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Reviews
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POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
John Cusack
Samuel L Jackson
Mary McCormack.
Directors
Mikael Hafstrom.
Screenwriters
Matt Greenberg
Scott Alexander
Larry Karaszewski.
Running Time
94 minutes

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1408
Another Stephen King haunted hotel, and it’s as evil as The Overlook


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Plot
Writer Mike Enslin (Cusack) makes a living debunking ghost stories by staying in ‘haunted’ inns. When he gets a mysterious postcard warning of a New York hotel’s room 1408, he decides it’ll make for a great last chapter to his new book. Big mistake.


Review
1408
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There’s been a distinct paucity of ghouls, goblins and ghosties in horror of late. While we’ve been treated to plenty of shocks à la buzz saw, thanks to the current wave of torture-porn, it’s been a while since all hell literally broke loose to satisfying effect.
 
1408 goes a long way to redressing that balance. Based on a short story by Stephen King, the original monarch of menace, it’s an inspired, white-knuckle chill-ride with old-school leanings.
 
The tale, first released as an audiobook in 2000, follows Mike Enslin (John Cusack), a man with a troubled family history who writes pulpy ghost guides. He replays the same ritual: checking into a supposedly ghost-infested hotel room, a single cigarette tucked behind his ear, and waiting until dawn. He’s given up the habit, but carries the smoke with him, the sole concession of a sceptic that there might be something out there, and that one night he’ll meet it. And sure enough, in Room 1408 of the Dolphin Hotel, that cigarette finally gets sparked.
 
Essentially, this is a one-man show: for most of the run-time, once Enslin enters 1408, it’s just a guy reacting to four walls and some furniture. In John Cusack’s hands, though, it becomes a lot more. It’s his first foray into the chilly mind-corridors of horror (unless you count psycho-thriller Identity), and he attacks it with impressive energy.
 
His Enslin starts cynical, pale as a ghost himself and haunted by memories; once the real haunting begins, he unravels before our eyes. Rather than ham it up, Cusack, a master of understatement, plays it cool and quiet, so when he does freak out, it’s all the more powerful.
 
Speaking of understatement, Samuel L. Jackson dials down his usual shouty schtick in a small role as the spooky hotel’s spookier manager. An effective early scene sees him plead with Enslin to stay away from the cursed 14th floor, producing grisly photos of earlier victims and delivering a one-liner that’s sure to become classic Jackson: “It’s an evil fucking room.” His other appearance, later on in the movie, doesn’t work so well, an unintentionally comical use of special effects that comes off like a deleted scene from Ghostbusters.
 
In fact, one niggle that can be raised is that the film gets swamped unnecessarily with CGI towards the end. Just as Kubrick’s take on The Shining cut out the supernatural animal topiaries, the makers of 1408 have excised some of King’s more colourful paranormal flourishes (adieu, woodcut wolf). Even so, the later, big-scale set-pieces don’t work as well as the early, squirmy jolts of fear as the room starts to turn on Enslin.
 
Proving you don’t need piles of body parts to make a scary movie, director Mikael Håfström wrings unease out of everyday guest-house items - chocolates left on a turned-down bed, an antique thermostat, the ominous red glow of an alarm clock. Once it’s set up, the frankly ridiculous duel - one man versus an en suite - works surprisingly well. So well, in fact, that it’s a shame when Håfström suffers from third-act nerves, involving Enslin’s family in the action and pulling a trick that’s meant as a clever twist but is actually a sneaky cheat.


Verdict
Not up there with the best King adaptations, but a fun Gothic yarn that, like all good ghost stories, is simple and dripping with dread.


Reviewed by Nick De Semlyen

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for 1408
Empire Star Rating

This film suffers from disassociative identity disorder - there are so may endings, some of which are nearly impossible to find, that its almost impossible to review the whole thing objectively. That said, when watched home alone Cusack's straight man act is unexpectedly chilling, and the use of dark jokes (a la Carpenters Music) adds nicely to a well rounded shiver-fest. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by LouisBond at 21:18, 05 February 2010 | Report This Post


1408

1408 is a genuinely creepy thriller with a strong lead performance by John Cusack. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by deppfanatic at 20:30, 16 October 2009 | Report This Post


Iffy

The opening 45 mins of this are excellent, especially the first 15 mins when we get into the room, fully of quirkky ghostly goings on and the dread does build up well, with paintings being moved, phantom After8's etc. But then it all gets a bit silly, the dread and tension that had been built up very well, gets lost in a load of totally over the top silly-ness. It only gets back online when Mike "gets out" and then the finale kind of gets things back on track. If only there wasn't that... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by The Bantam Menace at 10:15, 08 August 2008 | Report This Post


Iffy

The opening 45 mins of this are excellent, especially the first 15 mins when we get into the room, fully of quirkky ghostly goings on and the dread does build up well, with paintings being moved, phantom After8's etc. But then it all gets a bit silly, the dread and tension that had been built up very well, gets lost in a load of totally over the top silly-ness. It only gets back online when Mike "gets out" and then the finale kind of gets things back on track. If only there wasn't that... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by The Bantam Menace at 10:15, 08 August 2008 | Report This Post


CRAP, CRAP and utterly CRAP!!! Not scary even once! For Gods sake, can anybody please make a really scary movie soon? One that scares you so that you don't even brush your teeth before bed but jumps right in and hide under the sheets 'til morning! It's a long time since The Shining, folks... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by larstrygve at 23:40, 19 April 2008 | Report This Post


I liked it

It was a good thrill and the plot is quite good some parts are quite freaky in all its a good traditional ghost story. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Hedgehog Nolan at 18:31, 08 April 2008 | Report This Post


. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by David G at 20:43, 22 March 2008 | Report This Post


A taut, nightmarish thriller

This is a truly great film, and while it dosen't deliver on the jump scenes, it sure as hell delivers that atmosphere of menace. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blaud at 13:11, 12 March 2008 | Report This Post


Not Scary

*** SPOILERS ***   The main problem with this film is that it largely lacks scares. Apart from some strange slasher type character and a corpse in a ventilation shaft it had nothing to offer in that department.   Plus it's cliche ridden which doesn't help it all and I found myself willing it to end because eventually I got quite bored with everything. I'd agree with Empire and give it three stars mainly because of John Cusack who is good value for money.   ... More

Posted by Fluke Skywalker at 12:51, 29 February 2008 | Report This Post


Crap!

