Nothing scares prolific macabrist Stephen King more than an idle Underwood. Writer’s block has always been his personal beastie under the bed, and he usually punishes characters who just… can’t…create…with cruel fates. (Chilly, Mr. Torrance?) “Secret Window, Secret Garden,” King’s 1990 novella about an idea-choked scribe accused of plagiarism, is his bleakest depiction of the literary life, but it’s also built on his most telegraphed final-page twist. Writer-director David Koepp proves just how bleak and telegraphed in Secret Window, a disturbing adaptation saved from pure yuckiness by an actor at the top of his game—if not his role-choosing. Johnny Depp stars as Mort Rainey, a stalled scribe who spends half his time in his remote New York State cabin snoozing and the other half trying to quit boozing, smoking, and pining for his adulterous wife (Maria Bello). He’s jarred awake one day by a Mayberry-drawling creep calling himself John Shooter (John Turturro in demonic O Brother mode) and accusing Rainey of ripping off one of his stories—the one about a blocked writer murdering his wife. Shooter promises, and eventually delivers, a gore-drenched body count until Rainey “makes things right.” As a one-man show, Depp is a quirk-rich clown prince, muttering in the corners of the lonely lakefront cabin, mindlessly munching Doritos, and furrowing his brow as Rainey armchair-sleuths his way through the mystery. Known for his script work on Jurassic Park and Spider-Man, Koepp displays occasional flair behind the lens, especially during a silly-scary scene in which Rainey isn’t sure if Shooter is lurking in the bathroom or the bedroom closet. Ultimately, though, that big surprise—which, for some sadistic reason, Koepp makes even meaner than King’s—robs Secret Window of every one of its modest charms. Let’s just say that Rainey’s writer’s block and plagiarism problems have nothing to do with Jayson Blair—but that Alfred Hitchcock should consider himself flattered. —Sean Daly