Tuesday, 30 October 2012

31 Days Of Horror - Day 30: 1408 (2007)

A man who specializes in debunking paranormal occurrences checks into the fabled room 1408 in the Dolphin Hotel. Soon after settling in, he confronts genuine terror.

A film based on a Stephen King short story is never an easy thing to make, some have become classics and some are best forgotten. "1408" is not the latter.

I remember getting really excited about this release, it's no secret I'm a big King fan. I was in the theatre on it's release date and whilst waiting for the film to start my excitement suddenly dived when I started to remember the bad films that have been made based on his work. That fear, although understandable, was not needed.

The story this film was based on was almost never written. Stephen King originally created the first few pages of "1408" for his non-fiction book, "On Writing," as an example of how to revise a first draft. The story intrigued him so much he wound up not only finishing a complete draft, but adapting it for an audio-book compilation of short stories.

John Cusack, who plays our main character ,"Mike Enslin", does carry the movie almost by himself. The film essentially becomes a one-man show. Cusack is not to everybody's tastes but he does such a good job here, he convincingly acts out his character without going to far or to hammy which he can be known to do.

Despite how the poster looks Samuel L. Jackson is not in the film as much as you may think but his small role is an essential one as it fuels the fire for Cusack's character, his character builds up the high anticipation for what's in-store for us all in room 1408. His role maybe small but he does pull it off as effectively as he always does, well he is Samuel L. Jackson so what else do you expect?!

If you like your films chilling and filled with suspense then "1408" is the film for you. I absolutely love it and it never gets boring upon multiple viewings, I hold the film in high regard but I do warn you it can be hard for some to keep up with it's many twists and turns.

If you want to see the "1408" trailer then just click on the video below:

Miscellaneous facts about the film:

Kate Walsh was originally cast in this film, but was forced to drop out due to scheduling conflicts with the television show Grey's Anatomy. She was replaced by Mary McCormack.

There are many references to the number "13" throughout the movie. The room is numbered "1408", add each number together equals 13. The room is on the 14th floor, and the Hotel skips the 13th floor, so the room is technically on the 13th floor. The room's key lock also has "6214" etched into it, which adds up to 13. And the first death was in the year 1912, which adds to 13. The hotel is mentioned to be at 2254 Lexington Street in New York City. 2254 adds up to 13, Even the film's American release date sums to 13: June 22, 2007.

One of the first victims of the room was named "Grady." Grady was a character in "The Shining," Stephen King's other horror story about a hotel.

At one point in the movie Mike wears a hat that says "Paranoia is total awareness". This is a nod to one of Stephen King's favourite quotes, "Perfect paranoia is perfect awareness".

When the clock starts counting down from 60:00, the movie ends exactly one hour later.

The axe the fireman uses to break down the hotel door at the end of the movie is the same axe that Jack Nicholson used in The Shining (both movies were also shot at the same studio - Elstree, in London)

Towards the beginning of his stay in room 1408, Mike mentions that "some smart-ass" once wrote about the 'banality of evil.' The smart-ass in question is German political theorist and intellectual Hannah Arendt, who wrote about the 'banality of evil' in her essay "Eichmann in Jerusalem."

While addressing his audience at the book signing, Mike says, "Stay scared." This is a phrase traditionally used by director George A. Romero, a friend of Stephen King's. Romero has said this at numerous conventions and often uses it as part of his signature.

Mike Enslin has a Chicago White Sox hat. Chicago is John Cusack's home town. Also, in a previous film, Eight Men Out, Cusack portrayed White Sox third-baseman George "Buck" Weaver. Cusack himself is a both a devoted Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox fan. He has said so in numerous interviews.

The initial story inspiration for 1408 came from a collection of real-life news stories about parapsychologist Christopher Chacon's investigation of a notoriously haunted room at the famous Hotel Del Coronado in Coronado, CA, as well as another undisclosed hotel on the East Coast.

In the movie John Cusack's character says to his recorder, "hotel rooms are just naturally creepy places, don't you think? I mean How many people have slept in that bed before you? How many of them were sick? How many were losing their minds?" Stephen King wrote this in his explanatory note of 1408 in his compilation book of short stories.

Enslin, while looking at the book of the murders, unknowingly, circles the 14th floor and ends up back at the elevator he got off. The classical music that is playing in the elevator was featured in the beginning of "Father's Day", the first segment which was part of the anthology collection Creepshow. The screenplay for that film was written by Stephen King and the segment after "Father's Day" featured, as the lead, none other than Stephen King himself.

John Cusack's second appearance in a Stephen King film adaptation. The first was Stand by Me.

The bottle that Gerald Olin offers Mike Enslin is named "Les Cinquant Sept Décès". In French, it means literally "The fifty seven deaths". And just after that we learn that in the room 1408 there were 56 deaths. So we could have guessed that Mike's fate was "written".

Mary McCormack was pregnant throughout filming, explaining why most shots of her are filmed above the waist.

As Enslin is walking to 1408, reading the files Olin gave him, he comes across a page that says "My brother was eaten by wolves on the Connecticut Turnpike." This is a reference to King's short story. As Enslin loses his mind in the room, that is the last intelligible thing he says to his tape recorder. His brother actually died of lung cancer.

Keanu Reeves was attached for playing lead role in the movie.

In its standard edition, the DVD runtime is exactly 104 min and 8 sec, referring directly to the movie title. This also makes the DVD stop playing at precisely 1:44:08, again referring to the title.

When he picks up the phone towards the end of the movie they say "this is 5" then "this is 8" - which adds up to 13.

Mike opens the room's Bible at random to Chapter 11 of Samuel 2; 11 and 2 equal 13. (Not to mention that book sharing its name with Samuel L. Jackson.) Also--though it may be pure coincidence--the 13th verse of this same chapter is a close analogy to Mr. Olin's dealings with Mike: "At David's invitation, he [Uriah] ate and drank with him, and David made him drunk. But in the evening Uriah went out to sleep on his mat among his master's servants; he did not go home." (New International Version.) This is part of the famous story of how King David sent Uriah out to die in battle so that he could marry Uriah's wife Bathsheeba. Olin's last line in the film implies a similar duplicity.

The scene in which Mike climbs across the ledge within the film as a means of escape could be a reference to another of Stephen King's short stories, 'The Ledge' (1978) in which a man must circumnavigate a high ledge in order to win a 'bet'.

Max Von Sydow was offered a cameo role.

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