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  Publicity Stills of "1408"
(Courtesy from GV)

Genre: Horror/Thriller
Director: Mikael Håfström
Cast: John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, Mary McCormack, Tony Shalhoub
RunTime: 1 hr 34 mins
Released By: GV
Rating: PG
Official Website: http://www.1408-themovie.com/

Opening Day: 30 August 2007



Renowned horror novelist Mike Enslin (Cusack) only believes what he can see with his own two eyes. After a string of bestsellers discrediting paranormal events in the most infamous haunted houses and graveyards around the world, he scoffs at the concept of an afterlife. Enslin's phantom-free run of long and lonely nights is about to change forever when he checks into suite 1408 of the notorious Dolphin Hotel for his latest project, "Ten Nights in Haunted Hotel Rooms." Defying the warnings of the hotel manager (Jackson), the author is the first person in years to stay in the reputedly haunted room. Another bestseller may be iminent, but like all Stephen King heroes, Enslin must go from skeptic to true believer – and ultimately survive the night..

Summarize Review:

1408 marks the return of genuine spookiness using Stephen King’s material. It has the atmospheric terror and an intense thrill that will keep you on the edge of your seat. The success of this movie had to do with the filmmaker’s ability to balance the fright element with just the right amount of eerie ambient soundtracks and effective interpretation of the source material. Another part would be John Cusack’s exceptional performance that makes it so entertaining to root for his character survival in this haunted room. However after three quarters of spooky adventure in Room 1408, this movie loses it’s grip on the scare factors and disappointingly closes the film with an unsatisfying conclusion for both the lead character and the fate of the room 1408.

Movie Review:

It’s been a long time since movie material that based on Stephen King’s writing had been that memorable spooky. Great stuff such as Pet Sematary, The Shining and Carrie are becoming faded memory until 1408 comes knocking back to remind us with the right kind of interpretation, Stephen King’s tales of horror are still one of the best.

The premise is simple enough, a disillusioned cynical guy, Mike Enslin ( John Cusack) who travels around supposedly haunted locations for his research to write on his mildly successful titles such as the “Top Ten Haunted Hotels”. Each location only affirms his skepticism in the supernatural until he got a mysterious invitation to stay in hotel room number 1408, a room where there are an unhealthy number of cases of death.

What’s so special in this blend of claustrophobic horror?

First of foremost, it doesn’t utilized any gruesome tactics that we been seeing from numerous torture porn nowadays. It’s genuinely scary from the right amount of ambient build up and unrevealing of the mysterious haunting. It might sound simple but trust me, getting just the right combination is anything but simple. Just look around and you are easily able to find heaps of horribly predictable horror movies lying around.

So what made 1408 stood out from the rest?

The first thing that stood out for this movie was it’s creepy soundtrack. It doesn’t burst your ear drums like some other “not so good” horror films attempts to scare their audience out of their wits (if we can’t scare them, we will force fear into them!!!). Instead, it slowly stealthily builds up the scare factor of the film without the audience even noticing it. The last time a scary movie’s soundtrack was so effective in scaring the audience without even them noticing it would be The Sixth Sense. (Read more about the soundtrack here)

The next thumb up for 1408 would be the story that it builds on. Instead of relying on childish unintelligent vengeance plots to drive this movie (like many other horror movies did), this one pack more punch that any one or two ghostly characters doing the haunting, are able to do. Using Samuel Jackson’s quote in this movie, “It's an evil fucking room”. It’s not one jilted lover haunting that cursed room but evil that is so unfathomable and omnipresence that keep it’s audience intrigue to the revelations of what’s going on in this room.

Another factor that keeps the audience interested in the survival of this tormented chap would be the performance of John Cusack. Since this movie is mainly about a guy discovering the terror of a hotel room that he is stuck in, the crux of this movie rides on John Cusack’s (almost) solo performance. And he dishes them out well! From skepticism, paranoia to heart wrenchingly sorrows, his performance was engaging enough to draw out audience’s emotions to root for his character to survive this seemly endless nightmare and feels the fear that he been subjected to.

However, the magic that was working for 1408 seemly took a different turn after three quarters into the movie. Perhaps it was the bombardment of intimidating scenarios that makes the audience realize the secret objective behind the evil room 1408. Once it’s intention for haunting Mike had already become apparent, this movie quickly loses the suspense that it had once gripped the audience.

It also doesn’t help that this movie got bogged down with a quick and disappointing ending. The movie had raised the bar of expectation that so much more is expected of both Mike’s character and the eventuality of the room. Instead, this movie eventually took the chirpy easy way out of heavily constructed labyrinth that it had spend most of the time building. The ending might leave viewers discussing what happened in the end but it definitely left nothing memorable for the end of Mike’s ordeal in 1408.

If it wasn’t for the lackluster last quarter of the movie, 1408 could easily be labeled as the scariest movie of this year. Although there are some shortcomings, 1408 still packs a exhilarating ride most of the way which is a rare occurrence in horror movie nowadays.

Movie Rating:

(For a one heck of a spooky paranormal trip, check into room 1408)

Review by Richard Lim Jr

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