Director – Mikael Hafstrom
Cast – John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, Mary McCormack, Tony Shalhoub, Len Cariou, Isiah Whitlock Jr.
Release Year – 2007
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Here is a film that I really enjoyed after catching it in theaters a few years ago. Based on one of Stephen King’s stories, I found this flick to be a fresh addition to the horror genre during an era where not too many “fresh” horror films come out in theaters.
1408 stars John Cusack as author Mike Enslin, a man who makes a living by staying in “haunted” places and writing about his stay, although secretly…he does not believe in the “paranormal” given all of these “haunted” places yielded nothing of the sort. One day, out of the blue, he receives a postcard from a hotel in New York telling him not to stay in room 1408. Intrigued, he heads to the New York City hotel and after some pleading from the hotels manager(Samuel L. Jackson), he is allowed to stay the night in the hotel room that has taken dozens of lives over the years. All is fine at first, but soon enough, Mr. Enslin realizes that he may have just made a very fatal mistake.
As a fan of most of the Stephen King film adaptations over the years, I went into this film with high hopes that I would enjoy it. Although this film is not the strongest of the adaptations, I really enjoyed the film’s plot and found it to be a great psychological horror flick. Mike Enslin’s character development is superbly done as we see a broken man, with no honest purpose in life, go about making his money by lying his arse off about “haunted” places he had been, and how the ghosts tormented him during his stay. When he finally gets a real dose of “torment”, it is not only scaring him out of his mind, but brings us along with him and gives us a few scares of our own to suffer from. Aside from Samuel L. Jackson’s supporting role in the film(which does not amount to a whole lot of screen time), Mike Enslin is the only character we are really exposed to, which can be good or bad. Those wanting to see a smorgasbord of unique characters will not be satisfied, but those who prefer to see one person go deeper and deeper into madness will enjoy this film’s character use.
The backstory on the hotel room(1408) is an interesting one. I loved the scenes involving the hotel manager trying to sway Mr. Enslin to stay in another room by reluctantly showing him the grisly photos of the room’s previous occupants. We are never really shown what caused the room to send these people to their deaths, and I did not have a problem with that. The mystery behind the room is what sells this flick, and is sure to leave some travelers thinking about the hotel room they are staying in. Questions like “How many people have died in here?” and “What supernatural dealings have occurred in here?” will berate their minds thanks to this very well executed film.
Speaking of execution…I feel that director Mikael Hafstrom did an excellent job with this film’s atmosphere, especially given that fact that the majority of this film’s conflict takes place in one location…the hotel room. The hotel room itself was an excellent choice, providing the perfect balance of tranquil luxury with that slightly creepy feel thanks to the room’s odd color scheme and ornaments. The transitions in the room during the ending sequence were excellent as well, although they did cause the film to become slightly confusing. I enjoyed this though, and the confusion only adds to the viewer’s sense of the paranoia that Mike Enslin is going through himself. Genius huh?
I really enjoyed this film’s ending and it left me satisfied in more ways than one. One having to do with the backstory between Mr. Enslin and his previous life(and wife) as well as the notion that the supernatural really does exist, and is not just a figment of our ever exploring imaginations.
Overall, this is a positive film that shows Hollywood can still deliver a good film to theaters at times, although this does not occur often enough. If you are into supernatural horror or Stephen King’s work then this flick is for you.