TAD 2014: Open Windows
As her number one fan, Nick Chambers (Elijah Wood) has won a contest to meet his favourite actress Jill Goddard (Sasha Grey). He has been put up in a hotel room and is scheduled to meet her for dinner. A man introducing himself as Chord, Goddard’s manager, contacts Nick online through his computer and tells him that Jill is refusing to meet with him and the plans have been cancelled. Nick, confused and upset, doesn’t understand what’s going on. Chord begins giving instructions to Nick that gives him access to Jill’s phone and security cameras which allows him to watch her every movement. This is Nick’s compensation for the contest being cancelled. Being obsessed with Jill, Nick reluctantly follows the plans. However, as this man continues to speak with Nick, it soon becomes apparent that something more nefarious is happening. Nick is being drawn into a complex plan to kidnap Jill. He is being blackmailed and entrapped into continuing doing what Chord is telling him. With the help of a team of outside hackers, Nick must race to find Jill before she is taken and killed.
Any time a film is made about hacking there is inevitably a degree of inaccuracy to the computer technology and the techniques used by the characters in the film. It’s adapted and fictionalized to better serve the purpose of the plot and easily becomes outdated due to the rapid pace of progress. The film Open Windows is no exception to this and is often exaggerated but it has been crafted in such a way that what we see still feels plausible and it’s a tense, exciting ride.
This film has a unique take on the hacking genre. The action is captured entirely through web cams, SLR Cameras, cell phones, and security cameras and is viewed primarily through the open windows on Nick’s laptop screen, panning and shifting from one to the next. This constraint provides a unique vantage point and execution of the story. While the film does at times feel farfetched, director Nacho Vigalondo has crafted a surprisingly fun and tense thrill ride if the viewer allows themselves to accept the premise and strap in. The technology being used feels close enough to being real that the audience can easily look past any cinematic fabrications and enjoy the journey.
Nearing the conclusion of the third act, when the mysteries of the film are being unravelled, the story begins to get clumsy and a bit confusing. The director (also the writer here), devises a resolution that is overly complicated, especially given the streamlined presentation up until that point. It kind of makes the viewer say “Wait, what?” and makes them have to really think about what just happened before they can understand the ending. This is a significant flaw in an otherwise engaging film and the writing could have used some polish to make for a better experience. It feels too preposterous in an otherwise convincing film.