John Reviews 1408

1408-PosterYou know how sometimes nothing makes a GOOD meal taste even better than having a BAD meal just before it. It makes you appreciate the tastes, the flavors, the textures all the more because your previous negative experience makes you appreciate the good one you’re having now all the more. Well, watching a horror film like 1408 after watching garbage film like Hostel 2 is like that.

I’m a HUGE John Cusack fan. I can’t think of a single film of his off the top of my head that I didn’t think he was solid in (Grosse Pointe Blank is still one of my all time favorites) so I always look forward to any project he’s involved with (not that all his MOVIES are good… but he’s generally always strong in them).


The acting. This is basically a 1 man show. For the vast majority of the film the only character on screen is John Cusack and he is in one environment… room 1408. When your “space” is limited like that, you have to do 2 things. The first thing you have to do is get one hell of a performance out of your lead actor. John Cusack delivers that in spades. He’s so good in this film that he often makes you forget that he’s the only person on screen. He makes his own fear a tangible character that you almost think is there on screen with him. Which leads us to the second thing you need to make something like this work…

ATMOSPHERE. Holy crap, the job done by director Mikael Håfström (who also directed Derailed) in setting up mood and atmosphere in this flick is crazy. With nothing but a simple Hotel room, he is able to craft music, the performance of Cusack, camera work and dialog in such a way that a simple non-descript average looking hotel room becomes the creepiest place on earth.

Finally, another film that understands that what you DON’T see if often 10x more frightening that what you do see. Unlike Hostel 2, which has absolutely no scares or fear in the movie whatsoever… 1408 has you on the edge of your seat. You feel afraid… you feel anxiety… you FEEL. Unlike a Hostel 2 which just guns to gross you out with disgusting effects. They can have their place… but when a director understands WHEN to show you something… and even more importantly WHEN NOT to show you something, you end up getting a much creepier experience in the movie.


Honestly, and I love the man, but Samuel L. Jackson just didn’t do it for me in this film. Don’t misunderstand me… Jackson didn’t do anything wrong at all… he actually did pretty well. But when you really stop to think about the character, the more you can’t escape the feeling that Jackson just wasn’t the right guy for it. Besides, it’s not like Jackson don’t have 328 more movies coming out this year alone.

This is another thing that bothers me a bit. The film marketing advertise “Staring John Cusack and Samuel L Jackson”. The poster for the film is a giant close up of the two actors faces. But the reality is that Jackson has about 8 or 9 minutes of screen time… IF that much. He really is an inconsequential character. I know that’s not really a knock against the film itself, but it really bothers me when marketing misrepresents stuff like this


1408 is a wonderful, straightforward, brilliantly told simple story that does what a good horror film is supposed to do. Make you feel fear and has you on the edge of your seat. A fun movie to watch with minimal setting leaves it up to the story teller to drive the film… and he does. Not an all time classic film by any stretch of the imagination… but a solid night at the movies for certain. I give 1408 an 8.5 out of 10.

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