is a 2004 Psychological Thriller
, starring Johnny Depp
and John Turturro. It was written and directed by David Koepp, based on the novella Secret Window, Secret Garden
by Stephen King
Mystery writer Mort Rainey is severely depressed and in the middle of a divorce. He’s been holed up in his cabin for weeks when one morning John Shooter from Mississippi arrives and accuses Mort of plagiarizing his short story "Sowing Season". Shooter demands retribution. Mort insists he wrote his story first, but makes futile attempts to prove it. He finally tells Shooter he’ll send for a copy of the Ellery Queen
magazine issue in which Mort's story was published, and this will prove his was written first. Shooter agrees this will settle the matter, but while Shooter waits for the magazine to arrive, people begin turning up dead.
This film provides examples of:
- Adorkable: Mort, as demonstrated (only) when the audience gets a brief glimpse of what Mort was like before the divorce.
- The Bad Guy Wins
- Black Dude Dies First: Not a slasher movie, but still fits the trope.
- Deadpan Snarker: Mort.
Well, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't on the verge of doing Snoopy
- Death by Adaptation: Amy and Ted. In the novella, Mort died instead.
- Dream Sequence
- Go Mad from the Revelation: Mort when he finds out that Shooter isn't a real person, and was he split personality.
- Kick the Dog: Poor Chico. In the novel, poor Bump.
- Often hits as Fridge Horror for first time watchers because they tend to forget the dog/cat in the rest of the chaos and then remember at the end that if Mort and Shooter are the same person, then Mort killed his own dog/cat.
- Lampshade Hanging: Watch the movie again after the Tomato in the Mirror ending, and you'll see it's all over the place.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Mort's closing monologue to the police sheriff.
- Line-of-Sight Name: Mort believes that Ted is using this trope, noting that the town Ted comes from has the word "Shooter" in it. It is revealed that Mort himself was making up parts of Shooter's personality from things in his daily life.
- Meaningful Name: Shooter's Shoot Her.
- Additionally, "mort" is French for "death", although this may have been unintentional as his full name is "Morton".
- Metafiction: Not a particularly extreme example: it's a film (originally novella) about someone writing a short story.
- More meta: Mort's split personality may be yet another reference to Stephen King's pen name "alter ego" Richard Bachman.
- Most Writers Are Writers: Mort is a successful author suffering from writer's block. As with many King works he is a loose stand-in for King himself.
- Nice Hat: Shooter wears one.
- Not Proven: The sheriff and by extension the whole town. Everyone just knows Mort killed at least two people but without solid evidence, there's nothing to be done.
- Once More with Clarity: Shooter and Mort continually quote the closing lines of Shooter's original version of the story, the meaning of which only becomes apparent at the end. Additionally, Mort continually has flashbacks to when he discovered his wife was cheating on him; only the last of these revealed he threatened her and her boyfriend with a gun.
- One Dialogue, Two Conversations: Mort and Ted's at the gas station.
- Psycho Ex-Husband: Mort himself at the end.
- Reality Subtext: Being an adaptation of a Stephen King novella, obligatory references to alcoholism and drug abuse are present. Additionally, King himself faced several (apparently groundless) accusations of plagiarism prior to writing the novel, including some from some rather enthusiastic fans who physically threatened him.
- Red Herring: Ted, Amy's new lover..
- Revised Ending: The film's ending is completely different to that of the novella. In-universe, Shooter's main objection to Rainey's supposedly having plagiarized his story is that he changed the ending, and wants him to change it back to his original ending. Of course, the latter is related to the former.
- Room Full of Crazy
- Shout-Out: A possible one to Talking Heads - at one Mort drives to his wife's house and watches her and her new boyfriend leaving and getting into his car, thinking to himself "This is not my beautiful house. This is not my beautiful wife."
- Spared by the Adaptation: Mort in the film.
- Split Personality: Mort. The story ends in Split Personality Takeover and The Killer In Me.
- Through the Eyes of Madness
- Tomato in the Mirror: Mort is Shooter.
- Too Dumb to Live: Amy walking into Mort's completely trashed house is pretty careless to start with, but she tops it of by not warning her lover Ted that a crazed killer is waiting around the corner for him. Saying just one word could have saved them both.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Mountain Dew and Doritos for Mort. This has progressed to corn by the end. Yes, this warrants a spoiler.
- Unreliable Narrator: Mort himself.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Mort Rainey becomes one when it turns out that John Shooter's crimes is of his own doing. Although Mort finally ends up killing his ex-wife and her lover, and his killings stopped.
- Yandere: Mort himself towards Amy at the end.