There seems to be a neat little trend catching on in the horror scene over the last year or so. It may even be considered a new sub-genre all together. I’ve seen some refer to it as ‘tech horror,’ but I like to refer to it as cyber horror, myself. Whatever you call it, films like The Den or segments from the V/H/S/ franchise are utilizing the growing trends of social media and digital technology to make for some pretty rad horror flicks. Another great film to add to this list of tech thrillers is Nacho Vigalondo’s Open Windows.
Nick Chambers (Elijah Wood, Maniac, Grand Piano) is the webmaster for the biggest fan site of actress Jill Goddard (Sasha Grey, Would You Rather). Nick is invited to a dinner with the actress, but after receiving a video call from a man named Chord (Neil Maskell), who he believes to be Jill’s campaign manager, his dreams of meeting the star are quickly dissolved. Not only that, but he soon realizes that Chord has plans much more sinister than just web chatting. Nick is now at the mercy of Chord and must do as he says in order to protect not only himself, but also Jill.
The idea of technology playing a role in a horror film is nothing new, but the ways in which it is utilized is something totally different. With the rapid increase in popularity of things like Skype and Facetime, live streaming and data recording, the world is virtually connected with the mere click of a button. The idea of using these types of technology to film and produce an entire movie is pretty genius, if you ask me. What Open Windows gives us is 100 minutes of real-time action played out in front of our eyes. We see everything, from the moment we meet Nick Chambers up until the very end of the film, through some sort of personal camera lens. Vigalondo and his crew created an entire new way of telling a story all with the use of webcams, security camera footage, cell phone cameras, and tiny ball-shaped recording devices dubbed “ping-pong cameras.”
Like Elijah Wood’s previous film, Grand Piano, Open Windows is extremely dependent on visual effects. The best part is that it’s not even something you actually realize, while watching the film. If you are like me, you will be so engrossed in what’s unraveling before your eyes to even recognize the amount of green screens and special effects needed to make this whole thing happen. From things as simple as the hotel windows Nick is looking out of to the aforementioned ping-pong cams, everything is created by visual effects supervisors David Heras and Javier Martínez Pacín and their amazingly talented team at USER studios.
None of these visual effects would be as successful or even matter, however, if it wasn’t for the performers in the film. This ‘stalking celebrity’ film was full of great performances not only from Wood himself, but also his supporting cast. Neil Maskell did an awesome job as the masked mystery man, Chord, who constantly had me guessing and the three-man team of hackers, known as Triops, were a great addition to the non-stop action. I’ve seen Sasha Grey in a few of these non-adult film roles now and while I don’t think she is quite there yet as a ‘good’ actor, she is certainly improving and I can respect that. I think with each role she will get better, and I actually like continuing to see her pop up in these thriller and horror flicks from time to time.
I don’t think you’ve ever seen a film quite like Open Windows before. The 3D rendering created by the film’s ping-pong cameras alone will convince of this, I’m sure. It is an action packed, fast paced thriller that is entertaining from start to finish, and it will keep you excited and guessing the entire time. Be sure to pick up a copy of the film on Blu-ray and DVD from Cinedigm today.
I give it 4 hidden cameras out of 5.