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1408 is a horror film based on the Stephen King short story of the same name directed by Swedishmarker director Mikael Håfström, who earlier had directed the horror film Drowning Ghost. The cast includes John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, and Mary McCormack. The film was released in the U.S. on June 22, 2007, although July 13 (a Friday the 13th) is mentioned as the release date in the trailer posted on the website.

The film follows Mike Enslin (Cusack), an author who specializes in the horror genre. Enslin's career is essentially based on investigating allegedly haunted houses, although his repeatedly unfruitful studies have left him disillusioned and pessimistic. Through an anonymous recommendation (via postcard), Enslin eventually learns of the Dolphin Hotel in New York Citymarker, which houses the infamous "Room 1408". Interested yet skeptical, Enslin decides to spend one night in the hotel although manager Olin (Jackson) warns him strongly against it. Enslin encounters a series of bizarre experiences in the room.

Synopsis

Mike Enslin is a skeptic and author who debunks supernatural occurrences after the untimely death of his daughter Katie. After his latest successful book, he receives an anonymous postcard of the Dolphin Hotel in New York Citymarker bearing the message "don't enter 1408." Viewing this as a challenge, Enslin attempts to book a reservation for room 1408, but the hotel will not rent him the room. However, after being informed by Enslin's agent Sam Farrell that the Fair Housing Act requires hotels to rent unoccupied rooms, the Dolphin reluctantly reserves room 1408 for Enslin.

Arriving at the Dolphin, Enslin is pulled aside by the hotel's manager Gerald Olin, who warns him that no one has lasted more than an hour in 1408. Olin offers Enslin an upgrade to the penthouse suite, access to documents regarding the deaths in 1408, and an $800 bottle of cognac if Enslin would abandon his plan to stay at 1408. Enslin accepts the documents and the cognac but insists on staying in the room, frustrating Olin. The manager gives him the key, warning him that "It's an evil room."

Once inside the room, Enslin pulls out his Mini Cassette recorder and dictates on the unremarkability of room 1408. As he examines the room, the radio suddenly starts blaring We've Only Just Begun by The Carpenters, initially thinking it is just a gag cooked up by Olin. Later, Enslin is startled again as the clock radio begins to play the same song. When he turns the clock off the display flickers and changes to read "60:00", then starts counting down from 60 minutes. Suddenly, Enslin is unable to hear anything, apart from a tinnitus-like ringing in his ears, and opens the window to check his hearing; the window slams down, cutting a large gash in the top of his hand. He rushes to the bathroom to wash the wound in the sink, but the water suddenly becomes boiling hot and damages his wound even further. His hearing quickly returns and he bandages his hand using a bandana from his bag. Wishing to go to a hospital, Enslin attempts to leave the room; however his key breaks off in the door. He still manages to unlock the door, but then the doorknob falls off, trapping him inside 1408.

Enslin begins to see and hear things, including visions of his daughter's time in the hospital shortly before her death, but he initially dismisses them as hallucinations. Among one of these strange visions is a face-to-face encounter with his own father, who tells him, "As I was, you are. As I am, you will be," a quote attributed to the Roman poet Horace regarding death. He makes several attempts to free himself from the room such as crawling through the air vents, where he is seen being chased by a ghost (one of 1408's earlier victims), or trying to crawl outside on the ledge to the next room, but all end in failure. He manages to contact his estranged wife Lily via video chat, but the conversation ends abruptly when the sprinkler system shorts out his laptop. All the while the room temperature drops, eventually to subzero temperatures. However, his laptop starts working again and he hears Lily calling out to him via video chat, but a doppelgänger of him hijacks the conversation, urging Lily to come the hotel immediately and enter room 1408. As a panicked Enslin watches this conversation end, the doppelgänger looks at him directly and winks. The room begins to shake violently and the interior cracks and explodes as water fills the room, pulling Enslin under the surface.

Enslin wakes up on the beach, the result of an earlier surfing accident that is depicted earlier in the film when he became unconscious. He soon finds Lily at his bedside in the hospital near his home in L.A.marker. She tells him that he was hospitalized after sustaining a concussion. He immediately writes a novel on his experience in 1408 and goes to mail it. This reprieve is short-lived, however, when at the post office a construction crew made up of hotel staff and guests begin to destroy the interior, revealing the walls and floor of 1408 underneath, now fire gutted, and finding himself still trapped in the room. There is a small inscription on the wall visible from the window, reading Burn Me Alive. Enslin then encounters his dead daughter, alive, but dying again, and crumbling to dust as the clock radio's countdown approaches zero; when it finally reaches zero the room changes back to its original, undamaged appearance.

The clock radio resets for another 60 minutes and the phone rings; when Enslin answers, he asks "Why don't you just kill me?" the friendly female voice of the hotel operator informs him that he can relive the hour "again and again" or choose to take advantage of their "express checkout system." A hangman's knot appears in the bedroom and Enslin has a vision of him hanging himself; he tells the operator that he will not be checking out that way. The phone rings again, and the operator reminds him that his wife will be arriving in five minutes and will be sent right up to his room. He responds he is done arguing and is going to end the experience.

