1408 is a 2007 American psychological horror film based on Stephen King's 1999 short story of the same name. It is directed by Mikael Håfström and stars John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson. The film was released in the United States on June 22, 2007, although July 13 (which in 2007 fell on a Friday) is mentioned as the release date on the website.
|Directed by||Mikael Håfström|
by Stephen King
|Produced by||Lorenzo di Bonaventura|
|Edited by||Peter Boyle|
|Music by||Gabriel Yared|
|Distributed by||The Weinstein Company|
|Box office||$133 million|
The film follows Mike Enslin, an author who investigates allegedly haunted houses and rents the titular room 1408 at a New York City hotel. Although skeptical of the paranormal, he is soon trapped in the room where he experiences bizarre events. Reviews were mostly positive and the film performed positively at the box office.
This section's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (July 2020)
Michael "Mike" Enslin is a cynical, skeptical author who is estranged from his wife Lily after the death of their daughter Katie. Mike writes niche books evaluating supernatural events in which he has no belief. After his latest book, he receives an anonymous postcard depicting The Dolphin, a hotel on Lexington Avenue in New York City bearing the message, "Don't enter 1408." Viewing this as a challenge, Mike arrives at The Dolphin and requests room 1408.
The hotel manager, Gerald Olin, attempts to discourage him. He explains to Mike that in the last 95 years, no one has lasted more than an hour inside of Room 1408; the latest count is 56 deaths. Olin attempts to dissuade and bribe Mike, but Mike insists, threatening legal action against the hotel, so preparations are reluctantly made.
Inside the room, Mike describes on his mini-cassette recorder the room's boring appearance and lack of supernatural behavior. The clock radio suddenly starts playing "We've Only Just Begun", a hit song by The Carpenters and the digital display changes to a countdown starting from "60:00." Mike begins to see ghosts of the room's past victims, followed by flashbacks of Katie and his sick father. Mike tries to leave, but all attempts are in vain.
Mike uses his laptop to contact Lily, asking for help, but the sprinkler system short circuits his laptop. The room temperature drops to subzero when the laptop suddenly begins to work again. A doppelgänger of Mike appears in a video chat window and urges Lily to come to the hotel room herself; it gives Mike a sly wink. The room shakes violently and Mike breaks a picture of a ship in a storm. Water pours from the broken picture, flooding the room. He surfaces on a beach and relives a surfing accident seen earlier in the film. His life continues from this point, and he reconciles with Lily.
Assuming his experience in 1408 was just a nightmare, Lily encourages him to write a book about it. When visiting the post office to send the manuscript to his publisher, he recognizes members of a construction crew as Dolphin Hotel staff. The employees then destroy the post office's walls, revealing that Mike is still trapped in the rubble of 1408. Katie's ghost confronts him, and when the countdown ends, the room is suddenly restored to normal, and the clock radio resets itself to 60:00.
The "hotel operator" calls Mike. Mike asks why he hasn't been killed yet and she informs him that guests enjoy free will: he can relive the past hour over and over again, or use their "express checkout system". A hangman's noose appears, but he refuses to give in. Deciding to quit running, Mike improvises a Molotov cocktail and sets the room on fire. The hotel is evacuated. After smoking a cigarette, Mike breaks a window, causing a backdraft. He then lies down and laughs in victory upon destroying the room. Olin, in his office, praises Mike for his actions.
There are three endings to this film. In addition to the ending that appears in the theatrical release (also the default ending of the DVD), two other alternate endings were shot. The incentive for this was based on the director's belief that King's intention, in his original short story, was to leave the conclusion ambiguous. None of the three endings match the ending of King's original short story.
This one is the default ending of the theatrical release and its theatrical release DVD.
Mike survives, and he and Lily reconcile, though Lily is skeptical of his experience. She finds a box of Mike's possessions that were rescued from 1408 and Mike takes the damaged mini-cassette recorder from it, saying, "Sometimes you can't get rid of bad memories. You've just got to live with them." Mike briefly tampers with the recorder, making it work again. Suddenly, they hear Katie's voice coming from it, confirming Mike's account.
Director Mikael Håfström said that the ending for 1408 was reshot because test audiences felt that the original ending was too much of a "downer." This first alternative ending was used in the theatrical release.
The original discarded ending had Mike dying in the fire, but happy to see the room destroyed. During Mike's funeral, Olin approaches Lily and Mike's publisher Sam Farrell. He unsuccessfully attempts to give her a box of Mike's possessions, including the tape recorder. Olin claims that the room was successfully destroyed and that it will no longer hurt anyone else. He later listens to the recording in his car, and becomes upset when he hears Katie's voice on the tape. He sees a little girl walking on the cemetery grass behind the car, in a dress, calling out as if she is lost. He then sees Mike's burnt corpse in the backseat. Then he sees the same girl holding hands with her father as they walk away. Olin places the tape recorder back in the box and drives off. The final scene is of the gutted room, where an apparition of Mike looks out the window while smoking a cigarette. He hears his daughter calling for him, and disappears as he walks towards the door. A door is heard closing and the scene fades.
