1408


Directed by: Mikael Hafstrom
Written by:Matt Greenberg, Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszweski
Starring: John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, Mary McCormack, Tony Shalhoub, Jasmine Anthony
Released: December 6, 2007
Grade: B

Mike Enslin (Cusack) writes books about creepy, haunted places.  In the film, we meet him for the first time at a book signing which is attended by a handful of people.  I’m guessing he’s not that popular but has a few loyal fans.  He admits to the audience that whilst he’d like to, he’s never actually seen a ghost or had a paranormal experience.

His next book will be on the 10 most haunted hotel rooms.  He receives a postcard out of the blue which suggests that he try Room 1408 at the Dolphin Hotel in New York City.  He calls the hotel but they are unwilling to take the booking – receiption keep saying that the room is never available.

With the help of his editor and his lawyer, Enslin gets what he wants.  He turns up at the front desk of the Dolphin and asks to be checked in for one night in Room 1408.  Before he does so however, the hotel’s manager (Jackson) does everything he can to convince Enslin otherwise.  He says there have been 56 deaths in Room 1408 since the hotel was built almost a century ago.  Most people don’t last more than an hour.

Enslin’s mind cannot be changed.  He thinks the deaths are some bizarre coincidence and that the manager is acting this way just to attract attention to the hotel.  There’s no such thing as a haunted hotel room, right?  Enslin is given the key to the room and escorted to the 14th floor.  What will happen when he opens the front door?

This is a really cool premise and I was even more excited when I heard it was based on a short story by Stephen King.  For the most part, it’s a decent movie.  It’s not really “scary” but it’s interesting to see what lengths the “room” will go to make Enslin its 57th victim.  The great visual effects make it all the more believable.

I’m a big fan of John Cusack and I read a recent interview with him that confirms my stance.  He loves a good script and is attracted to unusual projects.  Just look at him in films such as Being John Malkovich and Gross Pointe Blank.  He liked the idea of 1408 because it’s just him and the room in pretty much every scene.  There’s little interaction with other characters he thought it would be a challenge.  Having seen the finished product, I think Cusack has done a super job.  His character is likeable and you’ll be hoping he gets the better of the evil room.

Sadly, the film is let down by a poor ending.  It’s as if the writers didn’t know how to end it and whipped something together in a short period of time.  I haven’t read the Stephen King short story so perhaps this is how it is supposed end?  Still, I expected something more.  I expected a twist or some unexpected revelation.

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