In its standard edition, the DVD runtime is exactly 104 minutes and 8 seconds, referring directly to the movie's title. This also makes the DVD stop playing at precisely 1:44:08, again referring to the title.
In the movie, John Cusack's character says to his recorder, "Hotel rooms are just naturally creepy places, don't you think? I mean, how many people have slept in that bed before you? How many of them were sick? How many were losing their minds?" Stephen King wrote this in his explanatory note of 1408 in his compilation book of short stories.
The story this film was based on, was almost never written. Stephen King originally created the first few pages of "1408" for his non-fiction book, "On Writing," as an example of how to revise a first draft. The story, however, intrigued him and he wound up not only finishing a complete draft, but he adapted it for an audio-book compilation of short stories.
While addressing his audience at the book signing, Mike says, "Stay scared." This is a phrase traditionally used by director George A. Romero, a friend of Stephen King's. Romero has said this at numerous conventions and often uses it as part of his signature.
There are many references to the number "13" throughout the movie. The room is numbered "1408;" add each number together and it equals 13 (1+4+0+8=13). The room is on the 14th floor, and the Hotel skips the 13th floor, so the room is technically on the 13th floor. The room's key lock also has "6214" etched into it, which adds up to 13 (6+2+1+4=13). And the first death was in the year 1912, which adds to 13 (1+9+1+2=13). Even the month and year of the movie's release date, June 2007, sums up to 13 (6/07; 6+7=13). The exact date the film was released in the United States was on June 22, 2007.
The initial story inspiration for 1408 came from a collection of real-life news stories about parapsychologist Christopher Chacon's investigation of a notoriously haunted room at the famous Hotel Del Coronado in Coronado, California, as well as another undisclosed hotel on the East Coast.
Towards the beginning of his stay in room 1408, Mike mentions that "some smart-ass" once wrote about the "banality of evil." The "smart-ass" in question is German political theorist and intellectual Hannah Arendt, who wrote about the "banality of evil" in her essay "Eichmann in Jerusalem."
As Enslin is walking to Room 1408, reading the files Olin gave him, he comes across a page that says, "My brother was eaten by wolves on the Connecticut Turnpike." This is a reference to Stephen King's short story. As Enslin loses his mind in the room, that is the last intelligible thing he says to his tape recorder. His brother actually died of lung cancer.
Enslin, while looking at the book of the murders, unknowingly circles the 14th floor and ends up back at the elevator he got off. The classical music that is playing in the elevator was featured in the beginning of "Father's Day," the first segment which was part of the anthology collection Creepshow (1982). The screenplay for that film was written by Stephen King, and the segment after "Father's Day" featured, as the lead, none other than Stephen King himself.
Additional reference to the number "13": when talking on the phone towards the end of the movie, two of the voices identify themselves as previous "victims" of Room 1408; "This is Number 5..." and "this is Number 8....", both of which add up to 13.
Mike Enslin has a Chicago White Sox hat; Chicago is John Cusack's home town. Also, in a previous film, Eight Men Out (1988), Cusack portrayed White Sox third-baseman George "Buck" Weaver. Cusack himself is both a devoted Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox fan, saying so in numerous interviews.
The scene in which Mike climbs across the ledge as a means of escape could be a reference to another of Stephen King's short stories, "The Ledge" (1978), in which a man must circumnavigate a high ledge in order to win a "bet."
Mike opens the room's Bible at random to Chapter 11 of Samuel 2; "11" and "2" added together equal "13." (Not to mention, the book sharing its name with Samuel L. Jackson.) Also, though it may be pure coincidence, the 13th verse of this same chapter is a close analogy to Mr. Olin's dealings with Mike: "At David's invitation, he [Uriah] ate and drank with him, and David made him drunk. But in the evening Uriah went out to sleep on his mat among his master's servants; he did not go home." (New International Version.) This is part of the famous story of how King David sent Uriah out to die in battle so that he could marry Uriah's wife Bathsheeba. Olin's last line in the film implies a similar duplicity.
When we see Mike (John Cusack) in his apartment in California writing about his experience at the Dolphin, the camera pans across his desk showing a figurine of Edgar Allan Poe. John Cusack played Poe in The Raven (2012).
Stephen King, who wrote the short story upon which this film is based, stated that 1408 was his version of the classic short story 'The Red Room' by H.G. Wells (a similar story about a paranormal hotel room).
The screenplay for 1408 originally had more lines and detail than the end result film. For example, Kevin O' Malley begs Mike to "fix it" (sew his throat back together) while chasing through the air duct, and the 1950's fat woman who jumped out the hotel window not only cries, but also says "May Jesus forgive me... and fuck you, Henry Smith!" Mike also tries to hug his elderly father in the hotel bathroom, but discovers that he is actually hugging the hotel toilet when he opens his eyes. Katie Enslin's name in the screenplay is written as "Gracie Enslin" instead. The screenplay was likely altered before the actual filming of 1408 took place.
Paul Kasey, who played the role of the deceased sewing machine salesman Kevin O'Malley, had to wear layers of prosthetic latex face pieces underneath grayish-green coloured face makeup. This took at least two hours to put on, plus the fake jaw piece he had to wear which was meant to detach when Mike (John Cusack) kicked him in the face. Kasey's makeup artist also uploaded a Kevin O'Malley makeup tutorial to the video sharing website YouTube under the title "Room 1408: Official Film Makeup Tutorial (Paul Kasey/Kevin O'Malley)".
While staying the night in room 1408, Mike goes through denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and acceptance in that order - all of which are the five stages of grief, in that order. 1408 has many grief themes, especially revolving around Mike's daughter, and him trying to run away from his own grieving process by traveling, abandoning Lily, and writing books that debunk the supernatural faith of his readers.
In other coincidences involving the number "1408," one day on Mercury lasts about 1,408 hours, and if you use 1408 as a Bible reference, you would get Genesis 4: 08, the verse where Cain kills his brother Abel. The Bible verse in the movie talks about King David sending Uriah to certain death.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
The bottle that Gerald Olin offers Mike Enslin is named "Les Cinquant Sept Décès." In French, it literally means "The Fifty-Seven Deaths." And just afterwards, we learn that in Room 1408, there were only 56 deaths. With that, it is assumed that Mike's fate was "written."
There are multiple endings for this film with the version, which has Mike fading from Room 1408 following Katie, being the one most seen, as it is the default on most DVD and digital versions. In other alternate endings, Mike is rescued from the flames, reconnects with Lily, and captures his conversation he had with Katie on his recorder. In one version, Lily can hear the conversation as well, and in another she cannot.
The axe, the fireman uses to break down the hotel door at the end of the movie, is the same axe that Jack Nicholson used in The Shining (1980) (both movies were also shot at the same studio, Elstree, in London).
When the windows are first bricked in, Mike notices that in one place the bricks say "Burn me alive." Later, as the post office is being torn down, these bricks are shown again, indicating clearly that Mike is being returned to the room. He later follows that advice and burns down the room.
Not long after Mike Enslin enters 1408, he tells his tape recorder, "Where is the bone-chilling horror? Show me the rivers of blood." He is foreshadowing what is to come as the room later becomes extremely cold, and the walls have blood trickling down them.
The "Claw Hammer Maniac" who attacks Enslin, is played by Benny Urquidez. Benny also starred with John Cusack in Grosse Pointe Blank (1997) as Felix La PuBelle...who also attacks Cusack's character in that film.