Saturday, October 11, 2014

The MONTH of HORROR - Day 11: 1408

I tell ya, I've stayed in a few hotel rooms in my day where I wish it were ghosts causing my sanity to slowly slip away but alas it's never that simple. It seems like it's always the writers who encounter all these ghastly scenarios, at least that's how it appears to be whenever Stephen King is involved in some way. '1408' is based off of one of King's short stories, and once again he relishes the opportunity to insert his own pathos into the tortured main character--write what you know, I guess!

John Cusack plays Mike Enslin, a failed novelist turned schlock writer who documents haunted buildings, rating each location by how scary they really are, or debunking frightful myths along the way. His latest project brings him to the Dolphin Hotel in New York City, where legend has it there is a particular haunted room within that no one is allowed to check into because Lindsay Lohan once stayed there. THE HORROR!!! Alright, so it's not quite that disgusting but over the decades, several people who have stayed in 1408 met grisly, and mysterious deaths--that's what happens when you don't tip for housekeeping! Samuel L. Jackson plays the hotel manager who does everything in his power to dissuade Enslin from checking in however in the end it's all fruitless because where would the movie go if the writer simply said "yeah, ok, I'll take you up on your penthouse upgrade offer, sweet deal". The End. 4 stars, would watch again!

"It's an evil f*cking room" is all Sam Jackson can say to finally explain why he should stay away, before handing the room key away.

Honestly, fantastic set up for the first 30 minutes here as everything leads you to believe this room is absolutely terrifying, including a very nice touch as an elevator door opens up on its own before Mike reaches 1408, basically as a way of saying "this is your last chance, no turning back now". So why can't the rest of the movie live up to the tension, and suspense of the first act? Pacing. Wow, is this movie ever a lot longer than it needs to be for such a simple, and straight forward premise; haunted hotel room freaks out a skeptical horror writer. That's it, no need to stretch it out for nearly two hours, a tight ninety minutes would have made a world of difference. After the first few jumpy scares, the wheels begin to spin, and boredom begins to settle in.

I like John Cusack, always enjoy watching him on screen as I find him to be an extremely engaging performer, and he's totally fine here, even if he's not exactly stretching himself. The writing does him a disservice though, as there are just too many occasions where he repeats the same character, or emotional beats--how many times can a man grab at his hair and look distressed? A lot actually, yeah, you'll be seeing that quite a bit in this flick. Just John Cusack looking scared, and then the movie ends after slogging through the final act. A strong start, and a very weak finish for '1408'.

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