OPEN WINDOWS is a high-concept thriller that works better as an exercise in form and style than as a movie. Directed by Nacho Vigalondo, and starring Elijah Wood and Sasha Grey, the story is about a guy named Nick Chambers (Wood) who wins a date with actress Jill Goddard (Grey) through an online contest. After finding out the date has been cancelled, a mysterious stranger named Chord (who claims to be affiliated with Jill) allows Nick to watch her secretly from his laptop, and things start to get crazy from there.
When I first started watching this, I was reminded of a couple of films that Elijah Wood did before this one: MANIAC and GRAND PIANO. I thought of MANIAC because every shot in this movie is from the first person point of view, and of GRAND PIANO because his character is constantly being given instructions by a mostly unseen third party. What I thought this film did effectively was integrate technology in an interesting way, and the way the story was presented was at least creative. It takes a while to get used to, but once you accept the concept then it's easier to get into the film. It's actually not too bad of a film either, for the first two-thirds of it. You have this rather timid individual who is given the opportunity to spy on someone he admires through the miracle of modern technology, and when things start to go wrong the film is able to maintain a good level of tension. Nothing in this film is predictable, and that is probably the highest praise I can give it. Still, despite the modern trappings it is rather silly and convoluted. I won't give away any twists, but it takes a turn about two-thirds of the way through that kind of ruined the experience for me.
As far as the acting is concerned, nobody really gave a bad performance, but nobody was spectacular either, including Elijah Wood who seemed to be doing another variation on the type of character he's played in his last couple of films. Sasha Grey wasn't too bad, but I wasn't expecting too much from somebody who came out of porn. Overall, I thought that the story, as implausible as it was, started out pretty good but then derails in the final act. There were some good observations on obsession with celebrities and the terrifying possibilities of modern technology, but it is mostly lost in a standard thriller. It's being billed as a 21st century REAR WINDOW, but most people would probably be better off watching that instead.