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1408 (2-Disc CE)
DVD disk
Oct 12, 2007 By: Quigles
1408 (2-Disc CE) order
Director:
Mikael Hfstrm

Actors:
John Cusack
Samuel L. Jackson
Mary McCormack

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A writer who focuses primarily on stories about haunted houses and the like learns the true meaning of terror when he checks into room 1408 of the Dolphin Hotel.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Talk about a return to form. Not only do we have John Cusack back in action as his usual charming self, but we've also got the first quality PG-13 horror flick in what feels like a decade (or... ever). Add to that it's based on a book from Stephen King (the movie adaptations of which have been almost universally terribleexcluding, of course, THE SHINING), it's stunning the film turned out as well as it did.

1408 takes a simple psychological horror tale about a man trapped in an evil room (or as Sam Jackson calls it, "An evil f*cking room."), and then pulls out all stops to make sure it's as captivating as can be. Even before the scares get into full swing, you're not just sitting there waiting for Cusack to enter the room; his banter with Samuel L. Jackson is too fun to let that happen.

A half hour down the line, when he finally gets inside, the film escalates the "weird events" perfectly. There are subtle touches to the script and filmmaking that work wonders, such as the clever use of the tape recorder which allows for Cusack to talk to himself (in a sometimes predominantly humorous manner) without it coming across as forced. Without spoiling what actually takes place in the room, additions like the radio playing oldie tunesspecifically, The Carpenters' "We've Only Just Begun"are startlingly effective. And based on the comments Cusack makes as the night carries on, you can tell he's losing it pretty fast; I know I would. It also doesn't help that the room plays to your most unpleasant memories, eventually making you long for death rather than forcing it on you.

The horror elements in 1408 are most satisfying earlier on, when the room hasn't yet released an all-out attack on Cusack's sanity. Even when the film's not scary though, it remains fascinating. You keep wondering what could possibly happen next, and then it usually does. For a movie about a guy in a room, director Mikael Hfstrm has certainly done an amazing job keeping things from becoming repetitive or stale.
THE EXTRAS
There are two different editions of the film to enjoy. The single disc comes with only the extras listed on "Disc 1", while the "Two-Disc Collector's Edition" comes with everything listed below.

To read about the Director's Cut of the film, skip to the section on "Disc 2".

DISC 1

John Cusack on 1408 (2:30): A very brief "webisode" interview with Cusack discussing the movie and his role in it. Meh.

Inside Room 1408 (2:05): Another "webisode", this time dealing with the set of the room.

Also included is the film's Theatrical Trailer.

DISC 2

1408 - Director's Cut: Available only to those that buy the "Collector's Edition", there's an extended Director's Cut (complete with a vastly different alternate ending) allowing viewers the freedom of choosing between two different cuts of the film. Although, I doubt I'll have much trouble deciding on repeat viewings which one I'm going to watch. The Director's Cut offers some mildly interesting variations (mostly in the film's second half), but the pacing and ending in the theatrical version are much better. Its runtime is 8 minutes longer.

Audio Commentary (with director Mikael Hfstrm, and writers Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski): This track only plays on the Director's Cut, which actually allows viewers kill two birds with one stone (you can check out the commentary and see what's new in terms of footage at the same time). It makes for a good listen.

Deleted Scenes (11:21 - with optional commentary): There are 5 scenes total, a couple of which are very interesting. Most notably, the missing segment found in the trailer with Jackson commenting, "I warned you about 1408!"

The Secrets of 1408 (22:48): This behind-the-scenes featurette is broken up into four sections: The Characters, The Director, The Physical Effects, and The Production Design. They're all fairly self-explanatory, offering up interviews and insight into the making of the film, but they don't deliver anything you haven't come to expect from featurettes like this.

Miscellaneous: As an added bonus, the 2-Disc Edition of the film also comes with "5 Collectible Postcards", featuring cool images from the film and pun-tastic lines like, "The maid service is killer." Nice.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
With so many awful horror movies getting thrown our way, it's a wonderful feeling to finally get one that delivers in every possible respect. Even the story with the little girl, which easily could've been one big frustrating clich, works wonders thanks to Cusack's unsurprisingly terrific performance and the stylish yet unobtrusive direction. Fans of psychological horror films (as well as just regular slasher fare) owe it to themselves to pick this up.
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