Wednesday, 29 August 2007

1408 - Review by Emma J. Lennox

Director: Mikael Hafstrom
Screenwriters: Matt Greenberg, Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski
Running Time: 94 mins
Certificate: 15
Released: August 31st

If you thought spending a few hours alone with John Cusack in a hotel room would be a nice experience, think again. 1408 is possibly the best Stephen King adaptation since 1999's The Green Mile, but all spook-o-metres are pointing back to the most successful King horror, The Shining. The real hotel used as the blood spouting phantasm in Stanley Kubrick's classic famously had the script changed to remove a room number for fear of losing business. There are several parallels to be drawn in this plot, which revolves around a hotel room so terrifying that the manager (Samuel L Jackson) refuses to rent it out. The door says 1408 (which adds up to 13, code busters!) and as Jackson promises, whilst sporting a Hannah -Barbera cartoon beard, it's “a fucking evil room”.

We have the trap and all the cheese you could want, all that's missing is an unsuspecting mouse and presumably because Most Haunted's Yvette Fielding was unavailable, John Cusack is the cynical, washed up novelist/ ghost investigator. Other than demonstrating an inability to suit any kind of head wear, Cusack puts in a solid performance of a man on the worst LSD trip in history as he takes on the unknown horrors of said room. The set up is all extremely conventional but this has the adverse effect of creating mounting anticipation; you know when things will get bad, you just don't know what they'll be (I was sure to keep an eye on that old painting with the creepy children.)
Director Mikael Hafstrom confidently builds the tension to unbearable levels and there were several occasions where I found myself flying into the air trying to restrain expletives but Hafstrom lacks the conviction to sustain the terror; most likely to keep the 15 rating. The inevitable resolution is disappointing and would have been better had Cusack ripped the head off a glowing ghoul to reveal the grumpy face of Samuel L Jackson, yet there is no doubt that this is an entertaining thrill that pushes all the right buttons.

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