“They say you can’t die in your dreams… is that true?”
– Mike Enslin
Mike Enslin (John Cusack) is a washout author of true supernatural events. Since his daughter Katie’s (Jasmine Jessica Anthony) death and split from his wife Lily (Mary McCormack) he has become rather embittered and disenchanted with the world. He does not believe in hauntings, etc. though he makes his bread and butter from it. While on a book signing tour, he received a postcard titillating about room 1408 at The Dolphin, a hotel in New York City. Naturally Mike moves on to go and see what is so “haunted” about this hotel. Nobody wants to give him a room, and eventually Mike resorts to quoting the law. Gerald Olin (Samuel L Jackson) is the hotel manager, and tries his best to dissuade Mike from staying in 1408. Mike has done his research, and knows that some strange things have happened here, but is unconvinced of its authenticity.
Olin really makes things difficult for Mike, and Mike is sure that Olin is only hyping the place up, and ultimately makes the decision to stay in 1408, no matter what Olin has to say. Olin tells Mike that fifty six people have died in 1408 over the past ninety five years, and that most of them couldn’t even survive their first hour. Olin has done all he can to warn Mike off, and takes Mike up to the floor when Mike continually insists that there is nothing up there, that the paranormal does not exist. Mike enters the room and starts recording his findings on his little cassette player, making jokes and mockeries. The room is dull and mediocre, leading Mike to believe that there really is a ridiculous hype over nothing, just a ploy to bring in more customers.
Soon, though, things start to go wrong. Little things, nothing too major, and Mike is convinced that someone is playing with him, holding Olin accountable for the trickery. The digital clock in the room later flicks to “60:00”, and Mike finds it humourous that he has a timer now to count down whether or not he can brave an hour. However, it soon turns out that something may very well be wrong with the room, and Mike can no longer disregard the obviously supernatural occurrences surrounding him. Spectral hallucinations take the front and centre and terrible nightmarish thought occur to him. Mike has also found that he cannot leave the room, and desperately tries to contact Lily, his estranged wife.
Is 1408 truly haunted? Will Olin come to Mike’s aid, even after making it abundantly clear that he would not be involved with whatever happened? Will Mike survive his hour? Will he go on to write a book with a fresh finesse now that he has experienced something so blatantly supernatural? Does Mike now believe in the paranormal he has for so long refuted?
I would score 1408 a 7/10. I actually enjoyed this movie up until the point where it got messy, but it went ahead and recovered itself, too, so it has a saving grace. Gotta say though the poster is utter rubbish. John Cusack played Mike Enslin so well – cocky, tired of life, and dispirited. Samuel L Jackson was quite entertaining as the hotel manager and gives a few laughs, as well as sets the tone for the formidable and sinister which he believes to reside in room 1408. Enslin’s total disregard for what could happen in there is what lends credibility to the events that do transpire. I thought it was well done when he walked through the rooms and it flashed the victims at their relevant places. The film was progressing just fine, and when things started going faulty in 1408 I could deal with it too. It was all good. But then it was sort of like it lost the plot halfway through, too much messed up and creepy tried to be squashed in, making it nothing short of overly annoying and slightly comical. The film does redeem itself, shockingly, towards the last quarter and manages to keep in with a good pace for the remainder of the duration and settled on a decent conclusion for the tale it told. All in all it was a lot of fun for what it was.