The cynical and skeptical writer Mike Enslin writes books evaluating supernatural phenomena in hotels, graveyards and other haunted places, usually debunking the mystery. While writing his latest book, he travels from Los Angeles to New York to spend one night in the Dolphin Hotel’s posessed room 1408, which is permanently unavailable for guests. The reluctant manager Mr. Gerald Olin objects to his request and offers an upgrade, expensive booze and finally relates the death of more than fifty guests over decades in the cursed room. However Mike threatens Mr. Olin, promising to sue the hotel, and is finally allowed to check into the room. Later in the night, he finds that guests of room 1408, once they have checked in, might never leave the room alive.
Our Thoughts on 1408
In my opinion this is the perfect horror movie. For those that know me can attest that this movie holds close to home on many levels.
“1408” is the best horror film to come out in several years. Unlike most horror films these days, it does not rely on gore and you don’t leave the theater wanting to get your money back because you were cheated at the end. Some people may not like the ending but I thought it was like a good episode of “The Twilight Zone.”
The thing I liked best about “1408” was that it is not just another haunted house. It is a customized portal into Hell that is made specifically for the inhabitant, in this case John Cusak. Also, the film has it’s share of humor. The possessed clock radio in the room only plays The Carpenters. That must be Stephen King’s idea of Hell.
If you have any inclination to see this film, you need to see it on the big screen. It is not going to translate well onto video. It stays away from the cheap tricks of other horror films and develops a creepy story instead. If you liked “The Ring” and “The Grudge,” you will probably like “1408.”
8.5 out of 10
In the movie, Mike Enslin (John Cusack) says to his recorder, “Hotel rooms are just naturally creepy places, don’t you think? I mean, how many people have slept in that bed before you? How many of them were sick? How many were losing their minds?” Stephen King wrote this in his explanatory note of 1408 in his compilation book of short stories.
While addressing his audience at the book signing, Mike says, “Stay scared”. This is a phrase traditionally used by director George A. Romero, a friend of Stephen King‘s. Romero has said this at numerous conventions, and often uses it as part of his signature.
One of the first victims of the room was named “Grady”. Grady was a character in “The Shining”, another horror story about a hotel written by Stephen King.
1408 was actually quite accurate in stating that there are laws in place within the United States forcing hotels to accept any guest. While this does not necessarily mean they can request any room they want and stay there as portrayed in the film, innkeepers and hotel/motel owners have a legal duty to accept guests. The hotel owner has the right to reject or expel persons whom he or she reasonably deems objectionable. It has to be objectively reasonable, though (claiming the hotel room the guest wants is haunted would not be likely to be found in a court of law to be a reasonable basis for rejecting a guest). There are also anti-discrimination laws in place to protect hotel guests of protected groups. These guest duty laws for hotels have been established by earlier cases (Langford v. Vandaveer, 254 S.W.2d 498 (Ky. 1953), Pettit v. Thomas, 103 Ark. 593 (Ark. 1912), Moody v. Kenny, 153 La. 1007 (La. 1923), Morningstar v. Lafayette Hotel Co., 211 N.Y. 465 (N.Y. 1914). If 1408 were a real-life scenario, virtually the only ways Mike Enslin could be rejected or removed would be if he had no intention of being a guest, if he were being a nuisance and damaging property, if he refused to pay due fees or if he were suspected to injure the hotel’s business or guests in a hazardous, uncomfortable or dangerous situation (State v. Steele, 106 N.C. 766 (N.C. 1890). If room 1408 was deemed damaged or unsafe, Enslin would not be able to stay there – however, claiming a room is haunted by ghosts doesn’t count, nor does there being earlier deaths or crimes in the room stand up as a reasonable basis to bar a guest from using a particular room.