JUNE 8, 2007
The amount of surprises this movie contains is beyond astonishing. A PG-13, Dimension produced, haunted house movie based on a Stephen King short story and directed by the guy who made one of the worst films (Derailed) in recent memory. NAME ONE FUCKING APPEALING THING ABOUT ANY OF THAT!!
Well you'll be damned, 1408 is actually pretty solid. Expanding the short story in both standard (adding a backstory about Enslin's daughter) and pretty clever (a throwaway line in the short story about a broken thermostat becomes a pretty funny sequence) ways, I remained engaged and entertained throughout most of the running time. There are only a handful of actors who can carry a film almost entirely on his own, luckily John Cusack is one of them (another caveat about this film - it reunites John Cusack and a hotel. Thankfully, Pruitt Taylor Vince is nowhere in sight). But considering how hot she looked, I could have used more Mary McCormack. Actually, the only reason I saw the film was because I was supposed to cover a junket for the film today, with Ms. (I hope it's just Ms. anyway, heyo!) McCormack in attendance, but someone else got it. LAME. This means I am also denied a chance to ask Cusack about the status of Con Air 2.
People near me may have thought I WAS bored, in fact, because I kept looking at my watch. But the reason is, there is a countdown built into the plot (no one ever lasts in the room more than an hour), and at one point the clock begins counting down from 60:00. So every now and then, I checked it against my watch to see if they were cheating. Surprisingly, they didn't (well, you THINK they did, more on that below). Doing real time is pretty tricky (not to mention often boring; see Rope, Nick of Time, and the last season of 24) so to pull it off truthfully while maintaining suspense and entertainment is a laudable achievement.
The only real flaw in the film is that they try to pull a reverse twist, making you think perhaps everything in the hotel was a dream, but this occurs at like 70 minutes into the film, and thus you know damn well that it's not that easy because there's gotta be at least another 20 min to go. Then again, at this point, 3 people walked out, assuming it was over, so I dunno. For me, I think this would have worked better had there been another 10 min or so in the room. But you can't really fault a film for not dragging things out just to satisfy people with a working knowledge of running times. But then they reveal that it's part of the psychological episode, and the 60 minute countdown remains more or less intact. Also, another minor one, there's a great thing in the book where Enslin records a long monologue about the door being crooked, but then when he plays the tape back, all he actually said was "The door is crooked." I would have liked to have seen this incorporated somehow, because it creeped the shit out of me in the short story.
And hey, Sam Jackson (an odd choice to play a fat Jew) manages to drop an F bomb!
What say you?