Genres: Horror, Thriller
Runtime: 94 minutes
Studio: Dimension Films
Review done by: Serial McKiller
Online since: February 20th, 2006
Starring: John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, Mary McCormack, Jasmine Jessica
Anthony, Chris Carey, Len Cariou, Peter Conboy
Director: Mikael Håfström
Synopsis: Adapted from the short story by Stephen King, a man who
specializes in debunking paranormal occurrences checks into the fabled room
1408 in the Dolphin Hotel. Soon after settling in, he confronts genuine terror.
Why does it seem that all the bigger movies this summer have let us down?
Then we have the small indie flicks and for the most part this summer they
too have let us down. There is no "Little Miss Sunshine" this year. However
it's been the B-line films that have excelled in all places. Case in point MGM
and Dimension films "1408" with John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson. A
fantastically well crafted, intelligent, creative, horror piece from author
Stephen King's short story and director Mikael Håfström. Cusack plays Mike
Enslin, an author of a series of books about haunted places in the United
States. Enslin has a slight self-important, seen it all attitude about himself
however things are just as they should be for that type of writer. In the
beginning he's at a book discussion and signing and theres a total of four
people there to listen and one lady asks the most token question one could
ask someone like that.... "what's the scariest place you've ever been?"
At some point he checks his mail and has a post card from New York for the
Dolphin Hotel saying "Do Not Go to 1408". And of course...wouldn't you go?
There the hotel manager Gerald Olin played by Samuel L. Jackson attempts
for a good while to talk him out of doing this, even offering him a folder of
unreleased death information from the room which had a grand death toll of
53 and a few that were from natural causes...something the news never
reported on. And of course after much back and fourth he gets the room and
then the weirdness begins. When it get's weird, it gets weird. Thankfully so.
It's been a long time since I've seen a truly great, well crafted ghost story.
Stephen King, while I feel in his E-Entertainment columns is a bit of a
pretentious know-it-all, he can still tell an interesting and compelling chiller.
Cusack is tailor made for the role of Enslin as most of the movie is a one man
show, it's never boring or dull for a second because everything is always
moving and turning and shifting and getting a bit more maddening.
He's convincing through every emotional range from sadness to humor to
sorrow. And while all the nice creepy Carpenter's music is playing and images
of the dead tip out the window, Mike is also reliving one of the worst events
any parent can have. Which is the loss of their child at a young age. The
underlined point of '1408' is pain and suffering and finding yourself through it,
no matter what hell you go through. Which is a pretty damn good moral to
the story I feel. Not to sound hokey, but the days of horror films reflecting
the times or any events or ideas other than to try and scare or gross out the
audience seems to have been sliced in diced. All people want is crap like
"Saw", so much so that there's soon to be four of them (*looks towards the
heavens and cries why?*) that rarely do we see classy horror films like this
Which brings me to the work from director Mikael Håfström, who seemed to
channel a lot of old chillers, but then bring it into a new generation. It's story
and character co-existing with style and creativity. One of my favorite
sequences is when one room is being physically broken through to once
again reveal the hotel room. A scene that 9 times out of 10 would be done
with a ton of CGI and wouldn't be nearly this tense, surprising or creative. I
think Hafstrom could have an incredible future in American horror filmmaking.
In a summer where the big haven't had the proper bang, and the ultra small
haven't had an impact it's great to see these medium sizers like "28 Weeks
Later" and this really hitting the right marks and making for some of the best