1408 (2007): A Macabre Review.

1408 Poster

Hello there.   Today I I’m going to take a look at 1408.  As most of you probably know, it was adapted from the Stephen King short story of the same name.  I have not actually read the short story, so I can’t exactly compare it to the movie adaptation.  Anyway, let’s begin.

1408 centers around Mike Enslin (John Cusack), a somewhat less than rich and famous author who writes books involving supposedly haunted locations.  Enslin is in fact a skeptic when it comes to the supernatural, and it doesn’t help that each locale he investigates comes up with a huge zero when it comes to experiencing a ghostly sighting.  On top of that, his daughter has passed away recently, and his wife left him not too long after that.  So he’s not exactly living the dream.

1408

If this was the attendance at a book signing of mine, I don’t know if I’d keep writing.

A couple of days after a book signing that had a dismal attendance, Enslin receives a postcard without a name or return address.  The postcard has a few pictures of the Dolphin Hotel on the front, an ominous message stating simply: “Don’t Enter 1408.”  Enslin takes out a pen and makes a quick note that the individual numbers in 1408 add up to 13.  I assume this was done to cater to those audience members who don’t know math.

As you might expect, Enslin takes it as a challenge, and gets right on calling the hotel to reserve that very room.  To his surprise, he is refused the room by the receptionist as well as the manager himself.  But it wouldn’t be much of a movie if he didn’t get in now, would it?  Enslin’s agent (played by Tony Shalhoub) manages to find a law that states that if a room is vacant, they have to let a customer have it if they want it.   So Enslin is off to the hotel.

1408

ALCOHOL MOTHERFUCKER, DO YOU DRINK IT??

To try to sum things up a little better, upon arriving Enslin is approached by the Dolphin’s manager Gerald Olin (Samuel L. Jackson) who spends about ten minutes of movie time trying to convince the author to not go into the room, to no avail.  It doesn’t take long for things to start happening, but nothing right away that can’t be explained rationally.  However, after a while of being convinced that there was a rational explanation, things escalate to a physically and mentally dangerous level.  Unable to escape room 1408, Mike Enslin must endure a night of torture from the room.

I must admit, I do enjoy this movie.  For one thing, there is a high-caliber of acting talent involved.  John Cusack and Sam Jackson are very rarely giving bad performances (though I have yet to see Cusack’s The Raven, and I hear that was really bad), and 1408 was no exception.  I felt Cusack did a great job of being the bitter, unhappy author early on, and turn into a man whose sanity is hanging by a thread later on.  As well, the movie is very cerebral, with quite a few “What the Hell?” moments.  Also, as the bulk of the movie takes place in the hotel room, there is a sense of claustrophobia as there is no escaping, unless you just fly out the window.

1408

Haha, with my fear of heights, I’d sooner endure the room’s attempts to drive me mad.

There’s not much really to talk about in terms of negativity.  I sort of thought the apparitions that Enslin sees flickering in and out like a bad TV reception was sort of dumb, and is dumb no matter what movie it’s in.  if you’re a serious gore hound you’ll be disappointed.  Aside from Mike Enslin injuring his hand at one point, it’s a relatively blood-free movie.  As I mentioned, the focus is on the room playing serious mind games and wearing down Enslin mentally.  As well, there isn’t even a whole lot in the way of violence in general.  So if you need blood and or violence in a horror movie to survive, you may not like 1408 so much.

However, I still recommend whoever hasn’t seen 1408 yet to give it a try.  It’s one of the better King adaptations out there.  And if possible try to watch it on Blu-Ray.  From what I hear the Blu-Ray version has the original downer ending, where my dvd version only has the alternate, somewhat happier ending.  I haven’t even seen this other ending.  Though after doing this review, I may take the time to look into it and see how I feel about it.  But that’s all for today.  Until next time, rest in peace.

Macabre Rating: 4 out of 5 tombstones

4 responses to “1408 (2007): A Macabre Review.

  1. I’m going to have to watch this one again. I remember that I really enjoyed the first half and the build-up, and the initial ghostly activity in the room. But then the room went so haywire and over the top it sort of lost me. I thought they could have achieved a much deeper level of suspense and scare with a little more subtlety.

    As a side note, I have a friend who travels a lot for his job. For the past several years he has researched and booked the most haunted hotels and the rooms within those hotels whenever he could. I’ve always wished I could do that.

  2. Great review. I think this film is very underrated. Cusack, as you said, did a great job, and I liked the shot with the opposite window. I thought it was very clever and scary.

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