As creepfests go, 1408 is right up there with The Shining, also inspired by a Stephen King work and featuring a menacing hotel and the wobbly sanity of a writer lodging there. "It's an evil [bleep]-ing room!" intones Samuel L. Jackson, who plays the smooth but vaguely sinister manager of the Dolphin Hotel. John Cusack is stellar as Mike Enslin, a cynical Everyschlub who writes "occult travel guides," but believes in nothing, especially anything resembling an afterlife.
What happens in room 1408 of the Dolphin may change Enslin forever--if he survives the first hour. The thrills range from jumpy "gotcha" moments involving mirror images, to more traditional horror fare like bleeding walls, to truly diabolical touches like the recurrence of the Carpenters' "We've Only Just Begun." (Shudder.) The film does a nice job of weaving the operatic horror effects with the truly heart-breaking backstory of the death of Enslin's young daughter and his marriage--perhaps the only two things Enslin has ever believed in. And thankfully, there's just enough humor to leaven the intensity at key moments; Cusack is unparalleled when it comes to delivering a self-deprecating wisecrack, even as his life passes before his eyes. Get your adrenaline pumping and check into this room. Oh, and sorry, no refunds. A.T. Hurley
Customer Review: Catalogue of horror special effects
Our protagonist goes in an hotel that has an haunted room (1408, at least it wasn't 666). At first the only horrific thing he notices is the hideous wallpaper. Then all usual ingredients show up.
Let's see...electric appliances going on of their own, check!Unsettling music, check! Scary ghosts, Check! Eerie unhearthly lights, check! Homicidal madman with ax, check! Walls spilling blood, check! Dead children appearing, check! Ghastly pictures on walls running wild, check! Zombies, check!Desperate fugue in labyrinth, check!
But... wait a moment! Didn't we see it all in Kubrick's Shining?
That's right. We saw it, and it was a masterpiece, contrary to this confused and confusing drivel.
Customer Review: (3.5 STARS) Above Average Stephen King Adaptation with John Cusack's Strong Acting
The story is pretty simple. A man stays in a cursed room in a New York Hotel. The Dolphin Hotel's "Room 1408" is actually "an evil room," the hotel manager says, where more than 50 guests have committed suicide there (one drowned in his chicken soup). Ignoring the warning words of the manager, a jaded writer Mike Enslin checks in the room where he encounters a series of creepy events. Mike, who doesn't believe in these paranormal events, must endure the terrifying 60 minutes there.
Had it not been for John Cusack who plays the skeptic protagonist Mike, "1408" could have been an unwatchable mess. John Cusack and his strong acting successfully provide tension and occasional humor to the familiar story while the superb production designs and the photography of the dimly-lit interiors give the film an authentic feel. Samuel L. Jackson appears as the hotel manager Gerald Olin, but his role is just an extended cameo and the film is virtually about Cusack's hero and the room itself.
However, in spite of its gripping first half, the film gradually loses steam, not knowing where to go. Whatever the room does, the room does anyway, and there are not many options it can eventually take. The Carpenters song is a nice touch, but director Mikael Håfström takes too much time to lead us to the climax, and some of the tricks you will see are nothing new and sometimes look repetitious.
"1408," based on a Stephen King short, has familiar elements seen in numerous haunted house stories (in book or film) of the past, most notably, "The Shining" - both stories centering on isolated space, for example - but their approach is different. I enjoyed watching "1408" for the most part, but it is also true that I couldn't shake off the feeling that I saw it all elsewhere.