1408 - Unrated Director's Cut Review
Written by: rerj73
I'm at a bit of a disadvantage, not having seen this in the theater, so I'm hard pressed to make comparison to the "original" edit of the film. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed this film. Whereas most of the horror films I see are like a belt of whiskey, strong, fiery, but with little lasting effect, 1408 is like a bottle of fine wine. It is something to be savored, to roll around your brain, to pick at and play with, just as the room suggested by the title toys with its victim.
In this case, it is Michael Enslin (John Cusack, in a tour de force one-man show), a writer of haunted travel books who has more faith in his microcasette recorder than in any ghoulie advertised by his destinations. However, when a mysterious card is sent to him with a warning to stay away from the Dolphin Hotel's room 1408 in New York, Enslin sees it as a challenge and quickly books the room.
A creepy turn by Samuel L. Jackson as the hotel's manager provides the history of the room, and it is a scene I could have watched all night. The play between Cusack and Jackson is fun and unsettling. The fun really begins when Enslin makes his way to the room, where Enslin will face a series of disturbing adventures before the movie's denouement. What makes this movie so special is its literacy, and it's ability to crawl inside the main character's head without the benefit of inappropriate narration. The pace of the film is slow, but steady, and finds a way to make the room feel more and more oppressive as the film goes on. Without giving anything away, the film's conclusion is unusual and welcome.
After viewing, I was left with the feeling reserved for the conclusion of a satisfying read, were the author (or director) has managed to create a true vision and tone, and we are lucky to be taken along. If you haven't seen this yet, do yourself a favor: ge a glass of wine, dim the lights and check in. Like Enslin, you may find it harder to check out.