* * * * 1408     

    We have learned to expect the best or the worst from Stephen King adaptations. To be sure we have seen writers and directors mess up many a work. And we have seldom seen glimpses of the masterpiece that was the original Shining. 1408, we are glad to say, comes close.

    Based on a very, very short story by King, 1408 takes place inside a hotel room...think Shining reduced in size and you get the feeling for this movie. Instead of a full hotel, we reduce the size to four walls. However, the plot is pretty much the same. You are trapped, you can't get out and how does one deal with that.

    John Cusack plays a paranormal investigator gone wrong...well, in short he is a fraud. He writes books pretty much for the money and has very little interest in the science of paranormal studies. The one unique thing he does do in the film is use a black light device to detect blood and human remains which may help identify hot spots if used with other devices (such as EMF detectors). Unfortunately Cusack's character is too busy denying possibilities to do any real investigation, and that is when all hell breaks loose.

    The first half hour Cusack meets up with Samuel L Jackson, the manager of the hotel in question, who steps in for one very large scene before calling it a payday. To be sure he earns his check. Jackson's warnings to Cusack about room 1408 are well crafted, well scripted and delivered point blank. Interestingly enough this exchange makes up about half of King's original story and you can tell as it sets the table nicely for act two.

    As Cusack enters the hotel room known as 1408 notice the color changes. His wild shirt tends to blend in to the background and you an feel as if he is being literally painted into the room, trapped on so many levels. Before the action even starts you have a very, very large need to get da hell out of that room. But the room has ideas of its own and all will be revealed in this case...although not here, we do not want to ruin it for you.

    Suffice to say, we were impressed with this one. We see very few scripts that are genuine in nature. They took just enough from King and filled in the details. And we actually get a pretty good ending which is hard to do in these kind of stories.

    DVD: 1408 Collector's Edition includes a Director's Cut of the film, although that name is misleading. The commentary included (which is very good) points out on several occasions that this is actually an alternative presentation rather than a director's cut. The original theatrical version is far superior and the alternative ending presented is clumsy and out of place. Applause for the version the suites decided on.

    For every Stephen King collector this is good buy and definitely a must watch.

    (-William J Piniarski-)

    | copyright, 2007 |