Greetings, ‘1408’ is a 2007 film directed by Mikael Håfstrsöm and based on the works of prolific horror author Stephen King. While King has many world renowned projects to his name, the same cannot be said for its Swedish director who has few titles that would be known to an audience outside of his native Sweden. Some of the more internationally appealing movies in his filmography include ‘Derailed’ starring Jennifer Anniston and ‘The Rite’ in which Anthony Hopkins was involved but these appear to have fared poorly with audiences. ‘1408’ features notable actors and actresses including John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, Mary McCormack and Tony Shalhoub among its cast. The music was composed by Gabriel Yared who had also contributed to well-known films such as ‘The English Patient’, ‘The Talented Mr Ripley’ and ‘Amelia’.
The plot follows Mike Enslin, a cynical and jaded author, as he travels across America in search of haunted locations with the intention of debunking their supernatural reputations. After spending the night in one such inn, Mike leaves without experiencing any strange phenomenon and becomes increasingly self-assured that the claims are only made by the owners to draw in visitors. Shortly after his underwhelming stay, he is in California on a book tour to promote his new book. The novel details supposed hauntings but Mike appears to be motivated more by financial need rather than being inspired to write it by his own genuine passion. The trip isn’t all business as he decides to surf the Californian waves but he nearly drowns after encountering a large tidal wave and has to be saved by onlookers. Not being put off by a near death experience, Mike is back to work not long after he is discharged from hospital and his interest is piqued after he receives an anonymous postcard. The postcard is of ‘The Dolphin Hotel’ in New York City and the mysterious note advises him to simply not enter room 1408.
Mike does not heed the warning and has taken it as a challenge instead. As such, he flies out to New York and after trying to book in with reception Mike meets with the hotel manager, Gerald Olin, when it is clear he intends to stay in the cursed room. Gerald tries numerous times to dissuade Mike by informing him of the room’s grotesque history of mutilations, murders and suicides as well as promising him a place in the pent suite instead as well as an $800 bottle of cognac should he abandon his foolish endeavour. Mike, believing it is all a bogus scare tactic to drum up a tense atmosphere, eventually gets his way through threat of legal action and enters the sinister room. Upon entering the room, it appears to be a very mundane location and there are a few incidents early on that he brushes off as being orchestrated by Gerald including a radio that refuses to stay turned off. It isn’t long before Mike begins to experience things that defy explanation and his theory of it all being his overactive imagination spurred on by Gerald’s storytelling is put to the test.
Comparisons to ‘The Shining’ are undoubtedly going to be made considering they share the same subject matter and are written by the same author. Unsurprisingly, the film is certainly not on the same level as Kubrick’s 1980 adaptation in my opinion although it does have its own charms. I really liked the set up in ‘1408’, especially around Mike’s background in debunking the paranormal, and there is an impressive tension when Mike finally enters the evil room thanks to Gerald’s gruesome warnings. Once he is inside the room however, it loses its sinister edge somewhat as the audience is no longer relying on their imagination to visualize the horrors that unfolded in it but are watching CGI ghosts torment the protagonist. Despite all of this, I still enjoyed the movie and would definitely like to check out the story that it is based on.
Quote of the Day
Whoa, whoa. You better watch what you say about my car. She's really sensitive.