To date, 100 of Stephen King’s novels, novellas, short stories, and even suggestions have been adapted into either motion pictures or mini-series. Naturally, King holds the Guinness World Record of having the most motion picture adaptations by a living author. Of these 100, the bright spots include: The Shining, Misery, The Shawshank Redemption, and The Green Mile. Now, add 1408 to the list; this gripping thriller rises with the aforementioned as one of the better features spawned from King source material.
Yet again, King follows his typical form in featuring a lead character who's a writer. After showing huge promise with his debut novel, Mike Enslin (John Cusack) finds himself drudging through book after book reporting on paranormal phenomena. Since losing his young daughter (Jasmine Jessica Anthony) and separating from his wife (Mary McCormack), Enslin has fallen into a mid-life crisis funk.
As research for his latest book, Enslin attempts to stay in New York City’s Dolphin Hotel. But the one room that Enslin wishes to occupy just so happens to be booked for an eternity. That room is 1408.
After an intense debate with the hotel manager, Mr. Olin (Samuel L. Jackson), Enslin receives the key to the reportedly evil room. From this point on, Enslin experiences a series of escalating events that cause him to rethink the notion that all ghostly disturbances are man-made. All the while, The Carpenters so eloquently sing, “We’ve Only Just Begun.”
No doubt, 1408 is a mind trip from normal to paranormal. The picture transports you to another realm where paintings come alive, wives and children haunt, electronics go haywire, and things definitely aren’t what they seem. By the time the credits roll, 1408 leaves you questioning whether the current world you live in is real or artificial, and that is perhaps the film’s most powerful effect.
Perplexity aside, with Cusack’s inclusion, 1408 instantaneously reminds viewers of Being John Malkovich (in a mind-bending kind of way) and Identity. Cusack’s work is executed with a wrought intensity and painstaking paranoia. Here, Cusack is a far cry from Sixteen Candles and Better Off Dead; he’s matured, progressed, and learned how to intently stare into a camera lens while tugging at his hair.
In analyzing the conclusion, 1408 could not end more appropriately. The film culminates in a closing that literally sends chills down the spine. Furthermore, by incorporating the cigarette from minutes before, the film refuses to leave one loose end open or one prop unused. 1408 resolves itself in a justifiable sense, and just when you may think that the film is going to play the dream card, it rises up and exceeds your expectations.
1408 transcends your typical horror/thriller and leads viewers into bewilderment — letting thoughts abound. It’s a hell of an adaptation from King’s short story and an overall phenomenal screenplay. 1408 is one room you should surely check in to. No matter how frightened you may be, 1408 is worth the boarding fee.
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