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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Cynical writer learns to cope with grief and guilt through supernatural experiences; much of the movie takes place in a room described as "evil."
Violence & Scariness
A surfer is hit by a wave and sinks underwater, then appears unconscious on shore; some brutal violence is indicated in newspaper and file photos (bodies are bloody, dead by suicides -- including drowning, throat slicing, gun shots, and hanging). A couple of ghosts jump out of the hotel room window (woman screams as she falls); hand smashed by window bleeds (bloody smears on walls, in sink, on shower curtain); man almost falls off building ledge; room "assaults" Mike, first overheating, then freezing, then collapsing, crashing, bleeding, and burning.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Dead bodies in a tub appear very briefly undressed (not explicit); bikinis and swimwear on beach.
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Moderate language, used in frustration and fear. One "f--k," plus repeated uses of "s--t," "ass," "damn," "hell," and a few of "bastard," "a--hole," and "bitch."
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Products & Purchases
Dell laptop, Yahoo email.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Mike drinks frequently (cognac, hotel liquor bottles); Mike thinks he's been "dosed." Mike's mirror image smokes; a former smoker, he ritually keeps a cigarette near him so he might use it if necessary -- by film's end, he does.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this horror film is more about psychology than gore, though the main character, Mike, does sustain some bloody injuries from the various attacks on him (flying furniture, collapsing architecture, and more). He also suffers increasing emotional distress and irrationality, remembering both his young daughter, who died of a disease (scenes show the wasting girl and arguments between her parents), and his resentful, despairing, wheelchair-bound father. The nightmare-style narrative is illogical and sometimes disturbing, including ghosts, loud noises, jump scenes, and grotesque images of insects and bloody corpses. Mike drinks frequently and smokes once (very dramatically). Language includes one use of "f--k" and plenty of other words: "s--t," "ass," "bitch," etc. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
If you've read or seen The Shining, you've probably seen it all, too -- or at least what goes on in this room. Considerably more claustrophobic than that story's Overlook Hotel -- it is, after all, set in just one room -- 1408 nonetheless deploys the same gimmicks: cracked, bloody walls; babies crying; ghosts in emotional disarray; and flashbacks to distressing personal history (in this case, Mike's daughter, dead of a disease that makes her very pale and dark-eyed). Mike actually feels bad about a number of family traumas, including having abandoned his wife Lily (Mary McCormack) in order to drown his misery in sad-sack drinking, beach-bumming, and lazy writing.
The room locks Mike inside and then proceeds to bring all of his roiling emotions to the surface, sometimes very cleverly but more often very tediously (a window smashes his hand, the room turns hot and cold, the walls collapse, the room changes temporal dimensions, etc.). The room's most deliciously perverse (and always jarring) assault is the clock radio's auto-turn-on, which repeatedly blares the Carpenters' "We've Only Just Begun." But even better, when Mike looks out a window to a room across the street hoping to signal for help, he sees a mirror version of himself -- dressed differently, unspeaking, apparently from another time. Unable to communicate with himself, Mike discovers that he is, after all, quite stunningly alone. Such moments grant Cusack a chance to disintegrate subtly rather than raging about in a spooky-horror-filmy fashion, and he takes full advantage of the opportunity.
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Our Editors Recommend
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