Friday, June 29, 2007

1408: Enter if you DARE!

What if you experienced a personal tragedy that left you with no beliefs to cling to?

What if you so desperately needed to experience a paranormal phenomenon - just to see for yourself that there is indeed something more out there?

That's exactly where writer Mike Enslin (John Cusack) finds himself after a heartbreaking occurrence sends his own life and career into a downward spiral of drunken despair. Choked by an unnatural obsession with the afterlife, Enslin has abandoned his serious literary pursuits in favor of writing banal travel books about "haunted" tourist attractions.

But one day, Mike Enslin receives a postcard warning him not to stay in Room 1408 of New York's Dolphin Hotel. Of course, he simply cannot resist. After all, this may be the answer to the prayers he thought no higher being was around to hear.

After repeated warnings from the hotel's manager (Samuel L. Jackson), Enslin finally gets the room - and an 800 dollar bottle of scotch.

Then, all hell - as they say - breaks loose...

That's the basic setup for 1408, and it's quite the eerie ride. "Stay Scared" is a motto Enslin often repeats to his readers, and this movie certainly does its best to ensure the same reaction from viewers.

John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson are both promoted as the stars of the film, but don't be fooled by the double billing. Cusack is most definitely the main character. Samuel L. Jackson actually only has a small (but nonetheless very effective) part. Catherine McCormack also appears in a minor role, and Tony Shalhoub (from Monk) shows up in what turns out to be a glorified cameo at best.

In fact, there are many scenes where Cusack is essentially acting by himself. He's a true marvel to watch at work. As a result, the hotel room ends up becoming a "character" in its own right.

1408 reminded me of a mix between Silent Hill (both the movie and the games) and Dark Water (that lame Jennifer Connelly horror flick), but this is thankfully much better than either of those.

This film adaptation of Stephen King's short story (from Everything's Eventual) is nothing short of weird. If you like your horror with a little more intelligence and bite to it, don't be afraid to take the room key and unlock the mysteries of 1408.

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