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It’s almost become habit to expect a film based on a Stephen King short story to be…well, not good. 1408 gave me a few tingles but not enough to change my mind.
We meet Mike Enslin (John Cusack) a writer of mediocre travel logs that give insight to the most haunted spots in America. He seems to be on the last leg of a tour of hotels to review for his new book. He’s bored, he drinks, and he seems a very bitter disillusioned man. That all changes when he receives a cryptic postcard from The Dolphin Hotel in Manhattan that states only…”don’t enter 1408.” How can a man resist? It’s obviously sent by the staff of The Dolphin to get Enslin to come to the hotel, stay in 1408, and write a review all about his horrific stay.
Mike tells his agent (Tony Shaloub) he wants to end the book with a chapter about The Dolphin and mysterious room 1408, but keeps running into walls when trying to reserve the room for a night. Finally Mike goes to check in and has a creepy meeting with the hotel manager Gerald Olin (Samuel L. Jackson) who begs of Mr. Enslin not to stay in 1408, and that no one has ever lasted more than an hour. He even offers him a very fine bottle of scotch and evidence that more than 30 people have lost their lives in that room…a maid who blinded herself after 10 minuets locking in the bathroom alone, people cutting each other open, men and woman throwing themselves from the “14th” story window. None of this discourages Mike’s determination to stay in the room, he’s positive the Manager is putting on a show to force Mike’s hand at an extra creepy review. Mike gets the key and heads up alone to the 14th floor.
Everything starts out just fine. A mysterious chocolate on the pillow, a broken thermostat, a clock radio that croons “We’ve only just begun…” all on its own. I mean, I too can take a little Carpenters now and then, but, come on Mike, even the clock radio is telling you to get the hell out…take a friggin’ hint.
After about an hour of Mike sitting out the evening…the room really kicks into high gear, showing him ghosts, giving him a count down from an unplugged clock, creepy sounds…and then, visions. Yes my friends the room isn’t so much haunted as it is a separate evil entity that wants to swallow your soul and will stop at nothing to devour it whole.
1408 gave me a great start and a fantastic cast, however the film had no real staying power. By the end we’re bored and not only that…we’ve guessed the ending. Well we’ve guessed the fake ending. The movie uses one of my least favorite plot devices. The device being? The waking up and realizing it as all a dream, or a flight of fancy induced by a bump on the head. 1408 is a little more complicated than your regular wake up and realize none of its real shtick but still its there and makes me feel like a boob for falling for the movies initial scares when there’s no real pay-off.
If you’re a Cusack fan, give it a try. (Oh, and, has anyone else noticed that the older John Cusack gets the more he looks like Alan Rickman?) And I love both Samuel L. and Tony Shaloub so much that just a mere cameo by either warrant a viewing. So yeah, partake of 1408, just don’t close the door behind you…because if you do? It’ll probably just smack your ass on the way in…and out.
* Acting – 5
* Blood – 2
* Violence – 4
* Partying – 1
* Language – 4
* Humor – 3
* Predictability – 3
* Girls – 1
* Gore – 2
* Sexuality – 1
* Torture – 4
* Overall – 2
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