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A movie directed by Mikael Håfström

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Stephen King's Charming Panic Room...

  • Oct 14, 2007
Pros: Tense, startling, disturbing with flashes of humor

Cons: Horror, like Humor, is very subjective... not everyone has the same buttons. This work's biggest downfall is it's predictability.

The Bottom Line: Just in time for Halloween, "1408" is filled with devilish delights for all the eager boys and ghouls.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot.

I just Love what he's done with the wallpaper!

Mike Enslin is a writer who is currently making a living by writing about America's most haunted places; graveyards, lighthouses, and A die-hard skeptic who has lost all faith while struggling with personal tragedies, Mike believes that he would love nothing better than to prove to himself once and for all that there is life after death; Heaven, Hell, ghostly wanderings, something. An anonymous postcard puts him back in New York, the city his personal demons chased him away from over a year ago. Perhaps it is the memories of failed marriage, his father's mental decline, and his little girl that haunt his every waking moment.

Gerald Olin, the manager at the Dolphin hotel, does not allow any guests to stay in room 1408, and he has no intention of letting Enslin stay there either. Not because Olin claims it's haunted, not because of the book-sized bloody history of room 1408, not because he's trying to save Enslin's life, or even because he's trying to save his or his hotel's reputation, but simply because "It's a f#$%ing evil room" and he's "tired of cleaning up the mess." All of which convinces Mike that he must, at all costs, stay in this room.Olin and Enslin both know that, by law, Mike has every right to stay in an unoccupied room. "Do you know why I can stay in your spooky old room Mr. Olin? Because I know that ghoulies and ghosties and long-legged beasties don't exist. And even if they did, theres no god to protect us from them is there?" When all is said and done, Mike gets his way.

All the earnest arguments, Olin's refusal to even step off the elevator, the naturally eerie nature of all hotel hallways, especially old ones, cause Enslin, and viewers, to tighten with apprehension. Taking a look around the room, Mike says what anyone in the audience might be thinking... "This is it?!". Mike records some typically cynical notes as he moves around the suite and examines Olin's dossier on room 1408. "Eight dollars for beer nuts? This room is evil!" But it only takes five minutes of the macabre and disturbing activity of 1408 warming up to convince Mike that he made a mistake. Another five minutes... and he begins to realize just how large, serious and permanent a mistake he has made!

As we watch the demonic room toy with Mike, all that truly haunts him, all that he most earnestly fears deep within the seat of his soul, is revealed in a roller coaster of emotions from fear, to anger, to determination, to shock, and ultimately to acceptance. In accepting his fate, Mike moves past the motivation of powerful emotion, and realizes that 1408 has even used him to lure in its next totally unsuspecting victim, his estranged but still beloved wife.

"Why don't you just kill me?!" He screams at the room. "Because all guests of this hotel enjoy free will, Mr. Enslin." is the cheerfully delivered reply. This raises some interesting questions for viewers. What is the purpose of 1408? Where does it draw it's power from, what animates and motivates it? In an eerie calm, Mike appears to accept his inevitable demise... but is equally convinced that he is taking the Room with him. The minds and hearts of viewers race as we dare to hope our reluctant hero just might win!

1408 is one of the best Stephen King adaptations to screen that I've enjoyed since the lengthy and dramatic "Green Mile". It combines all the best horror elements (sudden attacks, gore, bouts of extremely questionable sanity/reality, desperate attempts at escape, and inescapable impending doom delivered in a infuriatingly chipper attitude), with the serious and intriguing exploration of the soul of our every-man protagonist.
Cusak has always excelled at drama and Sahara-dry wit delivered with exquisite timing, but here he shows himself to be the epitome of the thinking man's horror victim. After moving through the initial shock, terror and finally acceptance inherent in his situation, Mike reacts as anyone might, making plans to escape or contact the outside world. With every attempt, he draws the audience more soundly into his camp, encouraging us with his ever-ready humor that all hope is not lost.

"Some smart#$% once spoke of the banality of evil. If that's true, then we're in the 7th circle of Hell... (looks around) it does have its charms." While he certainly repeats some of the mistakes that most horror heroes aggravate audiences with, namely consistently putting himself into situations of obvious danger in order to escape, these moments serve primarily to remind us that Mike is human, fallible, and most of us would be in the same situation. I'd love to see Cusack take more roles like this one.

Samuel L. Jackson, as Gerald Olin, is heads a wonderful supporting cast in a film that is basically between one character and an evil room. The role of Olin requires someone with a great deal of confidence and personal presence to act as a foil for Enslin's obsessive determination. Jackson delivers the perfect blend of assurance and decisive fear to help convince audiences that if they were in Enslin's shoes, they would have listened to his warnings. Mary McCormack as Lily Enslin, young Jasmine Jessica Anthony as their daughter, Tony Shalhoub as Mike's self-absorbed greedy agent and many other marvelous supporting actors helped to make 1408 a very life-like horror film; Peopled, like our own lives, with a wide variety of flesh and blood individuals.

