1408 (2007, dir. Mikael Hafstrom)
The first thing that I must say about this adaptation of a Stephen King short story is that I will NEVER listen to a Carpenters song the same ever. Specifically, I will never hear “We’ve Only Just Begun” the same as I did growing up. Such a cheery tune, optimistic about the future, and now it represents the existential abyss of pain and suffering, manifested into a tornado, or blizzard, or a firestorm, of unrelenting evil forces.
I’ve also read the short story this movie is based on, and while I find this movie has some truly unnerving moments to it, the story has a maniacal glee to it, almost perverse when finding new ways to torture the main character. But this movie’s central foe is not quite easy to pin down, nor should it be. To me, I see the room as a repository for negative energies, energies expended in service of death. Suicides, murders, seemingly all manners of suffering have befallen the inhabitants of the room. And as such it has developed a lore, a mystique about staying in the room for those brave souls who dare attempt such a feat.
The main protagonist is John Cusack’s debunker of urban legends and supernatural occurrences, Mike Enslin. And as he is a confirmed non-believer, possibly moved from agnostic to straight out denier of life after death in any way, he is interested in disproving the lore of the room, room 1408. Now, my Dad and I went to see this movie, not knowing anything about it other than it was adapted from a Stephen King short story. That’s it. I mean, we knew the cast, but that’s about it.
This is another movie that has moments that blur “reality” for the protagonist, where he might be dead, might have survived, or is just stuck in a desperate situation. There is a scene where the moment, the scene, the setting, the reality is literally torn down piece by piece. The scene began inside of a post office, with Cusack’s Enslin preparing to mail off his latest manuscript, seemingly escaped from room 1408, but the teardown reveals that he is back in the broken down room. It’s shit like that in movies that I love to see. I love to see and experience a sense of reality torn down, usually metaphorically, and sometimes literally. The rest of the movie doesn’t disappoint, in my opinion.