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  • Widescreen 2.40:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Italian: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Polish: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Hungarian: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Commentary - English: Dolby Digital Stereo
    English, Italian, Hebrew, Greek, Polish, Hungarian, Dutch, Arabic, English - Hearing Impaired, Turkish, Icelandic, Croatian, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Hindi, Romanian, Bulgarian, Slovenian, Serbian, Commentary - English, Commentary - Italian, Commentary - Dutch
  • 4 Deleted scenes
  • 3 Teaser trailer
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Audio commentary
  • Animated menus
  • 2 Documentaries

Secret Window

Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 92 mins . M15+ . PAL


Secret Garden has been adapted by screenwriter/director David Koepp from a novella by thriller writer Stephen King.

It is a decent attempt at an old-fashioned suspense yarn of the sort Hitchcock would have revelled in. It boasts strong acting from its two male leads, Johnny Depp and John Turturro, but in the end falls just short of its targets.

Johnny Depp plays Mort Rainey, a thriller writer who is going through a messy divorce. His wife has kept the city home; he is holed up in a mountain cabin by a lake. And he's suffering writer's block. He is stuck, stuck, stuck.

And while he's in the midst of extricating himself from his old life and trying to re-create a writing career, a mysterious stranger, John Shooter (John Turturro), arrives on his doorstep. "You've stolen my story", he says, and claims that in some unknown way, Mort has managed to plagiarise the manuscript of his story Secret Window in one of his short story collections.

Rainey sends him away, but the stranger leaves his manuscript. And when Mort reads it, he discovers it is almost identical. So who wrote it? More importantly, who wrote it first? The stranger is threatening and obviously dangerous, if not downright insane. It's like being in a nightmare, except that Mort is wide awake.

This is an interesting yarn, except that it signals its big twist far too early, which does remove most of the suspense from the tale. I don't know if David Koepp meant to play his hand this early. I think not. But too much of his attention seems to be on special effects, especially on the admittedly very clever camera effects employed throughout the movie, not on safeguarding the plot at the core of the film.

There is a second plot twist which is harder to pick, but once you twig to the central premise, the rest doesn't seem to matter all that much. But in the end, this is an entertaining suspense-thriller, and it manages to go through its paces while employing a minimum of gore... most things are left to the imagination, which is, for this story, a great way to go.


The anamorphic transfer is very sharp and detailed, with good contrast throughout for both interior and exterior scenes. It would be hard to improve on this transfer, and it renders extremely well the special effects employed through the movie. These include such effects as a camera closing in on a mirror, and then moving right through the mirror into another room - these effects are employed so well that you note them almost subliminally; they don't obtrude unecessarily into the story.


The 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound is clear and particularly well defined, serving the dialogue extremely well but particularly standing out in delivery of the strong Philip Glass music score. This is gutsy, dramatic sound with a strong bass presence and a good all-enveloping ambience.


This disc is laden with special features, starting with a quite enjoyable audio commentary from David Koepp, who comes over as an extremely thoughtful and intelligent director.

The main featurette runs for 63 minutes, and is divided into three parts, 'From Book to Film', 'A Look Through It', which discusses the technical tricks used in the movie, and 'Secrets Revealed', which shows some of the scenes in the context of how they contributed to the movie's eventual major plot-twist.

This featurette is good value in the context of what we're usually offered to partner such movies. But it does get pretty tedious. There's only so much David Koepp can tell us about this movie. We certainly do appreciate just how clever the movie is, if you dissect it into its separate parts. Problem is, it just doesn't stack up to being quite as brilliant a film as this feature suggests.

There are four deleted scenes, with an optional commentary from David Koepp on why they weren't used. And there is a seven-minute featurette, Animatics, showing animated storyboards used during planning of the movie - strangely, these pieces of animation seem far less effective in giving the flavour of a movie than conventional static storyboard drawings.

We get a high-quality anamorphic trailer for the movie, plus teasers for Spider-Man 2, Hellboy and The Missing.


This is a minor addition to the suspense-thriller genre, enlivened by great acting from Johnny Depp and John Turturro, but which does become just a bit too predictable in its outcomes.

I'd rent this one. Once the basic premise is known, there's little reason to view it again - it's just not Hitchcockian quality.

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      And I quote...
    "An entertaining suspense-thriller which manages to go through its paces while employing a minimum of gore."
    - Anthony Clarke
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