This is the fourth horror in a row. By now you, my hundreds of loyal, faithful readers, will have fathomed I am not the world's biggest Horror fan, and yet I still partake in them. Why? God only knows because I can't answer that question myself. Most horrors lets me honest are crap, just look at my last three horror viewing atrocicities for evidence to the contrary!! But once in a while the horror genre does manage in its awfulness to throw up something quite good.
1408 is certainly a stand out in a genre riddled with cliques and straight out garbage. This movie I gave a wide berth at my local cinema as it looked too spooky for my weak constituition to scary movies. After last night I'm gald I did because this is genuinely scary. Believe me, the fast forward button got a real workout!!
What lifts 1408 above the rest of its rivals is the cast. This isn't a b-grade horror, as both Samuel L. Jackson and John Cusack are seasoned performers. Jackson has a minor role and yet even in trying to talk Cusack's character out of staying in room 1408 is quite creepy. This though is definitely Cusack's movie all the way. Not only because he is the lead actor or because of his performance. It is because most of the scenes involve him alone. It is very similar to the recent Buried, where Ryan Reynolds carried the movie by himself. Cusack here is in a similar position because at least 80% of the movie is him alone in the room.
The plot involves Cusack as writer of books on supposedly haunted hotels around the States. He recieves a mysterious postcard saying 'Stay out of room 1408' ( 1408 added together makes 13 ), which he dismisses because he is a real sceptic of the paranormal even though he makes a living from it. In short he arrives at the hotel and Jackson's character tries in vain to talk Cusack out of staying in the room. He points out the number of deaths in the room and that most people never stay alive longer than an hour in there. He is well versed in the rooms history and he is truely creepy. I never felt he was genuinely trying to keep Cusack out, but playing a bit dumb and just unconcernedly feeding him to the room.
The hotel manager's reticence is the start of so much unknown in the movie. We really don't know if the manager's motives are genuine or not. When the spooky stuff starts in the room it is again all unknown and never explained. It is brilliant pyscological horror, very, very un-nerving, and un-settling. This is what a horror movie should be about, genuine scares, and this did scare me!! There is no blood, gore, slashers who can't be killed, tits, or any other cliques of horror. We never know what the evil in the room is,which is the key to 14508 success. The unknown and unseen is far scarier than the visible.
Once in the room it doesn't take long for strange things to happen. The great thing is that you get creeped out so quickly that you are constantly on edge expecting something to happen. You are constantly watching the edges of the screen in anticipation. Brilliant stuff, and this is definitely one of the best movies of its kind made in some time. We do see some ghosts, but they are of people who had jumped out of the window. What also works is what seems to be a series of flashbacks make out that Cusack had escaped the room. We quickly find out he hasn't as it is the room messing with his mind and turning him insane. That is the evil of the room, as it induces insanity by reading the occupants minds, and twisting it against them until they kill themselves.
I really felt goose bumps as the clock changed from 6.00 to the one hour count down. Again we come back to the manager telling Cusack that most occupants don't last an hour. We see with the clock what he meant...chilling stuff ( but how does he know all this?? ), quite simple, but it does raise the hairs on your neck! We watch as all sorts of bizare stuff happens as Cusack is subjected to painful periods of his past. He does go insane but instead of checking out like the voice on the phone suggests ( ie, use the noose provided by the room ) Cusack fights back. He knows he'll never leave as the clock re-sets and the hour plays over again, and again, and again.
He sets fire to the room and is killed in the smoke and flames. This is the director's cut and the ending is somewhat dierent to some versions. Some have Cusack actually escaping and the manager saying 'Well done'. I would like to have seen that ending as it comes back to the manager and what his role is in the room and it's evilness. As said though right throughout the movie there is so much unknown which provides the chills and creepiness. Nothing is ever explained. The evil of the room is never revealed, which just sets the perfect setting within the viewers mind. In many respects because so much is unseen we are in Cusack's shoes ourselves as we try to comprehend what is happening.
This is true horror at its very, very best. I'm not a horor afficiando but I do recognise quality when I see it, and this is as good as it gets. No blood, gore, tits, swearing, monsters, etc, make this absolutely creepy crawly. I absolutely guarantee this will make your skin crawl!! For me the unseen in horror is far more terrifying than the seen. Rosemarys' Baby, Paranormal Activity, and 1408 are all brilliant in this premise. They have all spooked me more than many other horrors ever have.
Highly recommended!! A genuine scare fest! Honestly, this one will have you hiding behind the sofa with your thumb on the fast forward button!!!!!