This is a short story by Stephen King. I thought I would read it since I watched the movie and did a review on it. (You can read the film review HERE.) Plus, King has listed this as one of his ten favorite movie adaptations of his stories. So, I wanted to see where it all started.
I did enjoy reading this story. Although, even though it’s a short story, I expected more detail from King as he tends to get a little long-winded and microscopic at times. So, I expected a little more. However, the less detail given by the author allows the reader to use their imagination to fill in the gaps and that is always fun. I mean, what’s the point of reading if you aren’t taken away to another place in your mind?
There were some differences between the book and the movie, as you might expect.
First of all, in the book, there is no back story on Mike Enslin. There’s nothing about him being a writer in a slump nor about signing autographs on tour to stay away from his family because…he doesn’t have a family in the book. That’s right. There’s no ex-wife to call for help over web video chat and there’s no dead daughter to mourn. He also doesn’t have any hallucinations about his father in the book version.
The described entity of the room itself is still very much the same. It imprints a loathed feeling of impending doom upon whoever dares to enter. King intended for the room to have an effect on people like the physical, emotional and visual effects of taking mescaline or LSD…not to mention the psychological effects.
Mr. Olin, the character played by Samuel L. Jackson, is the same. He played that part to perfection. His character in the book is still as certain that no one should go into that room.
Now, in the movie, we are informed that nobody has ever lasted more than an hour in that room. This is a big part of the movie and its suspense factor. In the book, there is no warning. There is no clock counting down or playing creepy music.
Also, when he calls anyone from the room, it happens differently in the book.
We have no repairman in the book to come fix a broken thermostat either. There is no mention of a temperature issue at all.
When Mike enters the room in the film, it takes some time for it to start to affect him. In the book, his downward spiral into madness starts almost immediately. It’s also where the vagueness comes in as the descriptions of the madness itself are not as detailed as King normally gets. Mike is also much more deeply traumatized and forever changed in the book as opposed to the film ending where he finds some peace at least. That being said, it completely adds to the darkened sadness of the story. Knowing that an hour in that room scarred him emotionally and psychologically forever is truly heartbreaking. I mean, it practically ruins him in the book.
King intended this story as just an excerpt for a book he was working on, “How to Write”. He later went back and developed it into a short story purely to satisfy his own curiosity. He wondered what would happen if Enslin, a non-believer in ghosts and the like, actually met and had to face proof that he was wrong.
King also praises John Cusack for his performance in the film. I read a few comments of his in the book “Stephen King Goes to The Movies” distributed by PocketBooks. It’s a collection of his short stories that have been made into movies. He talks about each one in a blip before the story. 1408 can also be found in Everything's Eventual, another book of King's short stories.
Although I really enjoyed the book version, as far as real horror and thriller type stuff goes…I think the movie takes it. King comments about how adding a back story hardly ever works in these situations but, in this one it did and he liked it. (I mean, I think it’s a real compliment when the author thinks the director and actors grabbed ahold of his vision and got what he was saying.)
This is, however, a good read for any horror short story fan. I would tell any fan of the genre to check this out if they liked to read. If they aren’t big readers that’s okay too because it’s not a very long story.
I hope you guys check it out sometime.