New Movie Review: 1408 (2007)

"Do not enter Room 1408", Tell that to Mike Enslin (played by John Cusack) is like forbid Loic LeFerme to perform extreme sport feat of "no-limit" free diving or stop Homer Simpsons from eating donuts. Anyway, despite fervent warned by the hotel manager - Gerald Olin. Gerald even bluntly told Mike the reason is, he don't want to clean up another bloody mess after grisly suicide incidents, which had claimed over 50 lives since the opening of Dolphin Hotel.

But Mike is no ordinary hotel guest, we are told through flashback that he has a grievous past (He lost his daughter) before he became a paranormal phenomenon debunker cum writer who offer trashy reading thrill to his readers, by writing "10 Nights in Haunted Hotels" (Something similar to our neighbouring Singaporean, Russell Lee who is the author of famous " Singapore's True Ghost Stories" series of books). He stays from one to another so-called haunted hotel rooms/inn to record and rate them for their spookiness.

As you all may know, this movie is Stephen King's short stories adaptation. basically the whole movie is set in this room, it is a one man show from John Cusack, just him versus the evil room, and oh not forgetting some CGI as well. Once Mike check in to room 1408, SowYau had prepared himself for the worse things could happen to Mike, how he will survive the night of terror. Prior to this, we were told how the previous occupants took their own lives, some jump off the building, one drown on his own chicken soup, another slashed his wrist and then try to sown it back all because of him being a tailor, another incident involving a maid survived but gouged her own eyes out laughing hysterically..... We know about the room's dreadful history, but we do not know why the room itself is evil.

Now here's the revelation: This room is capable of tormenting people who stay there, drive them to the verge of madness and take their own life. Witness how the room dig into Mike's past, his estranged, late father appeared before his eyes, there's something about his daughter's death as well..... By the time Mike realized this could be his last ever chapter in his book, the room refused to let him out. The wall is bleeding, Is it hallucinations? The sudden appear of chocolates at his bed, is it really happen? Mike watched the replay scenes (ala The Ring's Sadako visual style) of previous suicidal occupants on his way "out". Not to mention the possessed clock radio who played "We Have Only Just Begun" by The Carpenters will change the song's perception forever once you walk out from the cinema. A spine chilling moment scare the shit out of SowYau. Wait, there's more to come, for people who suffer acrophobia, (even SowYau do not has) will feel extreme agony over the scene of Mike hanging on the building's ledge when he tried to climb out of the window.

No one has ever stay alive in that room for more than an hour, if they manage to withstand all the delusions created by the rooms, they will be treated with endless terror of one hour loop until they surrendered and take their own life. That is how all the previous occupants did. Room 1408 even has the guts to inform Mike through intercom/phone that: he can choose to repeat this hour over and over again, or he can take advantage of hotel's so called express checkout system AKA kill himself! Did Mike succeeding in overcome the loop? SowYau think he did make it out, but the dubious ending suggested otherwise as well, *cough* *cough* dictaphone *cough* (enough hint already!)

The problem with 1408 is, once the movie venture into conventional horror movie territory, it all starting to fall into familiar sight, cheap scare tactic: sudden loud music accompanied by scary spirits, unneccessary fake ending, SowYau felt it contains too many moments of: Is it really happen or is it a delusion kind of things.

It is definitely not The Shining 2007 but a good psychological horror movie nonetheless. No gore and very little blood involved. The startling exchange words between the hotel manager (played by Samuel L Jackson) and John Cusack fueling by the unnerving description of previous deaths in Room 1408 is the pivotal scene. No doubt, John Cusack has a tour de force performance here, we saw him succumb slowly from paranoia to insanity, and how heart rending he was to lose his daughter for the second time.