Open Windows

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Open Windows Movie Poster Image
Edgy cyber-thriller is innovative but has too many twists.
  • NR
  • 2014
  • 100 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Vague warning about Internet safety and trusting everything you see. Food for thought: A man holds a woman hostage and threatens to blow her up unless Internet surfers log off the site; less than 10% do it -- the rest stay on to watch.

Positive Role Models & Representations

None of the characters is very admirable. Many are victims. One is an artistic prankster who wreaks havoc to make ironic statements. A female character is treated as a sexual object.

Violence

A woman is grabbed and taken hostage; she's slapped off screen and tied to a chair. A man is tied up, gagged, and given electric shocks. A man is shot and seemingly killed. Taser gun. Explosions. Car chase and crash. A clip from a zombie movie, with bowling balls to the head.

Sex

A woman is forced to open her robe, exposing her breasts. A camera zooms in on her cleavage. She goes to a hotel room for sex; kissing noises are heard. Reference to a sex tape/porn movie. Reference to masturbating on a webcam. Innuendo. Sexy photos.

Language

"F--k" and "s--t" are used several times. Also "t-ts," "ass," "schlong," "damn," "son of a bitch," "bastard," "bitch," "bimbo."

Consumerism

The movie begins at a sci-fi convention panel where a new movie is being teased. No real-life products are mentioned.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A man is seen snorting cocaine from a distance. Drugs are mentioned.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Open Windows is a thriller that takes place almost entirely on a laptop -- through webcams, streaming videos, and video chats. It features the former porn star Sasha Grey, who's the object of a male character's obsession and is viewed as a sexual object. She exposes her breasts in one scene. Language is strong, with many uses of "f--k" and "s--t," as well as other words. Grey's character is kidnapped and tied up; other violence includes a man being bound and given electric shocks, shooting, a Taser gun, car chases, crashes, and explosions. A minor character can be seen snorting cocaine, and drugs are discussed. The story is set in the movie industry, where a new zombie film is being promoted. A clip from the fake "movie" is shown, with some violence.

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What's the story?

Nick Chambers (Elijah Wood) -- who runs a website dedicated to beautiful actress Jill Goddard (Sasha Grey) -- wins a contest to have dinner with her, which he eagerly awaits. Unfortunately, he gets a call from a man named Chord (Neil Maskell) telling him the dinner has been canceled. Chord offers him revenge and begins using some scary technology to tap into Jill's phone and to spy on her. With the help of some good-guy Internet spies who fortuitously appear, Nick discovers that Jill has, in fact, been kidnapped, and that he's been set up. So he hits the road, laptop in tow, to discover the identity of his online enemy and uncover the sinister plot.

Is it any good?

OPEN WINDOWS is interesting but ultimately a missed opportunity. Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo, who made the amazing Timecrimes (2007), attempts to create something equally amazing here. The movie begins on -- and stays mostly on -- a laptop, using webcams, streaming videos, screen captures, and web cams to show what's happening. There's even an app that taps into a cell phone and makes all its data available. It might seem that this approach would be too static to work, but it's quite exciting -- for a while.

What derails things isn't a fault of the technique but rather of the writing. Vigalondo's screenplay is based on too many twists. When they pile on top of each other, it's easy to get confused over just who was deceiving whom and what, ultimately, happened. In the final stretch, even the technology goes AWOL -- the resulting images are both off-putting and strangely cool.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Open Windows' treatment of sex. How does it view sex? How does it depict the main female character? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.

  • How does the movie make use of computers and media? Does it seem realistic? Does the use of the computer to tell stories seem limited or limitless?

  • What does this movie have to say about our relationship to technology? Does it make you want to use more technology? Less? Is it possible to have a meaningful human connection over the web?

  • How much violence is shown? Does it seem to be less intense given that it's happening on a computer screen?

  • In real-life, Sasha Grey is a retired porn star. How does this make you feel about her?

Movie details

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