Secret Window


Okay, Heidi, you win


Posted 18 Jun 2017    Edited 18 Jun 2017


When I write a blog entry, it's usually because I've been thinking about something for a long time and I have these weird feelings I need to express for some reason. Like, sometimes I'll watch a movie over and over and come up with theories about it, and I want to share that with people.

Or, sometimes I'm exposed to an idea that blows my mind, and I use a blog entry as an excuse to spend time researching it and listening to TED talks about it, and kind of forming my own opinion about it.

Sometimes, I just want to tell a story.

I find myself, though, in uncharted territory with this blog entry you are reading right now.

I'm writing it at the request of someone in my life. This person is not a relative of mine. I guess she and I are friends... but we don't spend time together socially anymore, and our communication is exclusively limited to Facebook comments [with mentions].

This person is Heidi Powell.

Heidi married my fourth-favorite roommate [from my second semester of college]. I say "favorite" because I don't know how to rank roommates, really. In all honesty, I probably like Heidi's husband Randy more than most other roommates I ever had in college, I just haven't kept in touch with him as well as other roommates.

So, really, Heidi is the wife of my fourth-best-kept-in-touch-with roommate from my second semester of college [probably seventh-best-kept-in-touch-with, overall].

Anyway, I met Heidi a day after I met Randy. He proposed marriage to her a couple weeks after I met both of them. As the semester went on, Randy and I became pretty good friends. Randy is a big, tall guy from Oregon. He graduated with his Bachelor's degree in History. He's a politically kinda liberal person and thinks carefully about things.

He's a really nice dude.

Heidi is also a really nice girl-version of a dude: a girl.

She would laugh a lot when she was with Randy. Generally, in the period I spent the most time with them both, they exhibited the trappings of young love that you would expect from an engaged couple.

Randy ate a lot of what he called "homemade nachos" and what I called "disgusting garbage" where he put tortilla chips in the microwave with shredded cheddar on top, and nothing else.

That's not really an essential detail to this narrative, but I'm realizing that I know quite little about Heidi and Randy, so I might as well just unload everything.

At the end of that semester, if you asked me to make a list of everything I knew about Heidi, it would be:
  1. She sings opera.
  2. She is friends with a girl named Samantha.
End of list.

I really never got to know Heidi's story or any other detail of her life. Maybe I just wasn't paying attention when she told me about stuff, or when I overheard things about her in other people's conversations, but probably I never bothered to find out.

After that semester, Heidi and Randy got married; but they were not quite done with school. So, they moved into some "married" housing, and finished their degrees. I stayed at the same apartment complex with my other buddies/roommates who were there from the beginning.

One of these guys was Randy's little brother Jodie. Jodie is one of the greatest friends I've had in this life. We stayed roommates for one more semester, and we've stayed friends ever since. Once Randy and Heidi got married and moved apartments, Jodie was my connection to Randy and Heidi.

Every once in a while, they would come over to our apartment and watch a movie. Once, Heidi sang in an opera performance with the school and Jodie and I went to go see her. Another time, Randy broke their Dodge Neon, and I went with Jodie to tow it back to their apartment.

But after that second semester, I never saw Randy or Heidi again.

I called Randy on the phone once to settle an argument with Jodie. Another time, I teased him on Facebook about being gay or a Democrat or something. And that was pretty much it.

Heidi and I, on the other hand, have communicated more [like I said, through Facebook comments]. An analysis of my Facebook profile from WolframAlpha shows that Heidi has commented on my posts more than any other person.



She's generally supportive of my social media activity, especially my blogging. She usually adds nice comments to my articles with good feedback that show she really has read it and stuff.

But, the hallmark of her comments are in encouraging me to write a blog entry about the movie Secret Window.



The snippet above is the just the last of a long list of comments saying, "When are you going to write a blog post about Secret Window?" Seriously, this has been going on for a couple years now.

I guess it all stems from one night [I'm pretty sure it was Halloween 2013] where Randy, Heidi, Jodie, Susie [my at-the-time almost girlfriend/present-day wife], and I watched said film.