This ending is the default ending on the Blu-ray release and two-disc collector's edition. Canadian networks Space and The Movie Network, and U.S. network FX broadcast this version of the film, but Space broadcast the theatrical ending on July 23, 2012. This ending is also used on the U.K. and Australian DVDs, and the U.S. iTunes, Netflix and Amazon Prime versions of the film.
Mike dies in the fire. Instead of the funeral scene from the director's cut, the sounds of a funeral are dubbed over shots of Los Angeles. Lily and Sam sort through Mike's effects. Sam returns to his New York office and discovers the manuscript that Mike wrote while he was in room 1408. As Sam reads the story, audio from Mike's experiences in the room is heard. In a final scene, Sam's office doors slam shut and Mike's father's voice says, "As I was, you are. As I am, you will be."
In yet another version Mike and Lilly are in an apartment sometime later as Mike finishes the manuscript. The opening to this scene explains that Katie had saved him. Lily wants to destroy his dictaphone as it smells of smoke. Mike says no and plays the tape which, as with the theatrical version, has both Mike's and Katie's voice. Lilly drops the boxes she is holding as she too hears the voices.
- John Cusack as Michael "Mike" Enslin
- Samuel L. Jackson as Gerald Olin
- Mary McCormack as Lily Enslin
- Tony Shalhoub as Sam Farrell
- Len Cariou as Mike's father
- Jasmine Jessica Anthony as Katie Enslin
- Isiah Whitlock Jr. as Hotel Engineer
- Kim Thomson as Hotel Desk Clerk
- Benny Urquidez as Claw Hammer Maniac
- Angel Oquendo as Taxi Cab Driver
- Andrew-Lee Potts as Mailbox Guy
- Jules de Jongh as the Female Front-Desk Voice on the Phone (Uncredited)
In November 2003 and 2004, Dimension Films optioned the rights to the 1999 short story "1408" by Stephen King. The studio hired screenwriter Matt Greenberg to adapt the story into a screenplay. In October 2005, Mikael Håfström was hired to direct 1408, with the screenplay being rewritten by screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski. In March 2006, actor John Cusack was cast to star in the film, joined by actor Samuel L. Jackson the following April. In July, actress Kate Walsh was cast to star opposite Cusack as the protagonist's ex-wife, but she was forced to exit in August due to scheduling conflicts with her role on Grey's Anatomy. She was replaced by actress Mary McCormack. According to Cusack, the Roosevelt Hotel in New York was used for some of the exterior shots of the Dolphin. The lobby scenes were filmed at the Reform Club in London.
On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 79% based on 175 reviews, with an average rating of 6.70/10. The site's critical consensus reads "Relying on psychological tension rather than overt violence and gore, 1408 is a genuinely creepy thriller with a strong lead performance by John Cusack." On Metacritic, the film had an average score of 64 out of 100, based on 27 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B-" on an A+ to F scale.
James Berardinelli awarded the film three stars out of four, praising it as "the best horror film of the year." He offered significant praise for Cusack's performance as Mike Enslin, writing that "this is John Cusack's movie to carry, and he has no problem taking it where it needs to go." He found the film to be a refreshing experience, believing it "reminds us what it's like to be scared in a theater rather than overwhelmed by buckets of blood and gore". Many critics believed the film to be far superior to other adaptations of Stephen King novels and stories. Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote a very positive review, describing the film as "one of the good Stephen King adaptations, one that maintains its author's sly sense of humor and satiric view of human nature". He ultimately believed the film to be a "more genuinely scary movie than most horror films".
Several critics, however, found the film to be underwhelming. Wesley Morris of The Boston Globe wrote a mixed review, describing the film as "a lot of consonants and no vowels." He went on to compare the film unfavorably to The Shining, a similar King adaptation, believing 1408 lacked that film's "lunging horror and dramatic architecture." Although he believed the film "conjures a wonderful anticipatory mood of dread in the first 30 minutes," he ultimately believed the film "then blows it to stylish smithereens". Rob Salem of the Toronto Star awarded the film two stars out of four, believing it to be a predictable, "hit and miss" production. Like Morris, Salem wrote that "Even as haunted hotel King movies go, 1408 is certainly no Shining. Not even the TV-movie version."
In its opening weekend, the film opened in second place at the box office, grossing US$20.6 million in 2,678 theaters. 1408 had a production budget of US$25 million. The film went on to gross US$132 million, of which US$71.9 million was from Canada and the United States.
The DVD was released on October 2, 2007 by Genius Products with a standard 1-Disc Edition (widescreen or fullscreen), and a 2-Disc Collector's Edition that contains both versions of the ending and an unrated edition of the film which restored 6 more minutes of the film.
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