BSAlert Movie Review: 1408

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[Movie Reviews]
They say nobody can spend a night in room 1408 of the Dolphin Hotel without killing themselves. I haven't stayed in room 1408, but I felt like killing myself a few times while watching this movie...

In this all-too-typical Hollywood production, John Cusack plays Mike Enslin, a writer (didn't see that coming did we?) who is disillusioned with life due to the loss of his daughter (another unique plot device) which ultimately breaks up his marriage (surprise!). With this unique setup, you know we're in uncharted territory. Mr. Enslin's schtick is writing reviews of haunted hotels, and he gets an anonymous postcard that says, "Don't stay in room 1408", so of course, since he doesn't believe in this stuff, he must. Before you ask whether or not we ever find out who sent the postcard, be prepared... that unanswered question is the least of your worries... Muhahahahahahaa.

Oh wait, there's Samuel L. Jackson in the supporting role of the manager of the hotel. If there's any reason to see this movie it's to watch the non-typecast, career-broadening, Oscar-capable performance of the illustrious Mr. Jackson. He really shows his versatility on screen in 1408.

Who am I kidding? This is a prototypical Samuel L. Jackson part. At this point in his career, acting gigs like this are probably secured by his agent using the same process one would order a McDonald's extra value meal. This was a number three with a diet Coke: Slightly smug authority figure who makes a noble but futile attempt to share his wisdom with the main character, who ignores it and has to learn the hard way. One day of filming, total comes to $80,000, please drive up to the second window.

At this point in the review, I'd explain a little more about the plot. The problem is, there really isn't much of a plot except the idea that Mr. ghost writer stays in the room and weird stuff happens. The only other sub-plot is one blatantly ripped off from a dozen other movies, not the least of which is "Minority Report" where Enslin tries to come to terms with his grief over his daughter's death. The hotel room may have a portal to the fourth dimension, but the plot is strictly one-dimensional. Things seem normal at first. For example, in the beginning I was slightly hopeful the movie would be interesting and cohesive. Little did I know the horror that was in store for me. The first thing that changed is the plot basically disappeared and we were treated to a completely chaotic thrill ride of one weird scene after another, from noises to ghosts, to blood, to malfunctioning utility services, dream sequences, things blowing up, and finally fire. Oh wait, there was also surfing and visiting the post office. Why? Who the hell knows. It was literally exhausting. Not because I was afraid, but because I felt that trying to make any sense of the movie and the direction it was taking was more painful than what the main character was going through.

There are approximately three semi-interesting gimmicks in the movie, and halfway into the show, you're so desperate for something interesting you pounce on them with approval not unlike how you'd savor potted meat after spending a month wandering the desert. All three of the gags: the fire escape map, the clock radio, and the daughter-image, get totally over played and by the end of the movie they no longer work, but that still doesn't stop the writers from throwing in one last little girl's voice going, "I love you Daddy". And ironically, like a starved hound who's been locked in a cage for a week, some inevitably eat it up.

While watching the movie I found myself asking if anyone actually read the script in one sitting? Seriously. The movie often ground to a halt, and like a decrepit amusement ride, jerked back into momentum only to die again later, only to jerk you again into some completely unrelated imagery. I imagined the director reading part of the script, then smoking a huge joint, gorging on a case of doritos, falling asleep, and then reading another segment the next day, somehow thinking that in his THC-induced haze, any of the scenes flowed into each other. They don't.

In fairness, there are some bright spots in the movie, but they are singularly interesting unto themselves: Cusack's attack on the mini-bar, the well-timed crooning of Karen Carpenter and the comic relief of the front desk operator, but it's just not enough.

Let me be blunt. If you don't give a damn about originality or things making that much sense, and you just want loud noises followed by quiet, followed by loud noises, accompanied by a potpourri of nonsensical visual effects, you'll be one of those people who thought this movie was good. You wouldn't be me.

Rating: 4/10


Did you read the short story?
Posted by Fireshaper on 2007-06-26 11:01:15
This story was Stephen King's version of the "typical" haunted hotel room story, intended only to be part of King's "On Writing" book about how he writes up drafts. The plot in the short story was one-dimensional, leaving out the daughter thing, in the fact that it was just about an author who wants to find that one "haunted" place that is truly haunted so that he can write about it to make money off of it. I know that the movie is somewhat different than the short story (not having watched it myself though) but I don't doubt the main storyline has been changed and can see through your post that much of what you dislike is what happens in the story itself.
Posted by horrorbuff on 2012-11-14 05:41:11
wow u r like an ass. not trying to be mean. I am such a horror buff and i loved 1408. I was a liyyle diapointed that certain aspects of the story was changed in the movie from the story. However,what movies is not changed some from books. That is why almost always the books are better then the movies. King ment it to be a short story so some of details that movie addded was not in book. Steven KIng is my favorite Author and to be honest this was a mind bending thriller that does keep you n your toes. One of the best horroe flicks that they had came out with in a while. Everyone is entitled to tjeir own opinion and since you gave yours I am giving mine i would rate it an 8/10.


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