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1408 brings emotional torture to the forefront and really makes you think

Updated on October 20, 2011

Try this and other John Cusack or Stephen King movies

In any list of Halloween movies, it's not surprising to find Stephen King represented. Now this isn't the first movie I've reviewed this month based on a work by King, and it won't be the last. However, I have to state that I definitely enjoy this one much more than The Shining.

1408 follows an author named Mike Enslin (John Cusack) who visits hotels and towns that claim a history of hauntings then reviews and writes about his experiences. He receives a postcard from a New York hotel with a simple, though ominous message: Don't Enter 1408. Clearly this is way too complicated a request for this author and he calls the hotel to make a reservation. The hotel manager, Gerald Olin (Samuel L Jackson), stonewalls him until his publisher has a lawyer find an old civil rights law to force his hand.

Olin informs Enslin regarding the dozens of deaths that have occurred in that room and tells him that nobody has ever lasted more than an hour there. He stays anyway and events unfold.

I like this one. It starts slowly, creating a good atmosphere before moving on to an escalating series of threatening events.

I have to admit here, though, that while this is listed as a scary movie—and it does have some good jumps here—this one isn't about the scares nearly as much as it's about the psychological journey and torture that Enslin himself goes through.

He's forced to relive a tragic event in his past that caused him to doubt the existence of God or extra-worldly forces. His world view is thrown into question and he makes some realizations about why exactly people are drawn to his ghost stories in the first place.

In the end, we're given no real answers. Things work out the way they do, but there is no wise old man here to explain it all to us. It brings up concepts and allows the characters and audience to interpret them on their own.

And a scary movie that makes you think (not just untangle some great knot of a storyline, but really think) is a pretty rare thing these days.

I know this isn't for everyone, but personally this one gets a 9 / 10.

1408 is rated PG-13 for thematic imagery, scary situations and language (including one effing strong word).


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