Starring: John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, Tony Shalhoub, Mary McCormack, Jasmine Jessica Anthony, Christopher Carey, Mary McCormack
Director: Mikael Håfström
Distributor: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Genre: Thriller, Horror, Adaptation
Recommended for: Dads and Teens
Age Groups: 13+
Release Date: June 22, 2007
Run Time: 1 hr. 34 min.
1408 may be a safe option for dads who want to introduce their kids to movies in the Horror genre. Based on one of Stephen King’s short stories, the movie revolves around Mike Enslin’s (John Cusack) experience of the paranormal. Mike Enslin is an author researching for his book titled “10 Nights in Haunted Hotels.” He heads to New York City and into the Dolphin Hotel. His goal is to spend an entire night in room 1408, known for its haunting and mysterious deaths. The Hotel’s manager Gerald Olin (Samuel L. Jackson) tries very hard to persuade Mike to change his mind. Mike goes anyway.
Though the connection may not be apparent, Stephen King has metaphorically woven the entire storyline around abuse, addictions, and tragedy. Unlike the majority of Stephen King’s works, the story lacks any real depth. However, the screenplay is cleverly done. The metaphorical story relates to the trap that keeps us locked in feelings of loss and emptiness, bitterness and resentment. Sometimes we are deluded into feeling life is safer that way. John Cusack does a great job in this almost entirely solo endeavor.
The under current in the story is about free will. Dads can draw upon the lesson that the hardness of life can sometimes make people callused and bitter. However, at some point we have the choice to be free. There is a scene in which Mike is told that he always has free will. When hearing this, he is told that in this instance it is to have the will to continue in this torture, or to die. Mike does not choose death. Instead, he chooses to break through the illusion of torture and return to reality.
Dads, be cautioned because there are flashes of graphic images from the deaths which occurred in room 1408. Some scenes linger on gruesome photographs from the crime scenes, other times these suicides and deaths are re-enacted. In a few instances, ghosts of past residents seem to appear in the room.
There are several scenes of human blood, both in real time, as well as flashbacks and photos. In one scene, the very ordinary hotel artwork transforms into perverse versions. There is some sort of unexplained supernatural entity, which for many is automatically a cause for concern. There are several “jump scenes.” The weak of heart or those easily scared might want to stay away from the movie.
There is profanity used. However, considering the film’s genre, the language is pretty mild. During a very brief scene, when Mike first enters room 1408, he searches through the on screen television menu scanning the “Adult Entertainment.”
Overall, 1408 is fairly average. As is typical with most Cusack roles, there is dry humor in the right places, relieving tension and leaving it entertaining. The special affects are tasteful, for the most part. The scarier scenes rely more on suspense than gore. It could be considered one of the better PG-13 movies, of this genre.