NOT A GREAT LOVER OF MODERN HORROR FILMS, I found that the psychological
thriller 1408 pulled me in with its marketing and trailers. As it turned
out, I was not to be disappointed.
I have never been able to see the appeal of too much blood, gore and gratuitous
violence, but although 1408 a spine-tingler from the pen of horror
legend Stephen King throws up some pretty unpleasant stuff, it thrives
nicely on what you don't see.
Author and investigator of the paranormal, Mike Enslin (BAFTA-nominated John
Cusack: High Fidelity, Being John Malkovich) is a self-confessed
sceptic. His investigations prove to him that the owners of the haunted hotels
he visits are simply dreaming up the ghostly happenings for publicity and therefore
he believes that there is no such thing as the supernatural.
Mike was clearly once a gifted writer with a successful horror novel behind
him. But things have gone tragically wrong and he has lost his edge, turning
his hand to writing about haunted hotels. He receives a postcard telling him
of room 1408 at The Dolphin Hotel in New York
and he books into it, despite the repeated warnings of hotel manager Gerald
Olin (Samuel L Jackson: Pulp Fiction) both before and during his visit.
Deciding to put his personal belief about the existence of the super-natural
to the test by taking on a new project room 1408, where, says Olin, "in
95 years of the hotel's existence there have been 56 deaths" Mike soon
realises that there is such a thing as life after death. 1408, warns Olin, "it's
an evil room."
Ignoring all attempts to dissuade him, Enslin prepares to spend the night in
the notorious room 1408 a decision that will have terrifying consequences
from which there is no escape.
Tension and mystery override the sinister room from the moment he closes the
door "This is it?" scoffs Enslin. "You have to be kidding!" creating
a non-stop cycle of fear. The normally bland environment
of a hotel room becomes a psychological torture chamber in a meta-physical mind-bending
experience of claustrophobic terror. Clearly it is haunted by some sort of spirit
but it also uses the troubles you bring
in yourself from the past.
The stellar performances from Cusack and Jackson throughout this sterling thriller
grip the audience from start to finish and ultimately prove that you don't have
to see something to know that it exists.
Menace comes from the room itself, with the spooky events seemingly incidental.
It is creepily filmed and runs a whole gamut of emotions from despair to paranoia,
throwing up a lot of stuff for Enslin to digest. Cusack himself says: "Stephen
King, he's a master of storytelling he knows how to scare people intensely."
And he adds: "He's definitely channelling some spirits and demons."
1408 is the remarkable Swedish Director Mikael Hafströn's second film
in English. Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura explains the movie as
"…an examination of a man going inside his head." A lot of things Enslin experiences
could be from his worst nightmares.
* The thought-provoking film 1408 from Paramount Home Entertain-ment
is brought brilliantly to this Director's Cut DVD and is to be released on 26
Secrets of 1408: The Characters 8:00 | Secrets of 1408:
The Director 5:13 | Secrets of 1408: The Physical Effects
Secrets of 1408: The Production Design 5:20 | Secrets of
1408: Deleted Scenes 11:52.