The Dolphin Hotel invites you to stay in any of its stunning rooms. Except one.
Isiah Whitlock Jr.
Thomas A. McMahon
Running Time: 94 minutes
US Certificate: PG-13
Country: United States
There have been some truly great Stephen King movie adaptations, the best ones such as Stand By Me, The Shawshank Redemption and Misery, are not necessarily the ones with a strong supernatural/horror element. The greatest King adaptations are the ones with the powerful psychological aspect and this is where 1408 really hits the mark, artfully combining the nail biting psychological melt down of the main character, with some great cower in your seats scares, like Pet Semetary and The Shining, 1408 is King at his best.
Mike Enslin is a writer, who despite being a sceptic when it comes to the supernatural, has written a range of books detailing haunted places to stay. He finds out about a supposedly haunted hotel room in New York and forces a very reluctant hotel manager (played with smirking gravitas by Samuel L. Jackson) to allow him to stay for the night, despite the managers insistence that nobody has managed more than an hour in the room. Slightly unnerved, Enslin insists on staying, gets the key and heads for the room. Everything seems normal, almost ordinary, the first few disturbances are creepy, but could be explained rationally and then they suddenly turn more sinister, with Enslins rational explanations drying up as his increasingly frantic attempts to leave the room are thwarted at every turn. He begins to fall apart in front of our eyes as he is forced to confront his unpleasant past and deal with his own demons as well as the nightmares the room is throwing at him.
John Cusack is excellent. He does a masterful job of carrying the film, a job made especially difficult when you consider the only other main character is the room itself. Cusack brings the same intensity, focus and connection he brought to Identity, his portrayal of Enslin is intelligent, sympathetic and totally believable. This makes Enslins breakdown so much more painful to watch. His hysterical ranting at the mini bar carries real weight and is just one stop on his desperate path, as the rooms attacks become more aggressive.
The look and feel of the film have been carefully thought out, on first inspection the room itself is almost boring, right down to the flowery wallpaper and banal pictures, it all serves to make the supernatural aspect of the film more of a shock. Subtle clues can be found around the room to its evil nature, terrifyingly highlighted when Enslin walks round with an ultra violet light, displaying the blood splatters though the whole room, eerie signposts to its brutal past.
This was a gripping and effect horror movie, with a solid plot, a great cast and some genuine jump out of your skin moments. King on brilliant form, we welcome you back, this is almost enough to make me forgive you for Dreamcatcher . almost.
It's Got: Frights, a little blood, mixed with a hand full of nasty violence and some really bad wallpaper.
It Needs: Someone to hold your hand through the scary bits.
A great display of psychological unraveling, some truly jumpy moments and the hotel room from hell.