Review of 1408 (The Film)

1408-cover I wonder if Mike Enslin (Played by John Cusack) knows about “creeper weed.” He is the protagonist of Mikael Hafstrom’s film 1408 which is based on a short story by Stephen King.  In case he doesn’t know much about such things, I’ll explain it to him.  See Mr. Enslin, you know you’ve been smoking “creeper weed” if after you have taken a couple of hits, you feel nothing. So you take a few more puffs.  These extra inhalations allow you to, finally, feel something; not much, but oh well, the buzz it gives you will just have to do.  You go about your business. At some point during this business, you suddenly realize that you are stoned off of your ass!  The buzz has snuck up on ya! It “creeped” its way into your state of being, leaving you to wonder “When did all this happen?”  It’s a strong buzz too.  You’re not thinking straight. Everything is out of whack.  You’re afraid. (BTW, how do I know about “creeper weed”?  I heard it from a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy that read a book about it)

Mr. Enslin, are you all right? Oh dear. It seems that Mr. Enslin is a tad uncomfortable upon hearing of the effects of creeper weed.  But it’s worse than that Mr. Enslin, right?  You are terrified. It almost seems as if you have had a similar experience. Maybe not with drugs. Maybe with, I don’t know, a haunted hotel room that turned reality inside out and nearly drove you insane with fear?

See readers, Mike Enslin doesn’t believe in ghosts or any kind of paranormal phenomena. He is an author of haunted house books (Like yours truly!). He travels to supposedly haunted inns, uncovers the history as to why the place is haunted (past murders, death by illnesses, etc.) and writes about his experience in these hotels. But he never experiences anything out of the ordinary.  Until he stays in the Dolphin Hotel in New York City. Room 1408.  A fine suite it is; luxurious, two or three rooms. The hotel manager (Samuel L Jackson) had warned him that no guest has ever lasted more than an hour inside this room. Well, Enslin arrives in his room, several minutes go my and….nothing!  Same old, same old.  (Boring impotent weed.) Okay, so suddenly there are fancy chocolates on the bed and a couple of other complimentary items and décor that wasn’t there moments ago.  Or, maybe they were there and he just didn’t notice.  Nothing else to see – move on, move on!  So the clock radio alarm goes off.  The last guest must have set it to go off at this time.  Things are a little weird, but these happenings, whatever they are, are harmless.  Then ghosts appear and start jumping out of the windows. (Uh oh….!)  More stuff happens; stuff stranger than the previous occurrences. Then More! Still MORE!   Suddenly poor Mike doesn’t know what’s real and what isn’t.  And the room won’t let him leave!  Everything goes to hell and Mike comes to the realization that the evil of the room has slowly but surely “crept” up on him. A devastating evil it is. And it won’t let him go.

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The drug metaphors I have used to describe this film; excuse me if this puts you off, but I believe they effectively describe the feel of the movie. It has the flair of a psychedelic trip; albeit a trip or horrors – a very bad trip. But luckily for us the viewers, we are grounded in reality on the other side of the screen. Any “trippy” experience to be had is thankfully vicarious. But I’ll admit that I found myself a bit exhausted by the film’s end.

I really liked this movie. It is a tense film with psychological drama mixed in with the horror. John Cusack is excellent. And Samuel L Jackson, though his screen time is limited, brings a welcoming performance.  This movie is one of my favorites. See it!

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