There comes a point in horror movies where lengthy, elaborate plot explanations begin to wear on the viewer. The game of Clue could be explained in a few minutes, and a roundabout series of suggestions might be documented, but in the end what everybody is most interested in is who actually committed the murder? 1408 provides a nice break from the self-aggrandizing supernatural storylines, often with disappointing explanations. In fact, the movie does not explain itself much at all, aside from Samuel L Jackson’s epic proclamation: “It’s an evil f*cking room.”
Mike Enslin (played by John Cusack) is a horror book writer, who recently lost his daughter to illness, and his marriage in the process. (Sorry James, it’s another one of these.) He travels from place to place, the location of gruesome murders or just popular locations where ghosts are believed to have been seen, and spends the night. Naturally, any individual who would put himself in such a situation is utterly unconvinced of anything supernatural. But when he comes across a message telling him to check out room 1408 at The Dolphin Hotel, his curiosity is peaked.
Enslin is affronted by a series of people, things, and even the Hotel manager Olin (Samuel L. Jackson) trying to convince him to leave, pick another room, or even write a false story about one of the other rooms with a similar floor plan. Ultimately, as everyone watching the film knows, he ultimately ends up in the room, much to the chagrin of Olin.
“I told you so.”
What follows is a pretty solid, spooky horror film. Cusack has to handle the load almost entirely by himself, and he does so admirably. I would go so far as to suggest that this is his perfectly cast role. His dry monologues into a tape recorder quickly change in tone and urgency, as the spirits he refused to believe in start turning his overnight experience into a living hell.
“Eight dollars for nuts? This room is evil.”
Here I should note that when I used the term “spirits,” I was being somewhat dishonest. Olin explains, in his efforts to get Enslin to look elsewhere, that whatever is in 1408 doesn’t follow the typical mold of supernatural existence. This is part of what makes the movie a more unique experience; there isn’t an angry ghost trying to find peace, there isn’t any particular motive involved with the nefarious forces. It’s simply an “Evil f*cking room.”
I admit, I don’t really have a caption for this one. But look at the wall!
I don’t expect everyone to be equally amused by this film. But despite its holding to several Stephen King staples, it is significantly more raw, barebones horror. This will disappoint anyone looking for a greater meaning, but will hopefully amuse those of you just looking for an unapologetic fright without unnecessary distractions. It’s much more a sit-back-and-relax experience than a make-you-think one, and for a change of pace, that isn’t such a bad thing.