Windows in the Movies

“I was fifteen when I saw my best friend die. Although, if you think about it, I was fourteen when I saw him die the first time. Time had a way of confusing me that year. Ever since I’ve looked at past and present with a jaundiced eye. What is now and what is then? The one thing I’m certain about is that the worst year of my life started on December 16th, even though the bad stuff didn’t happen until the next year. I’m certain of the date, because that’s when I discovered the window.”

-excerpt from The Window by Dave Cole

Such an ordinary thing, a window. And yet, sometimes an ordinary thing can become something sinister in an author’s hands. Add in the magic of Hollywood and the sinister becomes a psychological thriller. Here are three of my favorite movies with “window” in the title.

Rear Window (1954) is considered one of legendary director Alfred Hitchcock‘s best films. When Jeff Jeffries (Jimmy Stewart) is confined to a wheelchair, he has nothing to do but observe his neighbors from the rear window of his apartment. When Jeffries becomes convinced one of his neighbors has killed his wife, he enlists the help of Lisa (Grace Kelly), his fashion consultant girlfriend, to investigate. A taut, well-directed movie consistently ranked one of the top films of all time. There was a remake starring Christopher Reeve that came out in 1988, but I’d stick with the original. Rear Window was based on the book It Had to Be Murder by Cornell Woolrich.

Secret Window (2004), a psychological horror thriller, is one of many Stephen King stories to make its way to the movie theaters. Based on King‘s novella Secret Window, Secret Garden, the film stars Johnny Depp as a successful writer in the middle of a painful divorce and a case of writer’s block. Moving to a remote lake house in upstate New York to get his head straight, he is stalked by a would-be writer (John Torturro) who accuses him of plagiarizing his work. It wouldn’t be a psychological thriller without a misdirection or two. The window overlooks a secret garden in the backyard and the window’s view involves one of the disturbing twists.

The Woman in the Window, the 2021 movie based on the novel of the same name by AJ Finn, is the newest edition to the suspense films involving a view from a window. Agoraphobic Dr Anna Fox (Amy Adams) begins to spy on her neighbors, the picture-perfect Russell family. One night Anna witnesses Jane Russell (Jennifer Jason Leigh) being stabbed to death in the living room. The police don’t believe her story, claiming the family is all fine. Alistair Russell (Gary Oldman) arrives with “Jane,” only it is a different woman from the one Anna had met before.

And while it doesn’t have “window” in the title, I would be remiss to not at least mention the iconic window from The Exorcist. It’s a powerful scene which illustrates the sheer force of entity behind the window.

Check out these four films during the Halloween season to see how something so ordinary as a window has the power to give you a good scare.

Dave is the author of the YA novel The Window and The Math Kids series for middle grade readers. When he is not designing data center management software, he is usually reading, writing, or coaching elementary school math teams. He loves writing and his wife loves that he has found a hobby that doesn’t cost anything!

The Window
A dark window to the future…

Everything changed the day Brian Bingham looked out the attic window and saw something that wouldn’t happen for another week. Through a mysterious window no one else can see, Brian gains a portal into the future. But the future is not always something he wants to see.

Brian has enough troubles in the present without worrying about the future. His parents are constantly fighting, his grades are plummeting, and his new relationship with Charlotte, a girl way out of his league, is in jeopardy.

When the window reveals his best friend’s brutal death, Brian’s world is turned upside down. He must find a way to change the future…or die trying.

The Math Kids: The Prime-Time Burglars
Jordan and Justin are best friends and the only two kids in their class’s advanced math group. So it isn’t until Stephanie Lewis marches into their classroom that they meet someone who’s as good with numbers as they are. Their shared interest in math quickly draws them together, and the three soon form The Math Kids.

Unfortunately, life as math club kids isn’t always easy. In addition to extra homework, the three friends have two new problems. First, a string of mysterious burglaries has the whole neighbourhood on edge, including their parents. Then, they manage to earn unwanted attention from Robbie, the class bully. Luckily, Jordan, Justin, and Stephanie soon learn that their new club may give them the skills they need to solve both problems.

The Math Kids: A Sequence of Events
The Math Kids Club is back! After solving the case of the prime-time burglars, The Math Kids, Jordan, Justin, and Stephanie are ready to return to the original purpose of their club: solving math problems. And the district Math Olympics is the perfect opportunity to do just that. But before they can enter the competition, they need a fourth teammate. The Math Kids set their sights on Catherine Duchesne. Even though Catherine has been quiet in class, she knows some really cool math tricks that are sure to help The Math Kids win the competition. But when Catherine doesn’t show up for school and Jordan, Justin, and Stephanie find out her father’s been kidnapped, the group springs into action to help their new friend. The Math Kids: A Sequence of Events, the second book in David Cole’s fast-moving math adventure series.

The Math Kids: An Unusual Pattern
The Math Kids are at it again! When their new friend, Special Agent Carlson, asks them to take a look at a cryptic poem written by a dying bank robber, they know they will need all of their math skills to crack the case. The poem isn’t their only problem, though. Their favourite school janitor is fired for stealing from student lockers. The Math Kids know Old Mike would never do anything like that, but how can they prove it, especially with the new janitor watching their every move? Jordan, Stephanie, Justin, and Catherine will need math, bravery, and a little bit of luck if they hope to solve the bank robbery case and get Old Mike his job back. Will they be able to figure out the unusual pattern in time?

The Math Kids: An Encrypted Clue
When Stephanie Lewis finds secret writing in the margin of an old book in the library, The Math Kids have a new puzzle to solve. But first, they’ll have to learn about codes and ciphers and how they can use their math skills to solve them.

As one clue leads to another, the kids are drawn into the mysterious old house that overlooks the town. Is it really haunted like some of the townspeople say? And who is the man in the long beard who keeps showing up everywhere they go?

But that’s not their only problem. The town they live in is broke. Unless they can find a solution, the math competition they’ve been training so hard for will be cancelled.

Jordan, Stephanie, Justin, and Catherine will need to use all their problem-solving skills to figure out the clues before it’s too late.

The Math Kids: An Incorrect Solution
Fifth grade could not have a worse start for the Math Kids. Jordan, Justin, Stephanie, and Catherine have been split up. The girls are in one class with most of the bullies, which is proving to be chaotic. Meanwhile, the boys are stuck with their nemesis, Robbie Colson, and their new teacher, Mr. Miller, who makes it clear he doesn’t like math. Separated like this, the kids worry this could be the end of their math club. And, to complicate matters, there’s something going on with Robbie. When Jordan witnesses a shouting match between Robbie and his dad after school, he begins to question the bully’s history of injuries and wonders if Officer Colson might do more than yell.

People problems suddenly seem a lot more challenging than homework, but maybe with the right plan―and some math―the Math Kids can deal with their classroom woes and make sure Robbie stays safe.

The Math Kids: The Triangle Secret
A Mysterious Will Launches The Math Kids Into Their Riskiest Adventure Yet!

When FBI Special Agent Carlson is kidnapped while investigating the plane crash of Willard Howell, an eccentric billionaire inventor, the Math Kids spring into action.

If Catherine, Stephanie, Justin, and Jordan can figure out the Great Triangle mentioned in Howell’s will, they might just uncover who’s behind the crash and Agent Carlson’s kidnapping—if they don’t get caught themselves!