Saturday, July 07, 2007

1408 (Hafstrom, 2007)

You never know how a Stephen King story is going to translate to the big screen. I typically enjoy King's novels, novellas, and short stories, but when his literary work is worked into film you never know what you're going to get. I had no expectations going into this picture. I had only seen a trailer- no reviews, no outside opinions, just a short trailer that made me think there might be something there. Truth is, there is something to this movie, just not much. I like the concept of the cynical "ghost detective" writer (Cusack) just in the biz to make a buck. Jackson's character truly set-up a suspenseful scenario with room 1408 and the history of the "Dolphin Hotel". Twenty-five minutes in, everything was looking great. Forty minutes in, Cusack was scampering around the room during a faint, subtle flux of paranormal intrigue. Forty-one minutes in (I'm estimating, here, by the way) everything falls to pieces. Hafstrom made the decision that he would push the psychological effects of "1408" from light (but highly effective) illusion based camera effects to torrential sea storms (waves and all, literally). Then, just to ensure that there was no mistaking the films over-the-top approach to hotel phantoms, there is a blazing conflagration inside room "1408". It didn't work. I was impressed that the film didn't take the most blatant film-ending copout that has been so hot the last decade or so- the schizoid, this was only a dream/vision ending. It looked like it was headed that way, but thankfully there is actually a decent ending to an otherwise mediocre film. So here's a suggestion, if you ever rent, "1408": watch the beginning, until Cusack has been in the room 1408 for about ten minutes. Then go clean the bathroom, or mow the lawn, or clean your fish-bowl, then try and get back to see the last fifteen minutes. Trust me, you won't have missed anything if you follow this advice, and you can knock-out a movie and a dirty chore at the same time. That's efficiency.