room, becomes cluttered and messy as the narrative moves forward. If the film had switched to a traditional cinematic format the second Nick left the hotel room, it would have given it a little more room to breathe, especially during its final moments. But because Vigalondo sticks to his guns through its entirety, the format hinders what was supposed to be an intense, gut-punch of a finale because we’re only given one way of looking at the film—through a laptop. And because of that, Vigalondo was handcuffed by his own movie.
Other than that, though, Open Windows delivers an outside-of-the-box thriller that is unusually entertaining considering the fact that you’re watching a story unfold under the dim light of a computer screen. And a lot of the film’s success comes from the powerful and engaging performance from its star, Elijah Wood, who continues to dominate the genre with one solid project after another. While it’s setup and overall presentation might be off-putting to some, it’s an experiment that works more than it doesn’t.