on a story by suspense master Stephen King, 1408 is a gripping
"roller-coaster of a head trip" (Owen Gleiberman,
Entertainment Weekly) that will have you on the edge of your
seat. John Cusack delivers "a tour de force performance"
(Stephen Farber, Hollywood Reporter) as a skeptical writer investigating
paranormal events. When he insists on staying in the reportedly
haunted room 1408 at the Dolphin Hotel against the grave warning
of the hotel manager (Samuel L. Jackson), he discovers the room's
deadly secret - an evil so powerful, no one has ever survived
an hour within its walls.
It’s puzzling why Hollywood is churning out
endless amount of horror-slasher rather than chilling, spooky
horror thrillers that will knock your socks off. Remember
"Poltergeist" and "The Shining"?
last summer with a culmination box-office of US$130 million,
Dimension’s "1408" was a surprise hit for
a horror movie that doesn’t feature top stars nor is
it a spin-off from a successful franchise other than it was
based on a Stephen King’s short story.
tells the story of Mike Enslin (John Cusack), a supernatural
writer who checked into a haunted hotel room on the purpose
of researching for the closing chapter of his new book only
to find out that he can never leave the room alive. Instead
of relying on excessive usage of jump-scare tactics and violence,
Mikael Håfström opted the old-fashioned way of
telling the story. Classics liked "The Shining"
bide its time to reveal the terror, "1408" too plod
along unhurriedly and you realized 25 minutes has gone by
before Mike actually enters room 1408. The tension starts
to build up when Cusack’s character is being confined
in the room. The fun part is knowing the ghouls and ghosts
will take its cue but question is when. This I guess Håfström
and Cusack did a remarkable job, the former created a huge
air of suspense and the latter puts in a convincing performance
as the tortured, atheist Mike Enslin.
that, "1408" starts to lose her footing by the third
quarter. King’s original short story was tense and concise
but obviously lacks enough material to sustain a feature film
to be honest. There’s constant flashback about Mike’s
late daughter, his relationship with his estranged wife and
dad. Without divulging much detail, the movie version thrives
hard to build on the sinister tone but ends up as a case of
showing too much and tells too little. Samuel L. Jackson who
portrayed the Dolphin hotel’s manager turns in a memorable
performance and mouth a certain warning that will send shivers
down your spine even though he has less than 15 minutes of
owes part of its success to an old-school approach to the
material, with its creepy soundtrack and claustrophobic cinematography,
it breathes fresh air to the horror genre which otherwise
dominated by the usual dismembered limbs and high body count.
If not, for the convenient closure that resembles some cheap
TV series, this might turns out to be another King's horror
classic on your video shelf.
SPECIAL FEATURES :
This DVD edition only comes with "The Mist"
trailer presented in ridiculously VCD-like quality.
video transfer is reasonably passable but the audio is somewhat
questionable. Can't help to hear that the ambient and background
sound effects overlapped the dialogue at times despite adjusting
the volume knob a couple of times. Disappointing.
by Linus Tee