Movie Review
1408 poster
By Lee Tistaert     Published June 14, 2007
US Release: June 22, 2007

Directed by: Mikael Håfström
Starring: John Cusack , Samuel L. Jackson , Mary McCormack , Tony Shalhoub

PG-13 thematic material including disturbing sequences of violence and terror, frightening images and language
Running Time: 94 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $71,912,310
11 of 150
This is a supreme example in which you can see the director?s vision and the determination all-around to make the film good.
This is the biggest surprise I've had this year. I didn't expect to like this movie. I thought it would be yet another cheesy PG-13 horror movie played down for mass audiences. But this movie was quite the opposite of what I was anticipating. The direction and tone is solid, it manages to be creepy and funny, and John Cusack carries the show beautifully.

Movies based on Stephen King novels or his short stories tend to be pretty bad; only a select few have risen above the fold. And while there are definitely connections to The Shining in here, 1408 holds its own ground and rises above its rather silly premise. This is a supreme example in which you can see the director?s vision and the determination all-around to make the film good.

1408 is about a travel book writer (Cusack) who checks into an infamous hotel room in Manhattan where supposedly no one has gotten out alive. He knows these haunted hotels are scams, and writes about them in his publications. There is an urban legend about anyone who crosses in to 1408, and he wants to prove the theory wrong in order to write about the experience. Equipped with a tape recorder, he records his stay in the mythical haunted room.

The film uses sound and silence very effectively and John Cusack jumps into the role passionately. A movie like this depends on the main star to make the audience believe in the unknown, especially since it is almost a one-man show, and Cusack takes it on as if he?s been waiting years for a role like this. The filmmakers are aware of the effect of the imagination, as the film doesn't just resort to cheap scares as the ads have been indicating. Part of the joy of horror comes from what you don't see in the moment; what you're hearing off-screen. 1408 is not far from The Sixth Sense in terms of mood, and the use of the cinematography for suspense is similar to What Lies Beneath.

The movie has some surprise potential at the box office, as the audience was wrapped up in it, and I heard quite a few comments afterwards that it was better than expected. Horror movies aren't really a summer thing, but 1408 is more of a creepy thriller with supernatural elements, and is likely to please those who have been discontent with PG-13 movies in the genre.
Lee's Grade: B
Ranked #11 of 150 between Zoo (#10) and Bug (#12) for 2007 movies.
Lee's Overall Grading: 3025 graded movies
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