The cynical and skeptical writer Mike Enslin writes books evaluating supernatural phenomena in hotels, graveyards and other haunted places, usually debunking the mystery. While writing his latest book, he travels from Los Angeles to New York to spend one night in the Dolphin Hotel's posessed room 1408, which is permanently unavailable for guests. The reluctant manager Mr. Gerald Olin objects to his request and offers an upgrade, expensive booze and finally relates the death of more than fifty guests over decades in the cursed room. However Mike threatens Mr. Olin, promising to sue the hotel, and is finally allowed to check into the room. Later in the night, he finds that guests of room 1408, once they have checked in, might never leave the room alive.Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
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". See more »
The hunting picture over the bed shows the horse reared up a couple of scenes before Mike sees the changes in all the paintings. See more »
-***Spoiler Alert - Alternate Ending*** The Director's Cut contains a more tragic ending. Mike Enslin sets fire to 1408 but is not rescued by the fire department. Instead, the last we see of him is when he's lying on his back in the burning room and we hear the words of his daughter "everybody dies". The camera zooms in on the numbers on the outside door, just as they melt from the heat. The next scene is at Mike's funeral where his coffin is lowered into the ground right next to his daughter's; just as the visions 1408 prophesied. Lily is there, being consoled by Mike's agent. As the procession ends, Lily walks to her car and is met by Gerald Olin who is carrying a box. Gerald introduces himself and gives his condolences. He says the box contains some of Mike's belongings still left in the room. He offers it to Lily while also trying to explain, with a sense of hope, that Mike's death of was not in vain and that because of his actions no one else will *ever be able to stay in room 1408. Lily, in too much grief to listen, cuts him off and refuses to accept the box. Gerald returns to his car and opens the box, which contains the nightgown that was sent through the fax machine as well and the burned tape recorder. Gerald plays it and hears the same dialog between Mike and his daughter heard at the end of the theatrical release. As he listens, he sees a young girl in his rear-view mirror waving in his direction. He turns around to look at her and catches a brief vision of Mike Enslin in his back seat, hideously burned. Gerald jumps but the vision quickly disappears. He looks back at the girl who has found her dad that was looking for her. Gerald catches his breath, starting his car and driving off. The final scene goes back to room 1408. We see a specter Mike Enslin staring out the window. The last shot is of him finishing his cigarette and walking towards the door just as he vanishes. See more »
like a very good feature-length episode of the Twilight Zone: surrealism and 'gotchas' at every corner
It's a hit or miss thing with Stephen King movies. Sometimes there's an exceptional effort by someone with a really strong vision (eg Kubrick, De Palma), but then there are also some big blunders (Dreamcatcher comes first to mind). And then there are those that sort of lie right in the middle, as decent, unpretentious but unremarkable efforts that chill or spill into your living room or movie theater. 1408 isn't a great thriller, but for King fans it'll likely be one of the most faithful- or at least feel faithful- efforts to date, and as such it's pretty creepy and a sure-fire "gotcha" machine. The premise is vintage King: a cynical writer (Cusack) who's books go over the paranormal (with the exception of a personal book about a father and son), and gets sent an anonymous postcard about the Dolphin hotel and room 1408. The manager warns him, fervently, to not stay in the room. But he's insistent to the point where there's no turning back. Slowly, but extremely surely, things start popping up in the room, out of Elsin's own consciousness, perhaps, and as well with the environment changing (fix that heater!), and even a pint-sized version of the hotel manager (who doesn't want to see Jackon ala Indian in the Cupboard?).
It all leads up to a few good twists and turns, but good being the important word here. Unlike the unsuccessful pot-boiler Identity, which also (regrettably) starred Cusack, this isn't contrived for the sake of it. The sudden images of a man with an ax swinging at Elson, the images of ghosts jumping out of the windows (one of them, which I found extraordinary, was shown with the same marks that come with an old movie print), isolation enhanced by a lack of windows to either side, and that bottle of booze. Spiked? Probably not- this is a thrill-ride predicated on lightning-fast imagery, but too fast (it isn't Saw thank goodness), and Elsin's past, notably the death of his daughter. It's usually a conceit that the filmmaker puts in to have the central character to have a dark past loaded with sadness, but here it works effectively in how gradually it all comes out, and how the fear/acceptance of death is something just as, if not more-so, terrifying than anything else the room has to offer.
As I said, not a great film, as sometimes it has that feel of an all-too well-oiled machine by director Mikael Håfström, edging on feeling like there's a checklist somewhere of things to happen in the room to Elsin. But, as mentioned, it doesn't come off as being too unsurprising. On the contrary, there is some originality to how the special effects team- via Cusack, going through many modes of acting like it's a powerhouse audition- bring out the best of what can be offered with a horror-show amusement park. It may be in part like a ghost house, but it's a fun and exciting one, and more watchable than any other PG-13 horror film I've seen in a while. 7.5/10
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