Tuesday, October 16, 2007

DVD: 1408

• 1408 fares better than par for a King adaptation.

Genre: Horror
Director: Mikael Hafstrom
DVD released: Oct. 2, 2007
Cast: John Cusak, Samuel L. Jackson, Mary McCormack, Jasmine Jessica Anthony
Verdict: &&&

With a haunted hotel room, a writer protagonist and the idea of an evil room or dwelling, 1408 is very much a case of Stephen King deja vu. Based on a tale from the latter-day short story collection Everything's Eventual, this better-than-average horror flick finds a jaded writer, Mike Enslin (John Cusak), compiling a travelogue of quaint haunted inns. He's seen every mom and pop bed and breakfast with a half-baked ghost story to attract attention when he receives a postcard tipping him to the Dolphin, a stylish New York hotel, and its room 1408 (the numbers add up to … 13). The movie is most effective here, building palpable anticipation as hotel manager Gerald Olin (Samuel L. Jackson, almost redeeming himself for his awful performance in The Phantom Menace) attempts to change Enslin's mind, telling him of the room occupants' horrible deaths and the many natural deaths that never made the press. But there's no stopping Enslin, who sets out to be the first person in modern times to last more than an hour in the room. As with many modern horror films, 1408 lacks subtlety; although it is psychological horror to a great extent, the effects spectacle soon takes over. The room knows and exploits Enslin's weak spot — the hotel is in New York, where he once lived with his estranged wife and daughter, who died after a difficult illness — and uses it to wear him down. There are some clever moments throughout 1408 — I loved the recurring use of the song "We've Only Just Begun" by The Carpenters — but the anticipation built by the opening scenes gradually checks out as Enslin checks further and further into the mind game of 1408. // DVD notes // Feel free to skip the single-disc edition's pair of alternate endings and commercial-like featurettes.

No comments: