Jaded and mourning paranormal investigator/writer Mike Enslin (Cusack) gets his meatballs handed to him on a plate when he decides to spend the night in the mucho haunted Room 1408 of the Dolphin Hotel. Ouch…now that’s what I call a supernatural whooping!
Nothing would make me happier than experiencing a paranormal event! - Mike
This “based off a Stephen King short story”
flick was perfect timing for yours truly. I’ve been a on King kick since I
recently read CELL and have been going backwards to re-munch on his old work when the opportunity lends itself (am tapping The Mist short story right now).
Although I’ve never read this tale out of King’s 2002 horror collection Everything’s Eventual
; I sure felt
all warm and fuzzy while watching this cinematic rendition as it reeked of King! Which is a good thing since the adaptations that are able to transcend the King vibe successfully onto
the screen are rarer than a monogamous stripper who knows how to spell IQ. Taking its cue from King’s room number device from The Shining; 1408 didn’t ring around the dead lay when it came to machine-gunning potent spooks my way. The affair went down a bit like this: set-up, vicious fear
pummeling – conclusion; that was it, that was all. Now don’t get me wrong, there was some substance in the house; with an unfortunate death in the protagonist’s life being the core of it; but the flick was obviously more interested in shaking, baking
and scaring our asses non-stop than exploring characters and feelings. Nothing wrong with that, if the ride is a
gnarly one, thankfully it was here.
1408 reminded me of a gritty boxing match. In one corner John “freaking” Cusack
armed with his smug look, potent acting chops and wild hair. In the other corner; an evil f*cking haunted room with every slick
fright trick in the book lodged up its gloves. Bell rings… let the bout begin! And what a battle it was! The flick slyly started off its tomfoolery low-key, using trued and tried scare techniques on its lead and us. As the clock ticked forward; the
tension grew and the beatings became more and more severe. Powerful left hooks were launched and a couple of well placed uppercuts took Cusack
and this dumbass by surprise, sending us both to the mat; begging for a tissue and our mommies. Finally the ante was jacked up to full tilt when the
bully room dropped strategy, technique and rules and turned everything into an all out street fight;
it was no holds barred in room 1408! I was loving it!
Big props go out to the creative team behind this vice-grip for managing to take
a story that largely took place in one room with one dude and keep it compelling
and fresh for the most part. I was hooked in mouth
the whole way through as the
movie just kept topping itself in the creepy, boo scares and effective suspense departments. John Cusack
carrying the flick helped matters as well! Although Cusack has never been a fav of mine,
I couldn't help but totally be on his side here. He held this macabre circus together like a
one-man-show-pro, made me care about his character and made me believe in the
warped events that were befalling him. Add to all that some amusing twists that I
actually saw coming (you will too if you know your horror) but that were a hoot nonetheless when the hammer
dropped, a handful of circumstantially funny moments that rubbed me the right
way, a clever use of sound/silence and a groovy appearance by one of the coolest mofo around i.e.
Samuel L Jackson
and you get a bumpy rollercoaster ride of thrills, yuk-yuks and chills.
Now I did have a couple of bones to pick with this bony bitch. Now and again I felt
"post-prod over-cooking” off this one; especially during the first block. It hurt its flow and structure
and had me disoriented for a bit early on. Which leads me to the substance at hand; it was there no doubt and so was the potential for drama and heart tugging. Sadly every time the flick would dip its toe in
that pool, it would never go deep enough to fully whoop me emotionally. In my
insignificant opinion, a tad more leaning towards the drama would have made the
whole stronger. Then again, I know that I know nothing; hence what the f*ck do I
know! Finally some un-intentional laughter popped out now and again with the Mini-Sam Jackson who lives in a mini bar cracking me up big time.
Whatever was said during that scene went over my head; I was too busy laughing
my ass off!
All in all though; 1408 started strong, scared hard, rolled on smooth and ended at just the right time. Could it have been more than a vacuous “fun times” ride at the out house? Yup;
it was all there but somebody didn’t want to go that way. With that said; I jumped; got
the heebies, laughed and had an overall fly times at the movies. You can call me
a satisfied customer! Or an asshole! YOUR PICK!
We get some light blood and semi disturbing imagery - this one didn’t play the gore card.
John Cusack (Mike) put out an appealing, colorful and highly credible show that had a strong hand in keeping me in the game. I can never get enough of Samuel L. Jackson (Gerald) and here was no exception. His stint was brief but memorable…as always. Mary McCormack (Lily) lent her limited role some depth and heart via her grounded performance. Was that Tony Shalhoub (Sam) popping up for one groovy dialogue hefty bit? You bet it was! He owned it!
No skirts or tops were dropped…a good thing since John Cusack IS this film. Last thing I wanna see is him drop his top or skirt.
Mikael Håfström helmed this puppy with gusto; hitting all the right beats in terms of his scare set pieces, bringing out the proper dread filled atmosphere (the able cinematography sure helped in that respect) and knowing how to frame for uber whoopass. Me likey!
The score here was efficiently subtle in the way it reinforced the images’ impact without ever being intrusive. I also dug the sly use of “"We've Only Just Begun"” by The Carpenters. Fun stuff!
1408 was a brilliantly acted (Cusack owned this one like nobody's poodle!), well paced, mucho frightening and utterly enjoyable sit down that rarely let up for a Scooby-Snack. Granted; I personally would’ve liked more emphasis on the drama (hence upping the stakes of the fear shenanigans) and found some of the editing a tad too tight at times; but no big deal Taco-bean; I had a truckload of scary fun with it all! A freaking blast! So Mission accomplished;1408 came through!
1408 is the 2nd short story in the audio book Blood and Smoke (2000). It was
slapped down in written form in 2002 as part King's collection of short stories
King originally wrote a couple of pages of the story, to be used solely as an
example as to the writing process in his non-fiction book "ON WRITING". He
eventually got inspired and wrote the whole story.
Word has it that the 1408
DVD will sport deleted scenes and an alternate ending.
CHECK IN ROOM 1408 HERE