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1408 (2007)

Short story by Stephen King Written by Scott Alexander, Matt Greenberg & Larry Karaszewski Directed by Mikael Håfström

While meeting our protagonist amid riffling through his usual mail, full of invitations of what was presumed the scary place to be, Mike Enslin (John Cusack) came across a postcard from The Dolphin Hotel merely stating ‘Don’t Enter 1408.’ Though mildly intrigued by the tactic, called ahead to make a reservation when is stopped short to inform of the unavailability, despite leaving out a particular date wishing to stay. Something his Agent and lawyer held no qualms over fixing as the Hotel had no such right to keep him out if in fact an unoccupied room. Yet even brought before General Manager Gerald Olin (Samuel L. Jackson) in a last attempt to sway his decision. Unsuccessfully bribed with an eight hundred-dollar bottle of Les Cinquant Sept Deces (translating to 57 deaths; a forebode in the Director’s cut). As Michael was well versed on the tragedies having occurred, despite an unawareness of the otherwise ‘natural’ deaths having taken place. Olin ultimately trying to express how it wasn’t a particular entity that possessed the room but rather something that used the baggage brought in against yourself to simply be one, “evil fucking room.”

However not entirely impressed with the room at first, confiding within a recorder of which knew him better than most people those days. The decor, nothing special though an aura surly weighed heavy on the room. Small antics ensuing as The Carpenters “Only Just Begun” ensures that never again will I hear it without getting the heebie jeebies. “Nobody last more than an hour.” Mike’s demeanor quickly changing though his decision made far too late by now. The echo of his daughter’s voice ushering real terror as he’s forced to relive the time he and wife Lily (Mary McCormack) had before losing her at such a young age. Also put before his father whose only preamble was that he seemed like “one son of a bitch.” Left unable to break free from the strange events taking place around him yet coming to understand what needed to be done in order to defeat the room. (Burn that mutha’ to the ground!)

Originally the short story was something Stephen King used for an example in his book On Writing, with not much intention on finishing what was had, though eventually enticing him. Further explaining that every writer should (at one point) explore the realm of a ghastly room within a Hotel-type setting. Genuinely eerie if putting enough thought into such. Despite King’s finished tale focusing more on the before and after of the character the room, the film really took its time to linger on who Mike Enslin was as a person. His struggles with isolation and the perverse humor that underlined his books consisting of pseudo top ten list of where “ghoulies and ghosties and long leggety beasties,” could all be found. Ultimately making it out in the narration (tho badly burned) with clear indications of scarring for the foreseeable future, both literal and figuratively.

An array of special features (including a few postcards from The Dolphin Hotel) showcase the immense work John Cusack ended up performing within the room. Endearing several elements such as snow, rain and the complete misconstruction of the room itself at one point. Being just as important to let the room stand out as its main character while pitted against Mike Enslin (a worthy adversary). Both John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson initially choices that I wasn’t sure would fit into this type of environment. Despite being a fan, there was a certain demeanor I was almost surprised to see them both slip into effortlessly. Usually known for his outlandish antics, Jackson was more than able to set the ominous tones while keeping up with the sarcastic nature of which Cusack has carried in his career over the years.

More a fan of the psychological aspect to this film, I enjoyed seeing how far ones baggage could take someone once manifesting into a life of its own. What kind of power must be given over to such thoughts to have them construct in a way never imagined before. Granted we may never encounter rooms of which can conjure up such-but what if we did, what would ours look like? Receiving two very different versions of the film should you pick up the Director’s Cut (and you should) which are both satisfying in their own ways. Whereas the theatrical release shows him reunited with Lily in the end (able to hear his daughter’s voice on the recorder), the Director’s cut has Olin arriving at Mike’s funeral to offer Lily the last of her husband’s belongings. Basically stating that he had won as the room would no longer open before panning to the Hotel to see his ghost reunited with their daughter. A pick your poison perhaps with how you choose to see the story end however far superior in creating that disillusioned tale of how far you’re willing to let your faith take you and what becomes of the unresolved past you leave out to fester.