The story "1408" was originally just a couple of pages King wrote as an example on how revise a first draft in his non-fiction book, "On Writing". This story might never have been more than that, but once begun King became intrigued with the concept and the character, like most good writers, he couldn't let it simply lie around half-formed as a mere writing example. The original inspiration for King came from a collection of real-life news stories about parapsychologist, Christopher Chacon's, investigation of a notoriously haunted room at the famous Hotel Del Coronado in Coronado, California. I wonder if the writer, or audiences of 1408, would be more, or less reassured knowing that the inspiration came from someone's real life experiences?

I feel that King is an accomplished horror writer, very adept at pushing people's fear buttons. I have accepted that not everyone has the same buttons, and what sends me over the "creeped-out" edge might not even cause someone else to flinch and vice versa. Beyond that, even the most successful and skilled writers are going to inevitably churn out some rotten material in the course of a prolific career. Here, King reminds me most forcefully why I continue to look to his writings when in need of some truly superlative Horror! I've always found hotels to be rather hair-raising places to begin with, and I honestly thought that King had fully extracted that concept as I read "The Shining". I was pleasantly surprised to find "1408" still had some fresh surprises for me.

I viewed the Widescreen Director's Cut edition DVD. The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen- Images were crisp and vivid throughout, excellent for many of the fine details of the film. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack never exceeded an appropriately aggressive level during tense moments, nor did it sink to inaudibility during the quieter moments, a welcome relief in a horror film! Sound effects were wonderfully clear, adding to several key moments in the film

Optional commentary from the Director and Writers on the film and on the deleted scenes makes for some interesting points for viewers interested in the development of the story.

Deleted scenes are a must for all DVDs, in my opinion. They aren't all rare gems, but they certainly add to the appreciation of the finished film.

"The Secrets of 1408" This section contains four featurettes:

"The Characters": Contains some behind the scenes footage, and insight from the director and actors on the Characters of "1408". Interesting and well put together without being either too lengthy or too brief. Well worth the time it takes to view, the added insights round out the film nicely.

"The Director": An interesting look at Swedish Director Mikael Hafstrom both personally and through the eyes of the actors. This is only Hafstrom's second film in English! Learning this greatly increased my interest and admiration of this Director after having seen the excellence of the film.

"The Physical Effects": Almost always my favorite extra, this look at some of the films more challenging special effects is no exception. Most of the effects in this film were achieved physically, with skill and determination. I was particularly impressed watching all that the crew enduring during the scene where 1408 is flooded by seawater from one of the paintings. While watching the film, I had wondered how they had managed such a real-time feel to the scene as I assumed this was pieced together from a tank shot or some similar editing magic. Not so! At one point nearly the entire crew was knee-deep in roiling water, and I left this featurette mightily pleased.

"The Production Design": The Designer, Director and Producer discuss the unique challenges faced in creating a room that not only evolves, but expressed the "banality of evil". Andrew Laws, the Production Designer, talks about how typically when a Designer does their job they want people to walk in and immediately feel the atmosphere the film conveys. Here, he had to work against those instincts to present a room that people walk into and think, "wow, this looks so ordinary." An interesting featurette on a topic that is not typically discussed, nor discussed this well.

Final thoughts: A thrilling horror film excellently displayed with some solid extras even in this single disc edition. Just in time for Halloween, "1408" is filled with devilish delights for all the eager boys and ghouls. A must-have for Stephen King and horror fans!


Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Fit for Friday Evening
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older

