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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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).
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).
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.
1408 is the first Stephen King film adaptation with scenes shot in New York City to not include footage of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. Instead, a scenic shot of the skyline without the towers is featured when Mike is on the phone with his publisher and his lawyer.
The melting telephone used in the scene in which Mike is attempting to persuade the room to leave his wife alone was saved as a prop under the title "1408, Original Screen-Used SFX blue screen phone and handset". The telephone's melting effect was done by filming the components of the telephone with special blue markers attached so that the phone could have pieces of it removed through blue screen technology, after which CGI was used to make the phone appear as if it were falling apart.
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.
In the short Stephen King story 1408 upon which the film was based, Katie Enslin is not a prominent figure, nor is her death discussed in detail. Instead, the book mentions Mike being a chronic chain-smoker who had a brother who'd died of lung cancer. In the screenplay, Katie's name was originally to be "Gracie", but this was later changed. In the eventual film, Katie is implied to have terminal cancer, however her illness is never explicitly stated.
The deceased sewing machine salesman, Kevin O' Malley, was played by a British character actor named Paul Kasey. Kasey is known for his minor roles in science fiction and horror films, most notably the films Inkheart and 28 Days Later. For the filming of his role in 1408, he had to often wear makeup and use prosthetic pieces and fake glasses to build the appearance of his character, including a fake flap of rubber skin and fake blood with a needle-and-thread attached. He also had to have his photo taken in black-and-white numerous times at different angles for the film, and these photos were later used as props in the scene where Mike is going through Mr. Olin's file folder of deceased victims of room 1408. Later on in the frozen room scene, Mike is seen burning the photos of Kevin O' Malley to keep warm as frost crystals start to build up on the floor and ceiling.
The reoccurring photo Mike sees of a former guest in 1408 who committed suicide was created purely with computer effects. The actress who played the guest laid atop the bed and had her picture taken. Afterwards digital editing software was used to make it appear as if she had slit her wrists. The photos were then printed on traditional photo paper and added to the other prop photos in Mr. Olin's folder.
There is a reference to psycho (1960) Mike says at the book signing that ghosts are, "awful convenient for desperate hotels, when the interstate moves away". In psycho the Bates motel has very little business because the highway was moved.
In the film, Katie asks her mother, "why is the Bible purple?" Purple is a traditional Bible color for adapted children's Bibles, most notably the ESV Children's Bible which has been in print for years and continues to have new editions released. There is no specific reason why this color was chosen for children's Bibles.
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.
When Mike wakes up on the beach, he is wearing something that says "Psycho I" which might refer to the Alfred Hitchcock 1960 classic film. Also, he looks up and a plane flies overhead with an advertisement attached to its tail. The last 4 digits of the telephone number is 1408.