This was up there as the most stupid and "who cares" films of all time. Cusack is dire & the storyline is rubbish. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jonathanegan1 at 16:26, 14 February 2008 | Report This Post


Good ghost story with gothic overtones--1408

Decent chiller with great effects and good acting. The ending is a cop out in some ways but still a good movie. Like the combo of Jackson and Cusack. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lynnshep at 15:09, 10 February 2008 | Report This Post


P.S.

It is a 15 not 12A ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Bubba76 at 22:44, 16 January 2008 | Report This Post


Expected

There aint many Stephen King adaptations which involve ghosts etc. that come out good on the screen, and this one was okay! I am a big King fan and read the short story this was made from. Obviously they had to flesh it out, and they did... with predictable "shocks" but I did enjoy it and even jumped a couple of times :-) ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Bubba76 at 22:42, 16 January 2008 | Report This Post


Nicely directed, well performed by Cusack, 1408 only suffers in its third act, but pulls out a truely heartstopping finale. Hugely entertaining and suspensful. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by killervideotape at 12:23, 09 January 2008 | Report This Post


WHOA!

This film is totally scary, especaily the bit in the airvent with the dead man coming alive and chasing the leading man! The perfomances were good, Samuel was the best and his catchphrase was funny. John Cusack is pretty good as the unbeileveable ghost hunter but boy did he get a shock when he went into that room. All in all, a good scary film not to watch in the dark! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by joanna likes films at 12:05, 06 January 2008 | Report This Post


Great Fun.....

1408 is the kind of film that takes you by surprise, its clearly a film that in the states has a pg-13 certificate and is branded with a 15 certificate in england. But ulike all the others of these fils this was actually a fine peice of film-making. It was interesting,scary and best of well acted and well directed.The plai creepiness and unsettling atmospher of the hotle room was astonshing and the fact that the film didn't rely on gore was even better. All in all a very enjoyable film to watch.... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by JimBo! at 16:49, 11 October 2007 | Report This Post


Not the best but it's ok

Not the best steaven King adaptation there is but is still worth a watch if just for john cusac alone who gives a great performance!!!! I suggest to those that are interested or have watched the film and thought that it was good, to read the short story first as it has a much better ending and none of that corny, "I lost my daughter" thing in it. Three stars for tension and scare factor, losing two stars for not enogh goasts and dragging on a bit ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Empo at 12:20, 10 October 2007 | Report This Post


Not the best but it's ok

Not the best steaven King adaptation there is but is still worth a watch if just for john cusac alone who gives a great performance!!!! I suggest to those that are interested or have watched the film and thought that it was good, to read the short story first as it has a much better ending and none of that corny, "I lost my daughter" thing in it. Three stars for tension and scare factor, losing two stars for not enogh goasts and dragging on a bit ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Empo at 12:20, 10 October 2007 | Report This Post


RE: Decent

Worth watching for the refridgerator scene alone.p; "WHAT DO YOU WANT!!!" ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Caster at 00:56, 10 October 2007 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

must say i wasnt too happy with this film! my parents watched it the night before me and said they couldnt even sit threw the whole thing it was so scary so i was excited to see how scary it really was but it wasnt scary at all!! was a real wierd the film! worth a look i would say though cause its a very different film to what ive seen lately! reminded me of the shining abit! ... More

Posted by Topher182 at 00:24, 09 October 2007 | Report This Post


Nice

Thought this was very enjoyable and creepy! My girlfriend couldn't sleep after this flim - so thats a good sign! Found the flim ended rather easily but good acting from Cusack. Worht seeing. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by dja_list at 10:48, 02 October 2007 | Report This Post


yeh man not bad at all

3 and a half stars really, could've been darker but an enjoyable flick nonetheless. spooky score and loved the tone of the film but just thought it could've been more darker, now if lynch had directed...... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jerkyjudas at 00:18, 02 October 2007 | Report This Post


yeh man not bad at all

3 and a half stars really, could've been darker but an enjoyable flick nonetheless. spooky score and loved the tone of the film but just thought it could've been more darker, now if lynch had directed...... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jerkyjudas at 00:18, 02 October 2007 | Report This Post


Decent

Cusack is brilliant as usual and the first hour is great, but the kitchen sink gets thrown in at the end. The director's cut isn't better either. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Caster at 18:11, 28 September 2007 | Report This Post


RE:

Well, it's nice to see film-makers tackle a horror movie that doesn't involve dismemberment and torture. There were a couple of moments in this where I literally jumped in my seat. But ultimately I felt it didn't really work. Although Cusack does yeoman's work, appearing onscreen on his own for most of the film's 90 minutes, the plot eventually runs out of clever, creepy things to throw at him and then resorts to chucking the kitchen sink at him. There's only so much you can do in a confined sp... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by RJNeb2 at 00:42, 18 September 2007 | Report This Post


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