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October 07, 2010
You are definitely right; horror is completely subjective. This flick did nothing at all for and I found it sadly trite and boring. I'm completely shocked that you gave this film a 5 while rating PAN'S LABYRINTH a 4. I guess that's what makes horse races though.
October 07, 2010
Actually, I'm surprised as well. Pan's Labrynth is Definitely a five, and a stellar work all around. Eventually, I'll get all the ratins on these older reviews straightened out and begin exploring this site more, learning its ropes. So far though, I've only updated the reviews you've been commenting on lol You've picked some good ones for me to hit though, and quite a few early pieces that were sadly in need of rewriting! Thanks for all the help! :o) wishing you laughter
October 07, 2010
The older I get the more I like comedy, so thanks for the wishes! =)
More 1408 (2007 movie) reviews
review by . November 19, 2010
The chief problem with all of 1408 remains the chief problem with most 'ghost'-based films: once you're absolutely certain that you're dealing with a ghost/spirit/evil-presence, etc., how much longer CAN you suspend your disbelief?      Based on a Stephen King short story (could you possibly have been expecting a happy ending?), 1408 revolves around a faithless paranormal author Mike Enslin, played perfectly by John Cusack. Enslin writes books about the alleged …
Quick Tip by . January 09, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
This movie isnt quite as scary as everyone said it was but it was a major mind trip. I really liked it especially the ending!
review by . December 30, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Of all of the Stephen King adaptations out there, the existence of 1408 probably has one of the most interesting stories.  The story itself can be found in a collection of short stories called "Everything's Eventual."  The story is often considered one of King's scariest and creepiest.  It is a more psychological kind of horror than it is one of slashers and mad killers.  These tend to be the kind that entice me more.  Many horror movies nowadays are what are often …
review by . December 30, 2009
Enter 1408 at your own risk....
Horror like action films and romantic Comedies has fallen prey to the disease that is formula. There hasn't been a full blown, original horror film in a long time. But now I have faith the genre can be saved thanks to a film called, 1408.                  1408 is a notch above the regular horror films It doesn't use overt use of gore and blood to tell it's story or to shock and scare you. Instead it use the basic techniques horror films …
review by . September 01, 2009
Pros: Good creep-out factor, Cusack has skills, cinematography     Cons: Slightly predictable in some respects     The Bottom Line: A solid film of supernatural horror.     Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot. It seems like once in a blue moon, I decide to let myself see a scary movie.  Normally, I don't do well with scary movies.  I've pretty much mastered my fear of the dark, but I still …
review by . February 06, 2009
've always appreciated the differences between psychological "horror" films and slasher horror films. It always tends to be the psychological ones the freak me the hell out. Then, I tend to laugh at films like The Exorcist. But films like 1408 and The Exorcism of Emily Rose always freak me out.    John Cussack has never been one of my favorite actors and he wasn't my favorite in this, but he managed to play the character, which was a depressed alcoholic "scariest places" author. …
review by . March 06, 2009
I was pleasantly surprised or should I say scared by this incredibly creepy film! This is one of the best screen adaptations of a King novel to a movie since The Shining.       John Cusak is a myth debunker who spends the night at places that are reputedly haunted and then writes books about his non-eventful night. He is warned not to stay in room 1408 at the New York Dophin. Of course he then insists on staying there and no amount of persuasion can stop him. Even documented …
review by . February 06, 2009
This is a creepy, scary movie.      It wisely starts off by setting up the main character, and making it clear that he's pretty bored with going to so-called haunted hotel rooms and finding nothing. Apparently writing about having seen no ghosts doesn't sell many books, either, which may explain why there are so many authors that apparently see them, and not many that don't.      After the initial setup, which was very well paced, there is the (basically) …
review by . October 31, 2008
Mike Enslin (John Cusack) writes "horror" guides to haunted places. With several books under his belt, he's become numb to the supposedly haunted surroundings he puts himself into. Until he hears about room 1408 at the Dolphin Hotel in New York City. In order to check into room 1408, Mike must get his attorney involved, regarding some blue law that if the room requested is unoccupied it must be rented upon request. It's the only way Mr. Olin (Samuel Jackson), manager of the Dolphin, will rent the …
review by . December 25, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
This is a creepy, scary movie.     It wisely starts off by setting up the main character, and making it clear that he's pretty bored with going to so-called haunted hotel rooms and finding nothing. Apparently writing about having seen no ghosts doesn't sell many books, either, which may explain why there are so many authors that apparently see them, and not many that don't.    After the initial setup, which was very well paced, there is the (basically) one …
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Quinn Blackburn ()
Ranked #48
Hello, my name is Quinn. :o) I also answer to Mom, YaYa, and occasionally Entwife. I enjoy Beauty wherever I find it... Nature, Music, Art in all its forms... I believe these to be true and sacred things … more
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The PG-13 rating given to 1408 belies this film's truly terrifying effects on its audience. Though it's far less gory than its peers, it has frightening moments and a creepy mood throughout. John Cusack (IDENTITY) plays Mike Enslin, a gifted writer who has turned his talents to paranormal travel books. His stays in haunted hotels never shake him, but he's intrigued by New York's Dolphin Hotel. Room 1408 has been the site of dozens of deaths, and this is a selling point for the skeptic in Mike. Despite the warnings of the hotel manager (Samuel L. Jackson, BLACK SNAKE MOAN), Mike resolves to stay in the haunted room. No one has lasted more than an hour in 1408, and Mike has his work cut out for him. <br> <br> Though Cusack got his acting pedigree in comedies, he proves he's able to adeptly carry a horror film. He's in practically every frame of the film, often alone, and he's great at making the audience share in his fear. This is the second English-language film from director Mikael Hafstrom (DERAILED), ...

Starring John Cusack, Tony Shalhoub, Samual L. Jackson
Directed by Mikael Hafstrom
Writer: Matt Greenberg, Scott Alexander
Based on a short story by Stephen King
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Director: Mikael Håfström
Genre: Horror
Release Date: June 22, 2007
MPAA Rating: PG-13
DVD Release Date: Weinstein Company/Genius (October 02, 2007)
Studio: Dimension Films, Weinstein Company
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