1408 (2007)

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Movie Review written by: Born Movie Reviews
RT Critics Rating: 7.8/10

Born Movie Reviews' Rating: 8/10

1408 (2007) - Mikael Håfström

The Dolphin Hotel invites you to stay in any of its stunning rooms. Except one.

Based on the 1999 short story of the same name by Stephen King, 1408 follows Mike Enslin (John Cusack), a skeptical author who writes books in the supernatural genre. Through an anonymous postcard by The Dolphin Hotel that warns him of the room 1408, Enslin forces the hotel to allow him to book a stay in the supposedly haunted room, even under discouragement and bribes by the hotel manager (Samuel L. Jackson). Of course, strange things start to happen in the room.

This is an old-fashioned horror film, where it works in its thrills without spraying blood and guts at the audience. Instead, 1408 relies on psychological tension. Surprisingly enough, the movie takes claustrophobia to a whole new level, because the room is not just haunted. It is alive. It may not be the scariest movie ever, but 1408 offers enough chills and thrills to keep us intrigued for its running time. The story is very straightforward here, and it comes forth as being stereotypically viewed as "too simple." However, this Steven King adaptation is fully capable of taking the most blunt narrative and turning it into the most unnerving roller coaster ride, driven by Cusack's performance.

As mentioned before in many previous reviews, horror movies need to be driven by powerhouse performances. Here, the reins are all given to John Cusack, because here he proves to us that not only can he be as versatile as the character he is portraying, but also that he is one of the most underrated actors in the movie industry. If the chills are moved aside, 1408 is sometimes humorous, all based upon the skeptic personality of the writer Cusack is portraying. He adds diversity to the film, with a performance that is both passionate and intense. To agree with Hollywood Reporter, the talented star is able to "summon deep wellsprings of personal grief along with breezy humor and naked animal terror. [Truly it is] a tour de force performance."

Underneath all the critical praise, 1408 received the highest criticism on its theatrical ending, described as "a false ending that doesn't quite work" and "instantly forgettable." I respectably and strongly disagree. Without spoiling the ending, I found the ending of 1408 to be one of the greatest horror movie endings in recent years. It is the most logical way to end such a story, and it leaves the greatest impact. In fact, as years pass, the ending is the only scene I remember the most vividly. It is utterly creepy and defines the power of Stephen King as well as Håfström's direction.

In conclusion, 1408 is one of the best horror movies of the 2000s decade. It arrives at a time where the horror genre has been inflicted with violent pictures and gory festivals. A smart move made by Hollywood, 1408 goes back to the horror genre's roots, knowing that all you need to scare the audience is a tense atmosphere, eerie visuals, and a one-man show performance. Speaking of visuals, there is barely any computer generated imagery here -- only practical effects are used, and that little move adds a whole dimension of reality to the terror. To quote the Washington Post: "Listen up, all you Hostel's, Saw's and other purveyors of bloody terror. Lay down your whips, chainsaws and paring knives to watch a truly scary movie."


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