Review: 1408 (2007)

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“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.

1408 mike researching and working

“Hotels are a naturally creepy place… Just think, how many people have slept in that bed before you? How many of them were sick? How many… died?” – Mike Enslin

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.

1408 olin and mike arguing

“I will let you have this, give you access to my office, you can take notes and put it all in your book. My only condition… is that you do not stay in that room.” – Gerald Olin

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.

1408 mike and the noose

“Why do you think people believe in ghosts? For fun? No. It’s the prospect of something after death.” – Gerald Olin

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.

Review: The Midnight Meat Train (2008)

2

“I’ve got a train to catch.”
– Leon Kaufmann

*MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS* 

So I was super amped for a grand piece of grotesque work. This film was based on a Clive Barker short story of the same title out of his collection Books of Blood. I was excited. He is old school horror. Got all geared up, popcorn, cold drink, candy, the works. I get comfortable, flip out the lights and I begin.

Leon (Bradley Cooper) is a photographer in New York trying to strike the big time. His girlfriend, Maya (Leslie Bibb), waitresses at a local diner. She makes a call to a mutual friend, Jurgis (Roger Bart) to introduce Leon to some of his “artsy” friends. Leon meets a lady who does not really appreciate his work, but recognizes that there is talent, and tells  him to capture the raw innards of the city.

midnight meat train fight

Unfortunately, this is where Leon’s life is ripped off of its normal little track and irrevocably changed. While hunting for those hard, perfect shots, he get sucked into what becomes a desperate chase for a serial killer, shrouded in crazy deep conspiracies. It drives him mad and consumes him, and the Subway Butcher (Vinnie Jones) becomes his obsession. Leon boards the train one night, and all his ghastly suspicions are confirmed in tenfold, not even he suspected the depth of it all.

Now, this movie was great to a certain degree. I liked the way everything had a waning, washout look to it, and it was all dark and demented, and they got the gore down properly. I was also intrigued of the notion of a butcher murdering at his leisure on a subway train (although I admit, I saw too many holes in this theory). Things were off to a good start, and then it just got insane. For instance, what the hell was the point of a rushed and jumbled ending? Why the heck was the conspiracy about the reptile-people not adequately explained?! I was horrified, and not in the way that I had wanted to be. So much potential just flushed away!

I reckon I can score The Midnight Meat Train 5/10 and still keep a clear conscience. It had a great concept that, unfortunately, was just completely overshadowed by the insanely lame ending. It does not even strike me as so much a horror anymore by the conslusion. I had to Google what the heck happened toward the end, and why he was given the specific mantle of chef, but yeah, it is still not kicking it for me like I had hoped. It had so much potential to be so much more. There was gore, there was blood, there was mystery, there was some creepy aspects and it was all getting along just fine. I thought it was great stuff. But then that ending happened, and brought my whole experience crashing down around me!

Review: Mary and Max (2009)

4

“Max hoped Mary would write again. He’d always wanted a friend. A friend that wasn’t invisible, a pet or rubber figurine.”
– The Narrator

This is a movie that I saw a while ago and I thought was absolutely delightful. I enjoyed it so much. It spoke to something inside of me.

Mary and Max is an Autralian claymation directed by Adam Elliot. It is the beautiful story of the two most unlikely pen pals that could ever be: Max Horowitz, an anxious and obese Jew in New York City and Mary Dinkle, a friendless eight year old girl in Australia. One fateful day, Mary rips Max’s address from a phone book and writes to him with questions and includes a chocolate bar. Thus a twenty year correspondence friendship of the deepest kind began, which survived the ups and downs of life, severe depression, major differences and ridiculous misunderstandings.

I thought overall it was an exceptionally sweet tale of friendship cropping up in the most unlikely places and between the most improbable of people, but that sometimes you need to take a chance. It is so amazing to have someone to share things with, and sadly it is something that happens to seldom. Very few people have found someone that will truly be there for decades, and share everything with you.

The film was also quite amusing, and had a few places where I had a good laugh. Overall, it was an extremely adorable movie, the type you could watch with friends, family and/or children. It also carried stunning themes throughout the film, such as alienation, being teased and bullied, neglect at home, insecurity, fending for yourself, weight issues, and most importantly, friendship, and how it can make things much easier.

I would score Mary and Max 7/10. It was refreshing to see something presented a little differently from your average tale of companionship, and I think it was executed very well. I particularly enjoyed the way in which the claymation was done, and the colours used to depict the story.