Released: 14th May
Seen: 20th May
Sometimes a film comes out and you can just see its influences before the film even begins. The Woman in the Window as a film is clearly lifting a lot from films like Rear Window and Copycat, which are both fine films to take as influences so you would think that would hopefully lead to an interesting tense movie. Well, apparently this film’s other influence was an overturned trash can that racoons have picked through because this is actual garbage.
The Woman In The Window, based on the novel of the same name by known liar A.J. Finn (Seriously, look up the shit this guy lied about. It’s disgusting) follows an agoraphobic drunken pill popping child psychologist Dr Anna Fox (Amy Adams). Anna manages to make her agoraphobia work for her, leases out her basement to a parolee named David (Wyatt Russel) and watches the people outside her little sanctuary. That sanctuary is broken one day when Anna hears a scream coming from her neighbour’s house, The Russell’s.
Upon looking over there she sees what appears to be the mother, Jane Russell (Julianne Moore) being murdered by her husband Alistair (Gary Oldman) while their son Ethan (Fred Hechinger) watches. Horrified she calls the police, except not only can the police not find any evidence of a murder but Ethan and Alistair insist that Jane is still alive, as is proven when Jane turns up alive but looking different (Specifically she looks like Jennifer Jason Leigh because that’s who plays this second woman). Anna, adamant that she saw what she saw, sets out to prove that Alistair is a murderer and wackiness ensues.
It is honestly kind of stunning that The Woman In The Window is as bad as it is. It’s got a cast full of Oscar winners and nominees but no one has bothered to bring their good acting, it was adapted by the guy who wrote August Osage County but all the dialogue is stilted and horrible and it was directed by the guy who directed Darkest Hour but it feels like a bad 90s slasher that tried to copy Scream but failed miserably. Every element that went into this thing should’ve added up to a great thriller but everything is just off in such a way that it becomes farcical.
The story itself is… well, it’s Rear Window but with a pill popping agoraphobe instead of a man with a broken leg and a much stupider explanation at the end. As a story you could see this working, in part because it has worked every time someone tries to copy Rear Window. Even with that very well laid out foundation, The Woman In The Window somehow butchers everything. The tension that this kind of story should naturally have is absent, there isn’t a single moment of this film that’s even remotely tense because it’s too busy trying to look like a shitty Scream rip-off.
Every single time The Woman In The Window approaches potential, it does something stupid to throw everything off. From giving the act of pulling an umbrella out of an umbrella stand the same sound as a butcher’s knife being pulled from a wooden block, to a dramatic zoom out accompanied by a bad blood splatter overlay, every moment of potential tension is resoundingly destroyed by the creative choices. I should be horrified seeing a major character getting stabbed, I was too busy chuckling because it looked exactly like a scene from Scary Movie complete with farcical understanding of how human bodies move when kicked.
Of course, these moments of potential were already damaged before the sound effects could destroy them because every single person in the cast has decided that the scenery looked delicious and they decided to eat it all. Anyone who has read my list of best performances from last year knows that I’m normally down for a good scenery chewing performance but there is a caveat to that… you can’t expect me to take you seriously when you have a mouthful of the background, and The Woman In The Window has the audacity to want me to treat it like a serious film. It’s not serious, it’s an accidental parody of Clue.
Every single performer, without exception, has lines that are delivered so badly that the only genuine way to react is to laugh so loudly it’ll wake the dead. Lines that shouldn’t be funny like “He’s dead” became laugh riots due to the weird choices everyone made. Did the director just not ask for a second take? Did no one catch that they were making a farce out of this thriller? I don’t get how you can finish this film and think you’ve made something serious and dramatic. The Woman In The Window just flat out isn’t either of those things, no matter how many times you have the camera do a dramatic zoom in while a character is talking.
The Woman In The Window is just a failure at everything it tries to be. It tried to be a thriller, it turns out it’s a comedy. It tried to be visually interesting, it ended up looking about 30 years out of date. It tried to have a dramatic twist, I called every single reveal within minutes of meeting each character. There is nothing about it that works, it’s a perfect failure that almost shouldn’t be this bad due to the talent attached to it. It’s just hilariously bad, but not hilarious enough to have any actual value.