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A movie directed by Mikael Håfström

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Cusack Soars In 1408, But The Film Doesn't

  • Nov 19, 2010
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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 'haunts' across America, spending the night in haunted hotels to debunk the supposed ghostly experience. He's a professional cynic -- a writer who believes in what he can see, not what he's been told -- and he's out to prove, essentially, that there's no such thing as an afterlife. After receiving a bump on the head from a surfing accident, Enslin receives a mysterious postcard from an anonymous fan warning him to avoid staying in Room 1408 of the upscale Dolphin Hotel. Intrigued moreso with the opportunity to debunk yet one more contemporary urban myth, he immediately books the room for one night ... and what a night it turns out to be.

1408 (the room, not the movie) is occupied (not only with weary travelers, but also something far more ominous): 1408 is evil itself, receiving its marching orders from the deepest, darkest fears of the boarders themselves. At first, the room greets Enslin with precisely the antics anyone would expect -- weird noises, weird appearances, and other general weirdness ... but, before his stay is over, evil itself will have looked deep into the writer's heart and soul, bringing to the surface only those memories that can crack an already fragile human psyche.

Where the film excels is the performance of John Cusack. As Mike Enslin, he embodies the writer with a sense of curiosity coupled with hints of disbelief. Cusack's scenes with Samuel L Jackson (the hotel's manager, who primarily serves to set-up the history of the legendary room, no doubt 'sounding' like John Cusack's inner voice at a time when the writer truly believed in what he was reporting) are brilliant; they perfectly draw Enslin (and the viewer) deeper and deeper into the mystery of the Dolphin Hotel, and the verbal banter shows how well Cusack holds his ground as an actor against his learned peers.

Where the film fails (or stumbles, at least) is what I stated in my lead paragraph: once you know what you're dealing with -- that the room is evil, that its peeling back the layers of Enslin's life and darkest tragedies -- at what point can the viewer believe in what he's seeing? The crux of any good ghost story is maintaining the level of interest for the viewer. Things that go bump in the night are only scary for so long, but 1408 is about things that go bump in the M-I-N-D, events that alter one's life, events that inspire despair and longing instead of enforcing hope and humanity. While Cusack's performance lifts the film higher than the typical spook tale, I personally (and it's always a matter of taste) didn't find the story to be a fitting counterpoint. It's a good entry into a rarely effectively explored sub-genre of the ghost story; on that point, the film's worth a viewing.

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January 11, 2012
Since I'm genuinely tired of most of the straight-up shit that Hollywood spews from its collective (and figurative) rot; I thought this was a well-made and wild ride. Cusack is excellent and Sam Jackson is appropriately creepy (if not a little under-used, for his role). A lot better than "The Rite" (the director's follow-up film), if you ask me.
January 09, 2011
Yeah, those are some great observations. Thanks for the review!
More 1408 (2007 movie) reviews
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 . October 14, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
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 …
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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Ed ()
Ranked #12
What? You don't know enough about me from the picture? Get a clue! I'm a graduate from the School of Hard Knocks! You can find me around the web as "Trekscribbler" or "Manchops".   … 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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