First of all I would like to say, "Hello, again." I feel like some sort of creepy uncle who only shows up for the holidays. I tend to have prolonged absences from The Shelf for various reasons and then just pop up from out of nowhere looking to put in my thoughts and ask to sleep on the couch. My excuse THIS time is a pretty good one though. My hard drive pulled a Steve McQueen and drove too fast and too hard for too long. One morning it decided to retire without warning. Since then, I have struggled to find a replacement and when I did, things didn't go according to plan. Let's just say that I am up and running in a temporary status. I've also been doing a lot more in my employment as I was recently asked to conduct a training class which consume a lot of my time recently. Hopefully I will find stitches for my computer to replace the current band aid so I won't disappear, like a creepy uncle, drunkenly into the night without warning and carrying much of the silverware. That being said, let's go to it.
This week we review the recent suspense film 1408 starring John Cusack. Is this the film to freak you out this Halloween, or will it only mildly raise your heart rate? Is it worth your hard earned dollars, or a rental? Check out The Shelf's review of 1408: Two disc Special Edition to find out.
The Hard Facts:
1408: Special Edition
Two Disc in a keepcase
Distibutor: Genius Entertainment
Original Studio: Dimension Films
Release Date: October 2, 2007
Stars: John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson
The film is adapted from a Stephen King short story in the Everything’s Eventual: 14 Dark Tales. Like many previous films based on King's short stories, things have been changed around a bit here or there and added to, to create a film. Film makers have had success with previous short stories like the memorable Stand By Me, but Stephen King is a one-of-a-kind author- and film makers have to be faithful to the elements and atmosphere to really translate King to film. Side note: King himself has commented how the numbers of the title add up to unlucky number 13.
The Film:I like Stephen King. I've liked his books and most of the big screen adaptations. My first foray into the world of Stephen King was through a short story collection called 'Different Seasons'. Three of those stories from that collection would later be made into the films 'Stand By Me' , 'Apt Pupil' and 'Shawshank Redemption'. I especially liked Mr. King's non-horror writing. One in particular was called 'The Eyes of the Dragon'. I read the standard King novels as well and I liked them too. I just feel he is awfully underrated as a story teller and is always shoved into the horror drawer. This film captures the best of both worlds.
The story follows writer Mike Enslin who makes a living writing tales of haunted locations across America. His problem is that he is a closet skeptic. He gets the opportunity to check out room 1408 in New York hotel and he regrets that choice for the rest of the movie as the room itself proceeds to take the skepticism right out of this character. The great thing about this film is that it's not typical horror. I would classify it more as a creepy thriller. The room doesn't just scare the character with the typical tactics. It reaches into the soul of it's victim and discovers his worst fears and life's anxieties. Room 1408 uses Mr. Enslin's past to frighten him and does a darn good job of it. Samuel Jackson plays a minor role which I felt was below his talents and did not allow him to give it any depth with the scenes he was given. It seemed like he was there to garner attention for the film and bring him a paycheck. It's always good to see him on the screen, though.
The film was definitely worth the watch and did a good job giving you creepy feelings as they used enough of Mr. King's influence to give it just the right amount of chill and story mixed together. It's one that I may watch just one more time before Halloween to get my chill factor up properly for the holiday.
Disc 1: Behind the scenes featurettes: John Cusack on 1408 and Inside room 1408, and the Theatrical trailer. Disc 2: Feature commentary by director Mikael Håfström and writers Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, featurette: The secrets of 1408, deleted scenes and optional commentary. Also includes collectible Dolphin Hotel postcards.
Audio/Video: Obviously there are no problems with the audio/video of the DVD with it being a new release. Saying that, I will mention that the camera work was very good considering the film takes place largely in one set. The camera allows you to explore the room an doesn't make you feel claustrophobic.
The Bottom Line: It was O.K. I hate to sound so bland, but the actual disc and features left me wanting. In the recent releases of classic films it's understandable to not have any 'making of' featurettes or interviews with your favorite star, but they still try. The special features in this package made me feel as if they just threw in some filler to make it stretch for two discs. The small featurettes that are present repeat themselves and offer very little in the way of interesting facts. The best one shows how they did the special effects in the room itself. I think someone should have taken the time to give the DVD collector more to buy for.
The film itself garners a B grade, but the overall grade for the DVD package would have to be a C. They could've done a lot more with it than they did.
Overall rating: 3 stars (Groucho Glasses)
Please feel free to comment if the need strikes you.
“They say you can't die in your dreams... is that true?”