1408 is a 2007 American psychological horror film based on the Stephen King 1999 short story of the same name directed by Swedish director Mikael HÃ¥fstrÃ¶m, who earlier had directed the horror film Drowning Ghost. The movie stars John Cusack, but also includes Samuel L. Jackson and Mary McCormack. The film was released in the U.S. on June 22, 2007, although July 13 is mentioned as the release date in the trailer posted on the website.
The film follows Mike Enslin, an author who specializes in the horror genre. Mike's career is essentially based on investigating allegedly haunted houses, although his repeatedly unfruitful studies have left him disillusioned and pessimistic. Through an anonymous warning (via postcard), Mike eventually learns of the Dolphin Hotel in New York City, which houses the infamous "Room 1408." Interested, yet skeptical, Mike decides to spend one night in the hotel although manager Olin (Jackson) warns him strongly against it. Mike has a series of bizarre experiences in the room.
Mike Enslin (John Cusack) is a cynical, skeptical author who, after the death of his daughter Katie (Jasmine Jessica Anthony), writes books appraising 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 forces the hotel to allow him to book a stay in the room, referring to a law that any hotel room in New York can be requested as long as it is up to standards. The hotel manager, Gerald Olin (Samuel L. Jackson) tries to dissuade Mike from checking into the room, explaining that 56 people have died in the room over the past 95 years, and that no one has lasted more than an hour inside it. Mike, who does not believe in the paranormal, insists on staying in the room, and asks Olin if he thinks it is haunted; Olin replies that it's not haunted; it's just an evil room.
Once inside the room, Mike records on his mini-cassette the room's dull appearance and its unimpressive lack of supernatural phenomena. During his examination, the clock radio suddenly starts playing "We've Only Just Begun", but Mike assumes this is a trick of Olin's. At 8:07, the song plays again and the clock's digital display changes to a countdown starting from "60:00". Mike begins to experience supernatural events, including the window slamming down on his hand, the hotel operator calling about food he didn't order, and spectral hallucinations of the room's past victims as well as of his family, particularly his daughter on the TV set. Mike's attempts to leave the room are in vain; the doorknob breaks off the door, climbing through the air ducts prompts an attack from the corpse of a former room victim, and climbing onto the window ledge reveals the windows of the other rooms are gone.
Mike uses his laptop to contact his estranged wife Lily (Mary McCormack), but the sprinkler system shorts out his laptop. The room temperature drops to subzero when the laptop suddenly begins to work again, and Lily tells him the police have entered 1408, but the room is empty. A doppelgÃ¤nger of Mike appears in the chat window and urges Lily to come to the hotel herself, giving Mike a diabolic smile. The room shakes violently and Mike breaks a picture of a ship in a storm, flooding the room. He surfaces on a beach, the result of a surfing accident seen earlier, and after returning to a normal life and reconciling with Lily, he assumes it was all a dream. Lily persuades him to write a book about it, but when visiting the post office to send the manuscript to his publisher, he recognizes a construction crew as the hotel staff, and they destroy the post office to reveal Mike is still trapped in 1408, the walls now burnt and broken. A vision of Katie appears to Mike, and after some reluctance, he embraces her before she crumbles to dust. Mike hears the clock radio begin to play and looks for it in the rubble, seeing it count down the final seconds. 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 again after the clock resets. When Mike begs to be released, she informs him that he can relive the hour over and over again, or use their "express checkout system;" Mike sees a hangman's noose and has a vision of himself hanged, but refuses. Mike uses a bottle of cognac he received from Olin to make a Molotov cocktail and sets the room on fire. The hotel is evacuated and Lily is prevented from entering. Mike then throws an ash tray at the window, causing a backdraft. Mike then lays upon the floor accepting death and covering his ears.
Per the original ending, we see Mike and Lily living in LA. They are unpacking her things as she moves about the house. Mike begins to think the entire affair was just a bad dream. He finds his tape recorder and rewinds it. When he presses play, we hear the scene when Katie found him in the hotel room. Lily stops what she's doing and they both realize that the ordeal was real.
In addition to the ending that appears in the theatrical release version, three other endings were shot. However, none of these four endings match the ending found in King's original short story.
Test audience ending #1
Director Mikael HÃ¥fstrÃ¶m has stated that the ending for 1408 was reshot because test audiences felt that the original ending was too much of a "downer". The original (alternate) ending, which did not make it to the final cut, saw Mike dying in the fire, but happy to see the room destroyed. During Mike's funeral, Olin approaches Lily and Mike's agent where he unsuccessfully attempts to give her a box of Mike's possessions, including the tape recorder. Before being cut off, 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, becoming visibly upset when he hears Katie's voice on the tape. He looks in the car mirror and sees a glimpse of Enslin's burnt corpse in the backseat. Olin places the tape recorder back in the box and drives off. The film ends at the gutted room, with an apparition of Mike looking out the window and smoking a cigarette. He hears his daughter calling his name, and disappears as he walks towards the room's door. A sound of a door closing is heard and the screen blacks out.
This alternate ending is the default ending on the Blu-ray release and two-disc collector's edition. Canadian networks Space and The Movie Network, as well as U.S. network FX, broadcast this version of the film; however, Space broadcast the original ending version on July 23, 2012. This ending is also used on the U.K. and Australian DVDs, and the U.S. iTunes and Netflix versions of the film. The incentive for filming three alternate endings was based on the director's belief that King's intention, in his original novel, was to leave the conclusion of his novel ambiguous.
Test audience ending #2
Another ending takes from both the aforementioned endings, as Mike dies in the fire, as per the original ending, and Olin is seen in his office chair saying, "Well done, Enslin. Well done." Then, instead of the funeral scene, we only hear a faint voice over of the funeral for a few seconds (to establish that Mike died) over establishing shots of LA, and then we find Lily in her LA residence sorting through Mike's boxes with Mike's agent, who says, "Well, at least he went out in a blaze," drawing a disapproving glance from Lily. Mike's agent offers to stay and help her but she tells him she'll be fine. The agent goes back to his New York office, sorting through his mail, and in his pile of mail he discovers the actual manuscript that Mike sent him about Room 1408 that Mike wrote when Mike thought he awoke from his dream. As the wide eyed agent reads the story, audio scene flashbacks are heard from Mike's tale and the movie ends with the agent's office doors slamming shut as Mike's father's voice echoes, "As I was, you are. As I am, you will be."
Test audience ending #3
In an alternate addition to the theatrical version ending, Mike is alive, living with Lily, as per the main ending, but when he plays the tape where he hears his daughter calling out to him, this time Lily continues working in the house, not hearing what Mike hears. And as he "hears" his daughter, as recorded from Room 1408, Mike closes his eyes and clutches the tape recorder to his chest, as if it is something special that only he can feel.
- John Cusack as 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
- 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 HÃ¥fstrÃ¶m 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 John 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.
1408 opened on June 22, 2007 to generally positive reviews. On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 78% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 170 reviews. On Metacritic, the film had an average score of 64 out of 100, based on 27 reviews.
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 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.
- List of adaptations of works by Stephen King
- List of ghost films
- 1408 at the Internet Movie Database
- 1408 at Rotten Tomatoes
- 1408 at Metacritic
- 1408 at AllMovie
- 1408 at Box Office Mojo