It's a really good movie: probably one of my favorite thrillers. It only scored a 46% on Rotten Tomatoes, so maybe I'm wrong about it.

For some reason, it's a film that captured the heart and imagination of Heidi Spjute Powell. To be honest, I'm not sure what this blog post will mean to Heidi. I don't know if our friendship will survive when the Heidi-says-nice-things-about-Brennan's-blogs-but-ultimately-just-wants-the-goods:-in-other-words-a-blog-about-the-movie-Secret-Window model breaks down. Will Heidi continue to comment on my blogs with statements like, "Well, this was good, Brennan, but it will never be as good as that Secret Window one you wrote"? Will she be freaked out by how meta I got with the personal backstory about her and Randy, and not want to talk to me again? Will this post fail to live up to her expectations? Will she continue to ask for more entries about the film Secret Window, until I have explored every facet of it, its history and post-production details, along with deleted scenes and director's commentary?

We'll see.

Secret Window

It's a 2004 film based on a novella by Stephen King called Secret Window, Secret Garden. I sorta skimmed through parts of the King novella, and it's a little different. The ending is completely different.

The film is better, in my opinion. Also, there will be spoilers; and this movie really relies on the twists. So stop now if you don't want a great movie spoiled for you.

The film starts with the camera moving through a home, and focusing on a mirror. The camera moves into the mirror image. It's like we've moved into the mirror world.

Johnny Depp plays our main character: Mort Rainey. He's a writer who lives alone in a cabin with his dog Chico. He's in the process of getting a divorce from his wife Amy [played by Maria Bello], who cheated on him with a douche Ted [Timothy Hutton]. Mort caught them together in a motel and brought a gun and pointed it at them, but never shot anyone.

A guy from Mississippi named John Shooter [John Turturro] shows up at his cabin and claims that Mort stole one of his stories and published it. Shooter provides Mort with a transcript of a story that Shooter wrote called "Sowing Season."



Mort reads the story and realizes two things: (1) the story is identical to one he wrote years previous [about a man who plots to kill his wife], but the ending is totally different, and (2) Mort's publishing date is two years earlier than the date printed on Shooter's transcript.

Mort meets up with Shooter later, explaining that he wrote the story first and Shooter needs to step off. They have a little bit of a physical altercation where Shooter shoves Mort against a car and threatens violence against his ex-wife. A guy from the town drives past in truck and sees the two talking.



A day or two later, Shooter kills Mort's dog. Mort reports this to the local sheriff, who doesn't seem super motivated to look into anything or protect Mort. A week or so later, Shooter goes to the Amy's house and burns it to the ground.

Mort hires a private investigator to come to the cabin and figure out how to deal with Shooter. The PI sets up a meeting with that guy who saw Mort and Shooter at the car to groom him as a witness against Shooter.

Mort goes to meet the PI and the guy from town at a diner the next morning, but neither of them show up. Shooter calls Mort and tells him to come to the place where they got in the fight previously. When he gets down there, he finds the guy from town and his PI in a truck, murdered.

Shooter shows up and explains that the two in the car were "interfering with Shooter's and Mort's business" and he "couldn't have that." Also, Shooter murdered them using tools from Mort's shed and says that if Mort doesn't do something to hide the evidence, the murders will be linked to him. So Mort pulls his screwdriver out of a guy's head and his hatchet out of the other guy's chest and does this:



At this point, Shooter no longer seems to care that Mort "stole his story." Now, Shooter wants Mort to "fix the ending," essentially demanding that Mort rewrite and republish the story using Shooter's ending, the final sentence of which says:

"I know I can do it," Todd Downey said, helping himself to another ear of corn from the steaming bowl, "I'm sure that, in time, her death will be a mystery - even to me."

Mort arrives home at the cabin, and is reeling from all the things he's experienced. He kind of takes a breath, and then the world unravels. A giant crack violently cuts his cabin in half. His image in the mirror [the same mirror the movie crawled into at the beginning] is facing away from him.

