This was a frustrating film for me because I really wanted to enjoy it and yet it fell short in so many areas.
1408 follows an author who is writing books about the most haunted places around the world. He is invited one day to spend a night at the infamous room 1408 in a hotel in New York but when he gets there the staff do not want him to stay there and shows him case studies of reasons why he shouldn’t based on the outcomes of the other people that made that choice.
Undeterred however the author decided to stay in the room and soon realises that the room is a lot worse than he could have ever imagined, including seeing apparitions of the previous occupants committing suicide, as well as the temperature changing through a faulty air conditioning system so that he becomes deathly hot and deathly cold, plus the fact there are even monsters trying to attack him just for being in the room.
As the film progresses you start to wonder whether this is actually all happening or whether it is all inside the man’s head, especially as there are many twists in the end which could draw you to either conclusion. This film, while it’s very open-ended in the whole did he experience this or did he not, also has a twist that basically makes it a dream, it’s all a fantasy in this man’s head and that completely ruined any attention I had for the film. If it was just a dream then why should I care what this man is going through when it’s not really happening? And why is that such an easy cop out?
I also found it frustrating that at start you think of spectres and ghosts and ghouls that are haunting this man and because they are ghosts you cannot see them which adds this extra tension. The buildup was fantastic, the build up was the best part of this film because I have never felt so tense watching a man stay in a hotel room before. However once you were past that build up the rest of it just lost its excitement because all of a sudden you’ve gone from tense silence and musical cues, plus really clever storytelling, to suddenly everything being thrown at you and it really losing its impact.
I have this love-hate relationship with Stephen King and I’m not sure if it’s the novels they take the inspiration from or the filmmakers who adapted them to the screen, but with Misery I absolutely loved that film, I thought the metaphors in it were incredible and the storytelling was fantastic. However in The Shining I could not get into it I found it quite underwhelming. it didn’t excite me so much so that I read the book to see if the book was better than the film, which in some ways it was because I actually managed to finish it and enjoy it. And with this film I have the same issue in that I really like the build up and I really like the first act, but as we get more into the story it goes off a rail that I didn’t enjoy and it never found its purpose again. I wonder if I did read the book version would it go down a similar route and have the same issues that I found with the screen, or, much like The Shining, would I find it more enjoyable?
If you enjoy a bit of crazy art house style horror movies then maybe you’d enjoy this because it is quite entertaining to begin with, it just unfortunately falls off towards the end for me. I don’t want to put you off watching if you want to give it a go because it is a interesting tale, however I do think it could have been made better, and I do wonder is it worth me reading the book to see the similarities and differences and whether it’s the film that has the problem or its original text that is the issue.
What do you think of 1408?
Until next time.
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