Turning the cognac he got earlier from Olin into a Molotov Cocktail, Enslin sets the room on fire, causing the hotel to be evacuated. Lily, who just arrives after she had been summoned by Enslin, is stopped from entering the hotel, but tells the firefighters that Enslin is in 1408. Enslin throws an ashtray through the room's windows, intentionally causing a backdraft to overtake the room just seconds before firefighters batter down the door. They get him out and, though burned, Enslin is told that he will be all right. Enslin attempts to tell the firefighters not to enter the room, as it is 'evil'. A short while later, a smiling Olin is seen in his office, smoking a cigar and praising Enslin for surviving.

Enslin recovers in a New York hospital, Lily at his bedside. He swears that he saw Katie, but Lily refuses to believe him. After his recovery Enslin moves back in with Lily, beginning work on a new novel about his stay in 1408. While sorting through a box of items from his night in 1408, Enslin comes across his Mini Cassette recorder. After some difficulty he manages to get the tape to play; it begins with Enslin's dictation of 1408's appearance, but cuts in with audio from his interaction with the apparition of his daughter. Lily freezes in shock as she hears her dead daughter's voice coming from the hand-held tape recorder, and the film closes on Enslin meeting her shocked stare with one of grim vindication.

Alternate ending

Director Mikael Håfström has stated that the ending for 1408 was reshot because test audiences felt that the original ending was too much of a "downer". The original ending, available on the two-disc collector's edition, sees the backdraft engulfing the room as Enslin hides under the table, happy to see the room destroyed as he dies. Olin later approaches Lily and Enslin's agent at his funeral, where he unsuccessfully attempts to give back a box of Enslin's possessions and his tape recorder. Olin listens to the recording in his car, hearing Katie's voice on the tape and catches a quick glimpse of a horribly burnt Enslin in his rear view mirror. The film ends at the gutted room, with an apparition of Enslin disappearing after being called away by the voice of his daughter and the sound of a closing door. The Movie Network (in Canada) shows the version of the film with this ending. The UK single DVD also uses this ending.

Cast



Production

In November 2003 and 2004, Dimension Films optioned the rights to the 2000 short story "1408" by Stephen King. The studio hired screenwriter Matt Greenberg to adapt the story into a screenplay. In October 2005, Mikael Håfström was hired to direct 1408, with the screenplay being rewritten by screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski. In March 2006, actor John Cusack was cast to star in the film, joined by actor Samuel L. Jackson the following April. In July, actress Kate Walsh was cast to star opposite Cusack as the protagonist's ex-wife, but she was forced to exit in August due to scheduling conflicts with her role on Grey's Anatomy. She was replaced by actress Mary McCormack. The Hotel Pennsylvaniamarker was used for many of the interior and room shots for the film. According to John Cusack, the Roosevelt Hotelmarker in New Yorkmarker was used for some of the exterior shots of the Dolphin.

Reception

1408 opened on June 22, 2007 to generally positive reviews. On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 78% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 154 reviews. On Metacritic, the film had an average score of 64 out of 100, based on 27 reviews.

James Berardinelli awarded the film three stars out of four, praising it as "the best horror film of the year". He offered significant praise for Cusack's performance as Mike Enslin, writing that "this is John Cusack's movie to carry, and he has no problem taking it where it needs to go". He found the film to be a refreshing experience, believing it "reminds us what it's like to be scared in a theater rather than overwhelmed by buckets of blood and gore". Many critics believed the film to be far superior to other adaptations of Stephen King novels and stories. Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote a very positive review, describing the film as "one of the good Stephen King adaptations, one that maintains its author's sly sense of humor and satiric view of human nature". He ultimately believed the film to be a "more genuinely scary movie than most horror films."

Several critics, however, found the film to be underwhelming. Wesley Morris of The Boston Globe wrote a mixed review, describing the film as "a lot of consonants and no vowels." He went on to compare the film unfavorably to The Shining, a similar King adaptation, believing 1408 lacked that film's "lunging horror and dramatic architecture." Although he believed the film "conjures a wonderful anticipatory mood of dread in the first 30 minutes," he ultimately believed the film "then blows it to stylish smithereens." Rob Salem of the Toronto Star awarded the film two stars out of four, believing it to be a predictable, "hit and miss" production. Like Morris, Salem wrote that "Even as haunted hotel King movies go, 1408 is certainly no Shining. Not even the TV-movie version."

Box office performance

In the film's opening weekend, it opened in second place at the box office, grossing $20.6 million in 2,678 theaters. 1408 had a production budget of $25 million. The film went on to gross $71.9 million in the United States and Canada. The film has not been as successful in other territories, grossing $58.8 million with a worldwide gross of $132 million.

Home media

The DVD was released in October 2008 with a standard 1-disc edition (widescreen or fullscreen), and a 2-Disc Special Edition with an alternate ending and minutes more of the film.

See also



References

  1. http://www.cinemablend.com/dvdnews/Advance-Hint-At-1408-DVD-Contents-4676.html Advance Hint At 1408 DVD Contents - DVD News
  2. Fandango Summer Movies - Movie Tickets and Theatre Showtimes
  3. Review: 1408
  4. Checkout time? Much sooner than you think
  5. 1408 Movie Review - 1408 Movie Trailer - The Boston Globe
  6. TheStar.com | entertainment | '1408': Hoary movie


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