Sunday, September 23, 2007

1408 - DVD release October 2nd!

Just in time for the season of ghoulies, ghosties and long-legged beasties, a.k.a. "Halloween," comes the DVD release of 1408 starring John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson. Now I have to admit--I'm not a big fan of horror movies. Because I am a big wuss. So I watched this in the middle of the day with the lights on. And you know what?

It's really not that scary.

Creepy at times. Anxiety inducing at others. But it's not a slash-fest, splatter-gore horror flick. Thank god for that! While there are some mind-bending moments and great special effects, the film hinges on the fairly solitary performance of Cusack. And, as usual, he does a solid job as the cynical skeptic writer of paranormal novels, Mike Enslin, who meets his match in an allegedly haunted hotel room. Warned by the Dolphin Hotel manager, Mr. Olin (a classy, understated Jackson) that "it's an evil fucking room," Enslin disregards attempts to dissuade him from his research and settles in for the night.

From the possessed clock radio that blares the Carpenters "We've Only Just Begun" (now that's scary!) , walls that bleed and the appearance of his dead young daughter, Enslin is bombarded by a series of graphic images and creepy happenings. Cusack does a fine job of portraying a man who becomes steadily unhinged as events unfold--but is this really happening or is it one big mindfuck? The interesting thing about 1408 is that in addition to being a (mildly) scary thrill ride, it offers a metaphysical metaphor. Aren't many of us trapped in psychological "rooms" by our doubts, fears, regrets?

Based on a story by master of horror, Stephen King, 1408 is not as classically scary as The Shining. But it's definitely a welcome change from gross-out graphic torture porn that purports to be entertainment these days. The script by Matt Greenberg and Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski is intelligent and offers clues to the character's past and psyche without hitting the audience over the head. I think more could have been done with the metaphysical mindfuck theme as, in my opinion, the scarier moments were found in the growing anxiety of Cusack's character and anticipation of what was around the corner than in the jump-out special effects. To rephrase Sarte, Hell is not other people--but in fact, the demons lie within.

The DVD includes 2-discs with deleted scenes, commentaries by the director and writers and the director's cut with an alternate ending. I actually preferred the alternate ending to the one in the theatrical release. So if you're like me and you like a good thriller that WON'T give you nightmares for weeks to come, 1408 is definitely worth checking out.

No comments:

Post a Comment