Movie Review: 1408 (2007)

Synopsis: Still grieving the loss of his daughter, a once-promising author now travels around the country, staying in supposedly haunted hotels and writing about his experiences. When an anonymous post card warns him about room 1408 at a luxury hotel in New York, he decides to spend the night there, despite the room's long history of dying guests and the hotel manager's attempts to convince him otherwise.

Who's in it? The movie stars John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, Tony Shalhoub, Mary McCormack and Kate Walsh.

Synopsis: My wife and I came across this movie about a week ago but, not having time to watch it, decided to save it for another day. We wound up doing that last night and I have to say I was very impressed with it.

I will confess, when we started watching this movie, I did have some doubts about it. I've seen plenty of haunted room/haunted house films over the years and they tend to follow the same predictable format. This one, however, really surprised me.

One thing, in particular, I liked was how the room started out with subtle things, such as  radio turning itself on, a picture becoming crooked on the wall and a window slamming down on its own. While a little creepy, they were also things that could easily be explained away by other, worldly, causes, including someone trying to pull a prank. And, since Mike Enslin (Cusack) was a well-known skeptic, it would make sense for a hotel to try to trick him in an effort to gain more business.

Even as the movie progresses and things escalate, it is still unclear what is happening. The room really could be evil, as the hotel manager (Jackson) suggested. Or, he could simply be hallucinating or having a bad dream. As a result of that, and the way the room would occasionally reset itself, it was hard to tell what was real, what was in his head and even how much time had elapsed.

I must admit, the film also made good use of jump scares throughout. Normally, these have no effect on me because I can see them coming from a mile away. But, with this film, the apparitions did manage to catch me off guard on more than one occasion.

I liked the decision not to reveal why that particular room was as evil as it was and the motivations behind killing people or getting them to kill themselves. That mystery did help add to the overall creepiness. However, I wish it would have been a little more clear about who sent him the post card. Was it the manager? A fan? The hotel itself? It would have been nice to know if he was in that room purely by chance or if he was specifically targeted.

Final Opinion: This was a surprisingly good movie that managed to keep me on the edge of my seat more than I was expecting. I would recommend taking the time to watch it.

My Grade: A


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