He starts a dialogue with himself that we hear as a voice over, and all the sudden, a copy of him appears and he gets into an argument with himself.





During the conversation with himself, one of the Johnny Depp copies starts barking like a dog. This is arguably Heidi's favorite part of the movie. She flipped when it happened, and continued to talk about that part for several months.

Anyway, Shooter appears, and Mort realizes that he is Shooter. We see a flashback to Mort and Amy at a farmer's market with Mort trying on the round-brimmed hat and taking on a Mississippi accent, making Amy laugh.



That's when the John Shooter persona was born.

Anyway, the camera perspective moves back out of the mirror [opposite of what happened at the beginning of the film] and Amy comes over to the house because she's worried about Mort. Ted follows Amy because he's worried about her. Mort [in character as Shooter] paralyzes Amy by knocking her head on a rock, kills Ted with a shovel, and finishes Amy off with said shovel.

After, we see Mort in town at the grocery store. He's got braces on [yeah, like, on his teeth - like orthodontics], and he's buying butter, salt, and napkins. Everyone in town is freaked out by him, avoiding him.

Later, the town sheriff comes to the cabin. There are two pots of corn boiling on the stove and there are corn husks all over the house. The sheriff goes upstairs and finds Mort writing on his laptop. The sheriff says, "Hey, we know it was you, even though there is no evidence you killed all those people. Once we find their bodies, you're goin' down. In the meantime, don't come into town; you're making people uncomfortable."

Mort's like, "Okay, whatever."

And as the sheriff is leaving, Mort talks about how the ending of the story is the most important part, and how the ending of the one he is writing is perfect.

The camera pans out of a tiny window of the cabin, and we hear Johnny Depp in voiceover say:

"I know I can do it," Todd Downey said, helping himself to another ear of corn from the steaming bowl, "I'm sure that, in time, every bit of her will be gone, and her death will be a mystery - even to me."

The camera moves down to a patch of corn growing outside the cabin, and clear down under the ground.

Smashcut to: a close-up of Mort's mouth taking a big 'ol chomp out of a corn cob.

Smashcut to: black.

The end.

Then, if you wait around til the end of the credits, you get a little Secret Window Easter egg: Johnny Depp sings a couple lines from the old Southern song "Shortnin' Bread."



Considerations

I am really entertained by this movie. John Turturro and Johnny Depp are [to quote a friend] amazeballs in it. And the part where reality shatters [or I guess, the part where Mort realizes what's happening and is forced to accept reality] is so, so good. I'm not a big fan of the Pirates movies, and some of Depp's Tim Burton stuff is too weird for me. But, he really shows that he's got chops in these scenes.

Also, the part in the movie where Mort says that "the ending is the most important part" and "this one is perfect" is an ironic backhand to Stephen King. Because, in King's version, Mort doesn't kill Amy and Ted. Instead, he gets shot by a farmer and dies. But, the John Shooter guy [whilst being a creation of Mort's imagination], is somehow brought into physical existence because Mort was just that good of a writer, I guess.

The farmer guy who shoots Mort testifies to seeing Shooter as a semi-transparent ghost standing next to Mort. And, at the very end of the story, weeks after Mort's death, Shooter writes a letter to Ted and Amy, and freaks them the fuff out.

So, yeah, movie's better.

Well

Heidi, I can't think of anything more to write about this movie. To the wife of my seventh-best-kept-in-touch-with roommate from college, this is an incredible gesture. I mean, I really think that [unlike Stephen King himself] I totally nailed it.

I know that in time, this blog post will be a mystery, even to me.

Smashcut to: me chomping a corn cob.

Smashcut to: black.

The end.

Written and Directed by Brennan Harris.

Based on the Facebook comments of Heidi Powell.

Special thanks to
Michael Dayley
Zach Jensen
Mark Johnson
Randy Powell
Jodie Powell
Susie Ries [now Harris, thanks for putting up with me dedicating a blog entry to a girl who is not you. It was for the greater good.]