1408 Mikael Håfström

1408 Mikael Håfström
Ah, Stephen King adaptations, they can go so wrong (Sleepwalkers) or so right (Misery). Or they can just go, which is what 1408 does. It runs with King’s briefest of shorts, puffing it out into a full-fledged Cusack indulgence vehicle. It’s not a bad film, nor particularly good, but it certainly happens and someone out there thinks it happens well enough to warrant a two-disc special edition. John Cusack is Mike Enslin, a writer/ghostbuster who travels to haunted rooms to debunk or verify their alleged supernatural activity. Upon receiving a postcard telling him to stay away from room 1408 at the Dolphin Hotel, Enslin, of course, immediately tries to book the room. Enter Samuel L. Jackson as the crypt keeper, I mean, hotel manager, who warns Enslin of the room’s horrific history, urging him to stay away, all the while building the room’s mystique. What follows is supposed to be a demonstration of the banality of evil, with the simple setting of an average hotel room the root of terrible psychological menace. Perhaps they took that set up too far; I think King only intended the room to be blatantly familiar and mundane, not the entire story. As it is, the special effects of the room are largely the most interesting part of the film. The special features reveal the great pains taken to keep the changes to the room physical, actually tilting the whole set with a crane (sadly this effective perspective is in a deleted scene), building 11 different versions of the room and dunking the whole set in an underwater tank. The "making of” features are informative but the deleted scenes and commentary track are rather boring. The alternate ending for the director’s cut is far more effective, posing all the same questions but adding much emotional depth. Too bad they catered so much to test screenings. (Alliance Films)