Saturday, June 23, 2007


Stephen King and film. His work has inspired some of the best and some of the worst visions in cinema and television. On the wonderful side: "The Shining", "Stand By Me", "Shawshank Redemption", "Green Mile", "Hearts In Atlantis", "Salem's Lot" (the original), and "Misery". Worst? "Rose Red", "Kingdom Hospital", "Maximum Overdrive", "Cujo"

The good news is that "1408", the new film based on a work by King, isn't half-bad. Not great, mind you, but not bad.

Faithful to the short story, the film follows the ever engaging John Cusak as a writer of books about "haunted places" as he visits the Dolphin Hotel's ROOM 1408, a site where over fifty people have met their death. Yeah, that does stretch things a bit, but suspend your disbelief and sit back. The story is a roller coaster ride which, although it sinks with excess from time to time, manages to deliver some great scares (ask the teenage girls in the audience who shrieked at least four times).

I think what works best here is that there is little gore in the film. Unlike the pornography that is "Hostel" and "Turista", the director decided to let the horror arise from identification with the main character, a lonely man who has forsaken his talent following the death of his daughter. As the audience watches him struggle with personal demons, as well as those inflicted on him by the evil of room 14o8, it's impossible not to root for the poor man. And as you learn more about him, and feel his pain, the film becomes that much more terrifying.

After my last film review on the "Rise of the Silver Surfer", it's good to report that there is something out there to spend money on. Don't expect anything great, just sit back and enjoy this for what it is, an old fashioned Saturday afternoon spook show.


Jean-Luc Picard said...

This looks a lot better than asome recent films.

Carl V. said...

We saw it yesterday and I thought it was okay. Not great, but entertaining. I really enjoy John Cusack films and I thought he was a really good choice for this role. The special effects were great and yes, you definitely have to suspend disbelief at times, but with these kind of horrors all the usual rules don't apply anyway. I'm not sure I would encourage anyone to pay theatre prices for it, but matinee prices or a dvd rental is a good choice.

SQT said...

I'm glad it doesn't fall into the "bad" category, otherwise I wouldn't have a chance to see anything decent this summer. My husband's been interested in seeing this too.

Bruce said...

Kingdom Hospital was not a King orginal. It was first a series done by Lars Von Trier. King took some of the stoyline & characters from that for the awful ABC series.

The original is fantastic since Von Trier did not have to go through the censors.

Stewart Sternberg said...

Bruce, I actually have a copy of the original. I picked it up recently. It's a shame that it was billed as Stephen King's creation.

Stephanie said...

I love John Cusak...and Stephen King, so this is a must for me. I don't even care if it's great or not! (But I will totally agree with you on Maximum Overdrive!)

Alex said...

You forgot the best two miniseries he's done: "It," and "The Stand."

I am very disappointed in you.