1408

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
1408 Movie Poster Image
Hotel room horror is more mental than physical.
  • PG-13
  • 2007
  • 94 minutes
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 10 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 56 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive messages

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

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.

Sex

Dead bodies in a tub appear very briefly undressed (not explicit); bikinis and swimwear on beach.

Language

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."

Consumerism

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.

What 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.

User Reviews

Adult Written bytucker94 April 9, 2008

Good First Scary Movie...

This is a good first scary movie for teens because its not too scary, more like a thriller. And all these people saying that this movie has no plot and it dont... Continue reading
Adult Written bytommysportsgirl April 9, 2008

Really a dud.

The movie started out with a lot of promise, and exciting spooky buildup. But it doesn't deliver. It just turns weird and "psychological" in a... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old June 30, 2010

Perfect horror movie!

I thought it was a great' movie' extreamly scary though. Main character, Mike, is most of the time usually drinking some sort of alcoholic drink. He i... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byI'm 10 not 13 September 16, 2011

Great

it's creepy,sad,and a good movie and FYI i'm 10

What's the story?

Stephen King makes a good living writing about scary things and places. He also writes frequently about what it feels like to write about scary things and places. 1408, based on one of King's short stories, is sort of a mix of both. Mike (John Cusack) is depressed about what he does for a living. He writes cheesy, repetitive "ghostly" travel books (10 Haunted Hotels, 10 Haunted Lighthouses); he researches them by spending nights in supposedly haunted rooms, then produces rote manuscripts that appeal to unimaginative readers (his disdain for his audience is revealed during a public reading attended by a few dimwitted fans). Mike's frustration and cynicism come to a head when an anonymous postcard writer challenges him to stay in room 1408 of Manhattan's Dolphin Hotel -- which has produced more than 50 corpses over the decades. When the management refuses to let him, Mike gets curious, eventually muscling his way in via legal threats and generally obnoxious behavior. He's warned off by earnest manager Mr. Olin (a very subdued Samuel L. Jackson), who insists it's not because he cares about Mike but because he doesn't "want to clean up the mess." But Mike thinks he's seen it all ("I know that ghoulies and ghosties don't exist") and takes the room.

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the enduring appeal of ghost stories and haunted house tales. Why are they so popular? Do you think strong emotions can continue to "occupy" a place? How does the movie make room 1408 seem scary before viewers even see the inside? How does Mike's past become part of the room's arsenal of disturbing imagery? Families can also discuss why people like being scared at the movies. What makes some horror movies better at accomplishing this than others?

Movie details

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