Does the movie based off of a Stephen King story, 1408, go beyond being a spooky version of Jumanji? Actually it is more contained in some ways , but psychologically…let’s just see if it entertains; alas, the review:
1408 was directed by Mikael Hafstrom, a Swedish man in origins, and his last American filmed piece was the thriller Derailed. This time around he has John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson as his cast for a horror story involving what is either a haunted room or else an evil mind trip; or both.
Cusack’s character grows on you just fine, but to enjoy this movie you are going to have to like him personally as an actor, because John has the weight of the film firmly on his shoulders. If you are a Cusack fan you should love his performance, he pulls out all of the emotional stops. However if you do not…no…wait…everyone likes John Cusack. Samuel L. Jackson comes in for a smaller role, albeit an important one, and he is given his obligatory Samuel L. Jackson moment which is always a crowd pleasing F-bomb. The rest of the supporting cast don’t have too much to do, but they do it well enough.
I was worried that this movie was going to be pulling another one of those tired Sixth Sense twists and not to ruin your guessing game early in the film, but no plot recycling here, at least not in that particular aspect. The movie seems like it might have been a lot of destructive fun to make, at least for those who got to smash things instead of build them; great one room set of horrors. However, at the same time, after so many events, one on top of the other, you come close to the danger of just seeing this as a one man Cusack show on a small stage. Cusack is brilliant, but I didn’t come for a play, nor recited Stephen King lines; King makes me sleepy. Eventually I was able to let those thoughts slide away, along with the Jumanji comparisons because this sure isn’t a game; or is it? Muwhahahaha.
The special effects are masterfully weaved around with the camera, kudos to the crew and director for the most part, though: get real with that skeleton in the air vent thing! Looked like a decrepit Jim Henson puppet; hey now, don’t be stealing my ideas for a sequel and have a puppet haunted by the ghost of Jim Henson! This isn’t the type of film being set up for a sequel, it s more intelligent than that. The ending was quite satisfying and there are two alternate ones on the Dvd; one of which is quite interesting and the other just a smaller tweak of the one attached to the main film. Actually if someone wanted to make a sequel they could, always can, but that would be a waste of our time.
Overall, Cusack’s character arc was enjoyable, the movie itself comes close to being just a repetitive haunted house gag, yet in the end it pulls through well enough to justify putting down some rental money. A real nice treat for the housewives who enjoy CSI, but stay away from most gory horror, plenty of crime photos and no blunt force machete to the head techniques relied on here; a psychological spook-fest…like Jumanji.