$2.50 Reviews: 1408 (2007)

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1408 is scary when it's not trying to do too much. At the beginning of the film, we meet Mike Enslin (John Cusack), an author who writes books about haunted places. He doesn't seem to take the job too seriously, at least, not until he receives a post card in the mail with a hotel name and a room number on it. "The Dolphin," it says. "1408." That's it. It intrigues him enough to begin researching the hotel and room, which leads him to believe that it's worth checking out.

'It's an earthquake! Cover your ears!'
'It's an earthquake! Cover your ears!'

He gets to the hotel, and meets with the manager, Gerald Olin (Samuel L. Jackson). Gerald attempts to convince and bribe Mike not to stay in that room, providing him with reason after reason why he should avoid it. Supposedly, 56 people have died in that room, either from "natural" methods, or suicide. This doesn't dissuade Mike from staying the night, instead increasing his skepticism.

After giving him the key, Gerald follows Mike into the elevator, still trying to get him to skip the room. The elevator is where Gerald stops, because that's as close as he supposedly comes to the room. Apart from two brief appearances for the rest of the picture (three in the director's cut) that's all we get from Jackson, which is unfortunate. Why Jackson was promoted as heavily as he was seems to be done solely for monetary purposes, because he's in the film maybe 10 minutes total.

Mike gets into his room, and takes his sweet time doing it. He turns the key slowly, pushes the door open without much pace, and then walks into the room cautiously. But then he notes that the room looks just fine, and that he might as well just sit down on the bed and chill out for the night. He lies down, and then the radio starts blasting. And then, when he goes to the window for a breath of fresh air, chocolates appear on the bed. And then the window slams on his hand. Following that, the water in the tap gets scalding hot. And then the room temperature is stuck above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The room, or someone else, is messing with him.

She's only kind of evil-looking.
She's only kind of evil-looking.

And then the clock begins to count backward from 60. It was mentioned earlier that nobody has lasted more than an hour in this room. Then things get even worse. Mike stars hallucinating -- or does he? He sees ghosts jumping out windows, and then someone with a knife is coming at him. He runs, and then the potential killer disappears. Was he there at all? He notices a camera in the vent system. Is that just another hallucination? Is someone watching him, laughing at what's going on with him? The camera is actually forgotten about apart from the first mention of it, but it still leaves that doubt in your mind.

All of this is interesting, and it keeps you watching. You're captivated by what's happening on-screen, and you want to find out what's really going on. Is the liquor that the hotel manager gave Mike spiked? What about the chocolate he ate? You don't know, but you want to find out. So does Mike, but he doesn't have all that much time for things like that. He just wants to find a way to escape from Room 1408.

1408 works for two reasons. The first is because is because this hotel room is built-up to such great extents, and then the film delivers on those promises. It isn't something that gives you a lot of time building tension, and then the pay off is unsatisfying. No, 1408 doesn't play around with that type of thing, it knows that you want thrills, and it fulfills that wish.

Oh, hello Mr. Glorified Cameo.
Oh, hello Mr. Glorified Cameo.

The second reason is because of the performance of John Cusack, who has to carry more or less the entire film while being surrounded by special effects and a room that seems to be caving in around him. He pulls it off, and it's only because of his ever-changing facial expressions, his dialogue to himself, and his body language. He manages to, almost single-handedly, keep us interested in his character, all while he descends into madness. Or does he? Again, you want to find out.

There's a fresh characteristic about 1408 in that there's very little blood, no amount of physical torture, but it still manages to be scary. The things that happen to the mind of our lead character are frightening, and there are certain revelations that occur later on in the film that are truly creepy. But then the film has a slightly cop-out ending which was only included to please test audiences. I suggest watching the director's cut, because it features a better, more fitting ending.

With that said, the final third of the film isn't quite as entertaining as the first two, because the film becomes less about suspense and more about pure thrills. This is less interesting, because the film is less subtle and more reliant on special effects. It never comes close to being boring or bad, but it's somewhat less intriguing than how the film opens and the first few things that start to go wrong in the hotel room.

1408 is a very good psychological thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat for the majority of its runtime. Cusack gives a great performance in the lead, and the film's plot allows us to watch him get put through a terrible situation. It becomes less interesting as it progresses, but it's still an intense film that will get your heart rate up, so I say it's worth a watch.


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I enjoyed the movie, but I liked the book a bit more.


no, im not being "one of those people" I just liked the book a bit better. still it was a great movie, and i enjoyed watching it. Much better then The Mist (though i did appreciate the dark tower reference in it).


actually, I kinda hope you review the mist, if you havent. your archive link says its broken when I click on it. Just to get a different opinion on it.

actually, I kinda hope you review the mist, if you havent. your archive link says its broken when I click on it. Just to get a different opinion on it.

I haven't. I wanted to for this month, but I couldn't find a copy that wasn't damaged too much, so I decided to just review other things. I will get to it though, as I want to see it.

As for the archive, I might have to remake the entire thing, which will be take quite a while. I've tried to get Kross to fix it a few times (he did fix it once but it broke again within a day for whatever reason), but he seems to be too busy. So I'll have to find all of the reviews individually (I know which ones they are, but finding them all might be difficult) and then remake the archive for a second time.

That is, unless Kross can find the time to fix it, even if it just stays fixed long enough for me to use the current one as a template.


Ah. Well, I wish you luck then. Not that I enjoyed the movie, and not that I know what you enjyo in movies, but like i said, itd be nice to get someone else's view that I take somewhat seriously in a review.

And oka, I figured you knew, just seemed like something I should say.

He manages to, almost single-handedly, keep us interesting in his character,

Sorry to be pedantic, but that's "interested".

Anyways, I quite enjoyed this film. I didn't find it as thrilling as most others, though. The only part that made me tense up physically was the "vent scene"... you know the one.

The movie was pretty good, actually. The ending was kind of a flop in my opinion, though. It was still an exciting, thrilling flick though, and I agree with your review in its entirety.

Considering the fact that most Stephen King movies tend to be... mediocre, I was impressed by the fact that this film was not only good, but was based only on a short story, rather than a full novel, which I assume made it harder to write.

But then, perhaps not. Perhaps short stories make for better movies. Either way, a good review.

Personally I found this film very enjoyable; I enjoyed John Cusack the most, especially his self-ramblings and mannerisms. However, I didn't enjoy the scenes where the room was, well "being destroyed", as much as I enjoyed the rest.

One scene I specifically remember was when he goes ape-shit on the fridge, for some reason that part had me laughing out loud.

Decided to watch the alternate ending, it did the job alright, might watch this film but never had a thing for horror.


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