I’ll get right to the point. 1408 is fantastic. Nay, phenomenal even. John Cusack, in addition to being my personal hero, is amazing in this movie.
When I heard they were making another Stephen King story into a movie, I was skeptical at first. But I read the story anyway, and I thought it was good. When I later learned they were casting John Cusack as the lead role, I immediately committed to seeing it opening weekend. I’m glad I did.
While I read the short story version a while back, and can’t quite recall if they followed closely along King’s guidelines, I can say that the movie doesn’t disappoint. However, if you go into the movie expecting to be “scared”, then you will be disappointed. This isn’t a typical horror movie. This isn’t a movie designed to make you jump out of your seat at every turn. Given, there are instances where you’ll jump a bit, or get freaked out. The movie is made to tell you a story. The story of 1408, at the Dolphin Hotel, New York, New York.
In case you’re unfamiliar with the story, I’ll summarize it here: Mike Enslin is a supernatural writer. He visits “haunted” places, and writes “ten best” books about them. In reality, he doesn’t believe in any of it. He received an anonymous postcard from someone, telling him not to enter room 1408, at the Dolphin Hotel in New York. As any good writer would, Mike takes this as a challenge, and visits the hotel. After some arguing (and great on-screen chemistry and dialogue) with the hotel Manager Mr. Olin (played by a fantastic Samuel L. Jackson), Mike enters the room. He’s been told that no one has lasted an hour, and the last four people who stayed in the room, all died. All in all, a total of fifty-six people have died in 1408, twenty-two of natural causes. Mike doesn’t care, and proceeds to stay in the room, against everyone’s better judgement. Things start going crazy, Mike starts seeing things, people start appearing. More or less everything you’d expect to happen in an “evil room”.
The movie is a fantastic trip through someone’s mind. We go on this amazing journey with Cusack’s character, which is brilliantly brought to life by an extremely talented actor. We take the ups and downs with his character, we learn, we feel, we live, we laugh, we cry. Everything about this story, and its portrayal is amazing. Cusack delivers one of the best performances of his career in this role. I’ll admit, that’s saying a lot. Though I can honestly say I’ve seen almost every movie he’s been in. No other performance even comes close to this role.
While Samuel L.’s character is only on screen near the beginning of the film, he’s great as usual. His character delivers lines, and banters with Cusack’s character, exactly as I remember it from the short story. He comes across as protective, yet something makes you question his sincerity. You’re not sure if he’s a good guy, or a bad guy, so to speak.
The movie’s based on a Stephen King short story, so you know there’s obviously going to be some twisted things that happen. And there definitely are some things that make your head spin (quite literally at one point). Seeing what the screenplay writers captured from King’s short story, and trasferred to the screen is amazing. The director of photography captured the mood so perfectly. You feel like you’re trapped in 1408 with Enslin. You almost feel like you’re fighting with him, to get out. You want him to win. You want the good guy to come out on top. And most importantly, you want closure at the end. Is it a dream? Is it a hallucination? Is it real? You won’t know until the very end.
I think one of the most amazing things about this movie, is that it’s done almost in real time. Not the entire movie, no. When Mike enters 1408, he gets acquainted for a while before things start happening. At one point, the alarm clock goes off, and eventually shifts to 60:00, and begins counting down backwards, from sixty minutes, to zero. Just as Mr. Olin said no one has lasted more than an hour. The next sixty minutes appear to be in real time. While I wasn’t watching the clock on my Blackberry, the timing was about right. The last sixty minutes of the movie, is where all the “action” takes place, so to speak. The first half hour or so is mostly back story. We learn about the character, who he is, what he does, and why he’s going to 1408. While the character continues to develop throughout the “action hour”, we also learn more back story with cleverly placed flashbacks. We see a flashback appear on the television in the hotel, another appears in the living room as Mike appears to have walked back in time into the scene itself. While the hour continues to count down, we continue to learn more about Mike, his family, his past, and the emotions going on in his mind.
Is he dreaming? Is he really stuck in 1408? You’ll have to see the movie to find out. Is it worth the price of admission? Absolutely. Even if you’re not a Cusack fan, you’ll still enjoy his performance. In fact, I almost want to go see it again now, so I can enjoy it without the twelve year olds behind us going “oh my god” every thirty seconds. Parents, please stop letting your kids see inappropriate movies. I beg of you. All in all, 1408 is fantastic, and I highly recommend it to you, and anyone else you know.
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