1408 Review

“…a terrifying, emotionally draining film that definitely earns its spot as one of the better Stephen King adaptations.”

Last night I watched 1408 and I honestly had forgotten how much I loved this movie. 1408 is a movie that was adapted from a Stephen King short story of the same name, and is about an author who makes a living by investigating, then writing about, different haunted locations. This author, Mike Enslin, receives a postcard warning him about the room 1408 at the Dolphin Hotel in New York, but when he tries to book the room he is constantly brick-walled by employees and managers alike. Citing a law that any hotel has to rent a room if it is vacant, Mike gets his way and what he discovers is a not like his usual song and dance of “ghosties and ghoulies”, but instead a personalized hell.

Now what I love about this film is that it doesn’t really have a catch of a ghost or spirit. There isn’t one thing in particular that is causing this misery, it is just “an evil fucking room”. This premise is a breath of fresh air in the mess of haunting films I have seen in the past little while, and it was even a refreshing idea many years ago when I first saw the film. What I love so much about the premise is the fact that the main character is completely hopeless, and rightfully so. This room is able to tug at every string in this man’s head that is keeping him sane, and it does so without even (metaphorically) breaking a sweat. Because we see the main character’s spirits broken over and over again, our spirits too begin to suffer the same fate. We feel just as trapped as Mike in this hellish prison that is room 1408.

The film, for me at least, is so effective because it not only relies on run-of-the-mill scares, but it also taxes you emotionally leaving you feeling absolutely drained, much like the main character must have felt. Now there are a few missteps in the scare department, and unfortunately I think they hurt the film. These are scares that I would deem, not exactly cheap but average. When you set up the premise of a hotel room that tortures its guests to the point of them happily killing themselves, a few manifestations that chase the guests around for a few minutes seems tame in comparison to the rest of the film. Of course I’m trying not to spoil those scares because for some people they may still be effective, but they just made the movie feel cheap to me.

The movie was very well executed in my opinion, apart from a few hiccups (which I have mentioned). One of the first marks of how great this film is would be the acting. Now 1408 is largely a one-man movie, that man being John Cusack playing Mike Enslin. Seriously, he does an amazing job. Like I mentioned the film is not just full of regular scares, but deeply emotional moments and John Cusack plays that part well. He also does a good job of slowly breaking over time, starting as a man who does not believe in the occult and ending as a man begging to be released from the fresh hell that he is experiencing. The other actors in the film also did a pretty great job, specifically Samuel L. Jackson who managed to play someone other than Samuel L. Jackson. Other notable parts of the film would be the score, which was subtle yet haunting, the camera work, which did a great job of making us lose out minds along with the main character, and the effects which were very well done.

The last issue I had with 1408 was the ending of the film. Maybe I’m a pessimist, but it seemed a bit too upbeat for the rest of the story. It wasn’t necessarily a bad ending, it just felt out of place to me.

Ultimately 1408 is a terrifying, emotionally draining film that definitely earns its spot as one of the better Stephen King adaptations.

I give 1408 a B

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