Secret Window 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.Beware of spoilers! This movie has some major plot twists.
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: In stark contrast to the novel, the movie ends with the evil personality not only taking over the protagonist near the end, but succesfully murdering his ex-wife and her new husband. He buries them in his backyard and grows a corn field over it. The police can't prove anything without any bodies and Mort consequently remains a free man. The movie chillingly ends the way Mort's own story does, with the murderous main character savouring some cooked corn cobs fertilized by his victims' corpses.
Bait the Dog: Done deliberately with the film version - according to the director, by the time our protagonist finally snaps completely and kills his ex-wife and her boyfriend, we were meant to be too involved with him to stop cheering him on.
Convicted by Public Opinion: When Mort Rainey is eventually revealed to be the killer, Sheriff Dave Newsome interrupts Mort's nonchalant casual conversation and bluntly says in a matter of fact tone something to the effect of "Both you and I know what you did. We can't find the bodies, But we'll find the bodies and we'll link you to them. And eventually put you away.. And of course since he's a split personality murderer, Mort was completely confused by the sheriff's out of nowhere comment. Also the locals are completely freaked out by him. So much so the sheriff wanted him to stop coming into town at certain parts of the day. The implications are strong granted, But the authorities still never found the bodies.
It's Been Done: The plot revolves around a man threatening Mort for stealing his story, only to find out that Mort published his story a full two years before he claimed to have written it. Of course, it all ends up being a moot point when it's revealed the whole thing is Mort arguing with himself.
Karma Houdini: After Mort murders his ex-wife and her new husband, he succesfully disposes of the bodies. He continues to live in the town while the locals are terrified of him and gets away with his crimes because the police can't prove anything without solid evidence, but the sherrif makes it pretty clear that he damn well knows what Mort did.
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.
The Killer In Me: John Shooter does not exist; he is a schizophrenic hallucination undergone by Mort Rainey to commit acts (murder, arson) Mort could never consciously bring himself to do.
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.
Mad Artist: the main character turns out to be a mad artist (of the 'mystery writer who acts out his own story' type) with Split Personality.
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.
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.
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.
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."
Standard Female Grab Area: The antagonist drags the conscious and struggling female lead along the ground, face-down, by one wrist. No, the villain is not particularly strong; she was just Too Dumb to Live.
The Stinger: Johnny Depp singing in a quite disturbing little voice "mama's little baby loves shortbread, shortbread..."
Stop Trick: Used in the beginning to make it appear that Johnny Depp's character has driven through a parking lot with the camera on the hood and then backed away from said camera in the same shot.
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: The narrator is stalked by a psychopath who accuses him of plagiarizing his book, and who attempts to frame him for several heinous crimes. In the climax, it is revealed that [[spoiler:the narrator has been driven to madness over his guilt for plagiarizing a classmate in college, and is unconsciously committing the acts for which he thinks he's being framed. The stalker does not exist outside his own mind (although the novella hedges a bit on this point).
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.