Although not what would be classified as a typical horror movie, 1408, though definitely a thriller, still would qualify as a horror and thriller film, in my opinion. I’ll get to why in a minute.
In this movie adaptation of Stephen King’s short story, Mike Enslin (John Cusack), a writer about the world’s greatest haunts, gets a post card baiting him to The Dolphin Hotel, a hotel that forbids any guests to check into s particular room, Room 1408. As a true skeptic and non-believer of ghosts and the paranormal, he is compelled to go to the hotel and stay in this room.
Once he gets to the hotel, the manager, Mr. Olin, played by Samuel L. Jackson, implores him to reconsider his stay in the room. Mike has already done research on the history of the room and is not phased by any of the horrible deaths that have occurred there (merely coincidences I guess?). But, Mr. Olin educates him further by providing him with a leather book bound file on every death that has occurred in Room 1408 over a span of 68 years, after which, Olin had the room closed to guests for good for safety reasons.
Still not deterred, and after much pleading from Mr. Olin plus a warning that nobody lasts longer than an hour in there (and an unsuccessful bribe with a bottle of very expensive liquor), Mike is given the key and enters the room.
At first nothing is out of the ordinary. In fact, the room is disgustingly ordinary. Or so it seems. Then he starts to look closer and notices that the bedroom doesn’t have a window, which IS odd for a hotel (even if the window doesn’t open, it’s usually still there).
And that’s when things start happening. The alarm clock sounds without him having set it. Now, true this could have been done by housekeeping or even the manager, Mr. Olin, so, as anyone would do, he tries to rationalize it…and moves on. Then the alarm clock plays music on its own…”We’ve Only Just Begun” (which will now be a forever creepy song to me). As this stuff starts to happen, the clock starts a countdown timer by itself…sixty minutes…”Nobody lasts more than an hour” (this alarm clock, I tell ya…).
Then he starts seeing images…images if the people who stayed in the room before him and died there, people who killed themselves in the room, even people who are from his own personal past. He sees his dead daughter. He sees his father (and we are led to believe that was not a, shall we say healthy, relationship).
The room becomes more and more of his own personal hell, spinning him into a realm of utter torment and ultimate terror, a realm that is well beyond his control.
Eventually, as he lays in the room, now trashed and in ruins, thinking he’s about to die, he calls his ex-wife on video chat, who happens to live in the same city as the hotel. While he’s trying to explain to her what is going on he looks at the clock…his time is almost out. In the midst of the conversation with his ex the room takes over his call and coaxes her to come to the hotel.
It’s at this time he decides to check out…but can’t. And his time runs out. Everything erupts into complete chaos and he thinks it’s the end. Yet, he wakes up on the floor, in the room…his timer on the alarm clock starting over from sixty minutes again.
This is the point that Mike decides to fight back. After all he’s endured, he decides that if he’s gonna die then he’s gonna burn the room and take it down with him. In doing so, he eliminates whatever evil traps him in the room and when Fire and Rescue show up, they are able to pull him out to safety.
Afterwards, Mike decides to give up writing (once he heals from his injuries). His ex-wife doesn’t really believe his story about what happened to him in the room however, while she is helping Mike pack up his stuff and get rid of some things, they find a box of items he had kept from the stay in Room 1408. They are nasty and smell like smoke. He tells her she can pitch everything but his little handheld voice recorder. And as he hits play and the recording of his notes on his stay start playing back, his ex-wife hears his encounter with his daughter, she hears them speaking to each other and she is shocked and drops the box in absolute amazement as she stares at Mike, realizing he was telling her the truth the whole time.
Okay, so, there’s a lot that happens in this movie. I couldn’t cover all of it. Although Samuel L. Jackson has what seems like a relatively small part, he is truly effective, as he always seems to be. Both actors, Cusack and Jackson, do a superb job of expressing the dread of Room 1408, the sinister things that have happened there and the chaos it brings to the human mind and soul. The fact that woven into the happenings of the past are his own demons and past torments really makes for an excruciating, hellish existence.
I thought this was a pretty good thriller. It says on the cover that it’s as good as The Shining, which I certainly CANNOT endorse but, still a good thriller flick for movie night. I didn’t feel let down. The special effects were decent. The acting was decent. So, while it’s not something I would recommend right off the bat, if someone were to ask me if it’s worth watching, I’d say yes.