Combustible Celluloid
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With: Elijah Wood, Sasha Grey, Neil Maskell
Written by: Nacho Vigalondo
Directed by: Nacho Vigalondo
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 100
Date: 11/07/2014

Open Windows (2014)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Deadly Desktop

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

A missed opportunity, but interesting. Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo, who made the amazing Timecrimes (2007), attempts to make something equally amazing with Open Windows. The movie begins on, and stays mostly on, a laptop, utilizing webcams, streaming videos, screen captures, and web cams. 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.

Nick Chambers (Elijah Wood) runs a website dedicated to the beautiful actress Jill Goddard (Sasha Grey), and now he has won a contest and eagerly awaits a dinner with her. Unfortunately, he receives 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 has been set up. So he hits the road, laptop in tow, to discover the identity of his online enemy, and uncover his sinister plot.

What happens is not a fault of the technique, but rather of the writing. Vigalondo's screenplay is based on twists, and, hence, what seems like a coincidence is really a twist. And then, when twist piles on top of twist, it's easy to get confused over just who was deceiving who and what, ultimately, happened. In the final stretch, the even technology goes off the rails, and the resulting images are both off-putting and strangely cool.

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