I’m on a roll so lets go with another terrible film that I saw a little while ago. I’m actually shocked that this one is PG-13. The tone and everything felt like it was not, but I’ll give the film some slight props for that I suppose. Unfortunately, it all goes downhill from there. This film falls into some deep traps that thrillers/horrors are prone to stepping in and the film’s glum outlook doesn’t help matters either. It’s simply not a fun experience from start to finish.
Mort is an author who hasn’t been doing well lately. His papers won’t write themselves and he certainly doesn’t want to do any writing either. Things get worse when a guy by the name of John Shooter shows up and claims that Mort stole his paper. Mort knows that this isn’t true because he wrote it before John claims that he did, but he needs proof. Until Mort can get proof, John decides that he will destroy everyone close to Mort and will scare him into submission. Can Mort get this guy off his back or is it time to panic and retreat? Lets just say that neither one is an option.
All right, this film’s terrible. We can start with the animal violence. Mort has a dog, but naturally he is destroyed. The film was pretty obvious about the fact that the dog was going to die and this prevents you from ever getting into the film. What’s the point when you know that something so criminal and tragic is about to happen. I didn’t like it…I didn’t like it one bit. It was a distasteful move right from the get go.
There’s also another big problem with the film and it concerns the ending. It’s something that doesn’t happen very often, but certainly gets quite bad when it does show up. There will be spoilers in this paragraph as well as the next one so skip these if you don’t want to know about it. You have been warned so lets go back to spoilers in 3….2……1….Go. It turns out that Mort is insane. John Shooter is a figment of his imagination. What this means is that Mort is the one who destroyed his dog. Mort is also the one who burned his house down and murdered a few other people. The ending of the film also sees Mort murder his wife and her new rebound guy. It then ends with him burying them and living a peaceful life in his house. The police know that it was him, but there is nothing that they can do about it without any proof. I call plot hax on that and it is a very depressing way to end.
There are few things worse than having the villain win in the end. Mort’s a mass murderer and the film ends with the knowledge that no charges can be put on him. Moreover, he still comes to town to intimidate people and everyone knows that he could easily do the same thing again. It’s a very depressing end to an already terrible film. Imagine if Sucker Punch had end….bad example. Imagine if Air had en…..another bad example. Lets go to Poltergeist 3. If the film had ended with Maryanne being stuck in astral world and everyone else just getting murdered and replaced with ghosts, it would have been pretty lousy. You question what the point of the whole film was. It’s possible to handle the situation well and still have the villains win in the end. For example, the Avengers film could have had Thanos show up and destroy the planet and I don’t think it would have affected the score negatively. If anything, it would have been a pretty fun ending. It’s all about execution, but you simply can’t have a psychotic mass murderer end the film off on a high note while all of the other characters get massacred. It just doesn’t work.
None of the characters are particularly likable here. Mort’s annoying and terrible. There’s no real way to like Amy since she is cheating on Mort the whole time. She wants a divorce, but she hasn’t actually gotten it yet so that destroys her as a character. Ted’s no better since he’s the rebound guy for Amy. To make sure that you don’t forget this, the film plays the flashback about 10 times or more where Mort finds this out the hard way. The only character who can be seen as semi good is the private investigator, but he’s not very good. He’s very relaxed about the whole thing and lets his guard down the whole time. He comes across as a guy who is all talk and no action. Needless to say, John Shooter is a pretty terrible villain as well.
The film feels very old despite being a 2000 and later film. Maybe it’s a technique that it used on purpose to achieve a retro affect. Whatever the case, the film looked and felt like a 1990’s R rated Indie horror film. While I can try to respect the fact that the film got this sinister tone, it doesn’t really help the film all that much at all. It doesn’t save it from the perfect 0 and doesn’t win it back any points. How could it? The plot twist at the end just ends up hurting your own trust in the film and it was already going to be a 2 or a 3 max. Add in the actual ending and then the 0 is an absolute certainty.
There isn’t a whole lot more to say about the film. If we ignore the plot twist, then there would have been a lot of plot hax and stretches of disbelief. With the twist, then everything adds up pretty well. I don’t like not being able to trust what I’m seeing though, it feels like a big cop out. I suppose that it’s the only way the film could go with this plot though. The writing wouldn’t have been able to handle it otherwise.
Overall, Secret Garden is a terrible film. It has one of the worst endings in film history, (And that’s saying something) a crippling plot twist, unlikable characters, and animal violence. I don’t think any film could survive such an onslaught of negatives. There is simply too much to overcome and the only mildly interesting scene in the whole film was a very brief fight, which doesn’t even matter thanks to the twist. It’s a shame…a true shame. If you want a film with some semblance of quality, then check out I Know What You Did Last Summer. If you want a film with actual quality, then go watch Space Jam. Trust me, there is a big difference between actually being a good film and having a very short glimpse of potential. Space Jam is the former and the Summer film is the latter. Secret Window can’t even make it to either category.