1408 (2007)

PG-13   |    |  Drama, Horror


1408 (2007) Poster

A man who specializes in debunking paranormal occurrences checks into the fabled room 1408 in the Dolphin Hotel. Soon after settling in, he confronts genuine terror.

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6.8/10
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  • Matt Greenberg at an event for 1408 (2007)
  • John Cusack and Jasmine Jessica Anthony in 1408 (2007)
  • Mikael Håfström at an event for 1408 (2007)
  • Mikael Håfström at an event for 1408 (2007)
  • John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson in 1408 (2007)
  • Ashley Benson at an event for 1408 (2007)

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Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews


22 June 2007 | keiichi73
8
| Surprisingly effective
While doing some research before reviewing 1408, I was shocked to discover that this was the first time since 2004's Riding the Bullet that a film based on a Stephen King story had gotten the big screen treatment. 1408 marks somewhat of a comeback to the silver screen for the author after mainly working with television the past couple years. Director Mikael Hafstrom has created the most atmospheric and downright tense thriller I can think of so far this year. The premise may be thin, and yeah, it doesn't always make a lot of sense. But, is it ever effective.

Mike Enslin (John Cusack) used to be a promising author until the untimely death of his young daughter, Katie (Jasmine Jessica Anthony). He now spends his time writing trashy paranormal novels about the world's most haunted areas. He travels the world, doing research by staying overnight at places that are supposed to be haunted, gets some colorful background info that he can use for material, and then moves on to his next job. One day, Mike receives a postcard informing him of an old hotel in New York City called the Dolphin Hotel, which is supposed to have a room that has quite the history. Doing some private research, he learns that the Dolphin has had a long and tragic history of deaths, all of them surrounding the guests that have stayed in Room 1408. Mike books the room, despite the warnings of the hotel manager, Gerald Olin (Samuel L.Jackson). Entering the room, nothing seems ominous at first. But then, the room itself begins to take on a life of its own, and begins tormenting Mike with various ghostly apparitions, mind tricks, and even displaying his own painful past before him in various ways.

1408 is the second thriller set around a hotel released in less than two months (the other being April's Vacancy), and is by far the superior film. The film is actually quite subtle in its way of creeping us out and disturbing us, which is a nice change of pace from the recent Hostel: Part II. Rather than bombard the audience with ghostly special effects and gore, the movie gets under your skin and goes for a much more psychological approach. The screenplay by Matt Greenberg, Scott Alexander, and Larry Karaszewski, wisely does not even attempt to explain Room 1408. It's just a very evil presence that can somehow look deep within troubled souls, and torture them to death with their own personal demons. In the wrong hands, this material could have been laughable. Even though the movie frequently flies into the realm of the unbelievable, it manages to somehow stay grounded.

A lot of this has to do with the fact that the film never loses its way, and become an excuse to throw as many special effects and jump scares into the movie as it possibly can. The human element of Mike Enslin is always at the center of the story itself, and its scares. The movie is built around the fact that he is forced to face his personal demons the longer he stays in his room, as well as try to keep his mind in check as various nightmarish hallucinations are paraded before him. It's much more effective than the usual characters that have passed as villains in recent paranormal films (usually gray-skinned people with hair over their faces), and it never once becomes heavy-handed or preachy. This is also a tricky balance to pull off. When the room started showing him flashbacks of Mike's own past, I grew nervous, thinking that the movie was going to start hitting us over the head with morales. Fortunately, it never once loses its sense of the eerie, and remains appropriately unsettling throughout.

At the center of the movie is John Cusack, who literally has to carry the movie almost by himself. This is essentially a one-man show for most of its running time, with fleeting apparitions being his main companions. Cusack has long been a favorite of mine, and this is one of his stronger recent roles. He not only has to carry almost the entire film on his own, but he also has to convincingly act like he is slowly going insane without hamming it up, or losing his personality. Any actor can tell you that madness is a difficult thing to depict. He strikes a very good balance, and remains believable throughout. Samuel L. Jackson is also notable in his small, but no less important, role as the manager who tries to talk Mike out of his decision to stay in the room. And then, of course, there is Room 1408, which is a character itself. The way it is constantly changing itself, right down to the paintings on the wall, creates an effectively creepy atmosphere that is continuously bizarre, but never so much so that we lose our sense to believe.

1408 succeeds where so many other films have failed in that it is not about apparitions jumping out at the actors or lurking in dark shadows. It digs much deeper for its horror than simple jolt thrills, and becomes an effectively thrilling horror film. It could be argued that the whole thing loses some weight when we apply logic to the story. But seriously, who wants to apply logic to a movie about an evil hotel room that can read your mind? When all is said and done, 1408 is a reminder of what horror can do. It can do so much more than thrill us. It can also make us laugh and leave us captivated. Perhaps what's more surprising than the fact that the movie can accomplish all that is that so few other horror films can.

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Due to alleged paranormal activity, the Emily Morgan Hotel in San Antonio, Texas has sealed one of their rooms, 1408.


Quotes

Mike Enslin: Hi. Mike Enslin. Checking in.


Goofs

When Mike puts the Bible down on the table, the title "Holy Bible" is backwards, indicating that the image was "flipped".


Alternate Versions

-***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.


Soundtracks

At Midnight
Written by Alan Blackman
Courtesy of Selectracks Music Services

Storyline

Plot Summary


Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Genres

Drama | Horror

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