1408 Movie Poster Image

1408

Hotel room horror is more mental than physical.
Popular with kidsParents recommend
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 94 minutes

What parents need to know

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.

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.

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?

QUALITY

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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:June 21, 2007
DVD/Streaming release date:October 2, 2007
Cast:John Cusack, Mary McCormack, Samuel L. Jackson
Director:Mikael Hafstrom
Studio:MGM/UA
Genre:Horror
Run time:94 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:thematic material including disturbing sequences of violence and terror, frightening images and language.

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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 is an author and writes about the scary places he's been. He decides to go to the most haunted hotel room ever and when he gets there it gets more and more scarier. There are lots of scary refrences (e.g. you see a woman comit suicide and jusm out the window and screams on the way down. Another thing that happens is the he sees a man in a room across the street and all of a sudden the man starts doing everything Mike does then Mike sees a ghost behind the man and Mike turns around and sees it).
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
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 other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 14 years old Written bytaylorgirlie March 30, 2010
I watched this with my friends, and it was very very very creepy. I loved it though. Really good movie for not too much blood, but scary. There is mention of various other deaths, mostly suicides. Lots of drinking, language, and creepiness, but the drinking was mainly because he was so stressed. the language was because the room was trying to kill him, and he didn't smoke until the end, when he thought he was going to die. If you like scary movies it's good, pretty unrealistic though. My friends and I are doing a YouTube spoof of it hopefully.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking