Saturday, 30 April 2011

1408 (2007) FILM REVIEW



The cynical and skeptical writer Mike Enslin writes books evaluating supernatural phenomena in hotels, graveyards and other haunted places, usually debunking the mystery. While writing his last book, he travels from Los Angeles to New York to spend one night in the evil room 1408 of the Dolphin Hotel, which is permanently unavailable for guests. The reluctant manager Mr. Gerald Olin objects to his request and offers an upgrade, expensive booze and finally the reports relating the death of more than fifty guests along decades in the cursed room. However, Mike threatens Mr. Oiln, promising to sue the hotel, and finally checks in the room. Along the night, he finds that guests of room 1408 can check in when they like, but they can never leave the room alive.


Horror | Thriller

Different, Subtle, and Very, Very Good

Please note that this review refers to the theatrical version, and not the Director's Cut DVD release which features a completely different ending.

Mike Enslin is a cynic. He is the author of books that detail and debunk popular ghost stories and haunted hot-spots, and it quickly becomes obvious that he is somewhat disenchanted with the life that he leads. That is, of course, until he receives an invitation to Room 1408 at the Dolphin Hotel, a room in which lies his and arguably John Cusack's biggest challenge yet.

It soon becomes apparent that 1408 is not your standard horror movie, as what follows, after an enjoyably creepy encounter with hotel manager Gerald Olin (Samuel L Jackson), is essentially 90 minutes of John Cusack in a room. On his own. Save for, of course, whatever lurks inside 1408. It is a challenge that Cusack rises to expertly; we all know he's a good actor and a brilliant everyman (I don't remember a film in which I've wanted to see him crash and burn), but 1408 allows him to display his range to great effect as the room confronts him with the physical dangers of the present and the emotional tragedies of his past.

While it's relatively light on big scares, 1408 instead creates a powerful sense of unease that combines wonderfully with Cusack's portrayal of a man enduring his own private hell. Each challenge thrown up by the room takes the movie somewhere new and unexpected, ensuring that the movie never really gets tired or repetitive, and as a result each scene in the room is tense, surprising, and very, very creepy. However, that's not to say that it doesn't lose its way occasionally. Some of the CGI usage is quite ineffective, and about two-thirds through the movie it feels like it's about to go the wrong way, but it recovers well for the final act, and its haunting ending ensures that you'll remember it long after you leave the theatre.

A brilliantly acted, well developed version of King's short story, 1408 is a different type of horror movie, but in all the right ways. Very good!

Directed by
Mikael Håfström 
Writing credits
Matt Greenberg (screenplay) and
Scott Alexander (screenplay) &
Larry Karaszewski (screenplay)
Stephen King (short story)
Cast (in credits order) 
John Cusack ... Mike Enslin
Samuel L. Jackson ... Gerald Olin
Mary McCormack ... Lily
Tony Shalhoub ... Sam Farrell
Len Cariou ... Mike's Father
Isiah Whitlock Jr. ... Hotel Engineer
Jasmine Jessica Anthony ... Katie
Paul Birchard ... Mr. Innkeeper
Margot Leicester ... Mrs. Innkeeper
Walter Lewis ... Book Store Cashier
Eric Meyers ... Man #1 at Book Signing
David Nicholson ... Man #2 at Book Signing
Holly Hayes ... Lady at Book Signing
Alexandra Silber ... Young Woman at Book Signing
Johann Urb ... Surfer Dude
Andrew Lee Potts ... Mailbox Guy
Emily Harvey ... Secretary
William Armstrong ... Clay the Lawyer
Kim Thomson ... Desk Clerk
Drew Powell ... Assistant Hotel Manager
Noah Lee Margetts ... Bellboy
Gil Cohen-Alloro ... Maitre D'
Benny Urquidez ... Claw Hammer Maniac
Ray Nicholas ... Factory Owner
Tina Maskell ... 1950s Lady
Paul Kasey ... Kevin O'Malley
George Cottle ... Mailbox Worker
Julian Spencer ... Mailbox Worker
William Willoughby ... Mailbox Worker (as Will Willoughby)
Angel Oquendo ... Taxi Cab Driver
Thomas A. McMahon ... Cop #1
Anthony C. Mazza ... Cop #2 (as Anthony Mazza)
Chris Carey ... Fireman
Kevin Dobson ... Priest
Lily Grace Alexander ... 10 Year Old Girl (in director's cut only)

Produced by
Kelly Dennis .... associate producer
Lorenzo di Bonaventura .... producer
Antonia Kalmacoff .... associate producer
Jake Myers .... executive producer
Richard Saperstein .... executive producer
Jeremy Steckler .... associate producer
Bob Weinstein .... executive producer
Harvey Weinstein .... executive producer
Original Music by
Gabriel Yared 
Cinematography by
Benoît Delhomme (director of photography) (as Benoit Delhomme)
Film Editing by
Peter Boyle

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