1408 (2007) - Two-Disc Collector's Edition

Genre(s): Drama / Horror / Thriller
Weinstein Company || PG13 - 104 minutes - $32.95 || October 2, 2007
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2007-09-25


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director:
Writer(s): Stephen King (short story); Matt Greenberg and Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski (screenplay)
Cast: John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, Mary McCormack, Tony Shalhoub


Theatrical Release Date: June 22, 2007


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:

    Disc 1:
  • John Cusack on "1408"
  • Inside Room 1408
  • Theatrical Trailer


  • Disc 2:
  • Extended Director's Cut with Alternate Ending
  • Feature Commentary
  • The Secrets of "1408"
  • Deleted Scenes w/ Optional Commentary


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

Plotline (from DVD back cover): When Michael Enslin insists on staying in the reportedly haunted room 1408 at the Dolphin Hotel against the grave warnings of the hotel manager (Samuel L. Jackson), he discovers the room’s deadly secret -- an evil so powerful, no one has ever survived an hour within its walls.

I decided to watch the theatrical version since I had not seen the movie before so my basis for this review is on that version. Since the “director’s cut” was on disc 2, I’ll treat it as a special feature and will expand my thoughts in that section (and it will be calculated into my features rating as well).

“1408” is a surprising movie in that it wasn’t what I expected based on trailers and other promotional material. For sure, there are elements of horror in the Stephen King tradition, yet at its core is sweet and human, something deeper than your run-of-the-mill supernatural slashers.

At the movie’s base, John Cusack once again delivers a wonderful and heartfelt performance as a man who lost his way after the death of his young daughter. What’s amazing is not the heart-wrenching scenes but instead the emotional rollercoaster he takes the viewer on from beginning to end. No, this isn’t a tearjerker but I still felt for his character.

Also at work is a fine work from Swedish director Mikael Håfström, with his sophomore English-language feature (the Clive Owen/Jennifer Aniston thriller, “Derailed” being his first). He doesn’t take the easy route with false scares and the like, instead focuses telling a story surrounded by elements that will, at times, scare the living daylights out of you.

Visually speaking, there are scenes that are remarkable to watch. One scene has room 1408 flooded with water coming from everywhere to another where the room is in a literally frozen, cold state.

If there was one drawback it would be the underused Samuel L. Jackson as the manager. His scenes with Cusack are great as he tries to persuade Cusack not to go into the room, but having him in only maybe 15-minutes was disappointing. I will note that the director’s cut features him a little more.

“1408” isn’t the perfect suspense-thriller, but it works on a certain level unseen in most others in the genre, especially one’s rated PG-13.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Disc 1 starts out with a pair of webisodes titled John Cusack on “1408” (2:31) and Inside Room “1408” (2:07). Neither is that in-depth and only scratches the surface. Also included is the theatrical trailer.

Now, the second disc is where most of the features reside.

Extended Director’s Cut with Alternate Ending (1:52:00) - I’ve included this like a special feature but on its own, I thought it made a fine feature film. Most of what was added was some gore, a nipple shot on a painting and other miscellaneous scenes that either would’ve given the film an ‘R’ rating or were cut out for pacing. The biggest selling point is an alternate ending. While I can’t reveal what it is, but after thinking about it for a while, I actually prefer this ending which is significantly different from the theatrical version. This version is about 8-minutes longer.

Director & Writers’ Commentary - This new “director’s cut” also includes a commentary with Mikael Håfström and screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski. The trio provides a lively track and rarely pauses so if you like wall-to-wall commentary (until the very end), this is for you. The only time they’re silent is during a key emotional scene between Cusack and his daughter.

The Secrets of “1408” (22:51) - A ‘making-of’ featurette split into four parts: “The Characters”, “The Director”, “The Physical Effects” and “The Production Design”. A little short but it does give an inside glimpse at making the film from casting -- Samuel L. Jackson was suggested by Harvey Weinstein -- and other bits of trivia. The one I found most interesting was “The Physical Effects” which features footage on the room’s flooding and even the room tilting sequence (featured in the deleted scenes).

Deleted Scenes (11:22) - 5 scenes are included with optional commentary. The only thing of note is the aforementioned tilting scene as the room tries to prevent Cusack from stopping his wife from coming into the room.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

“1408” is presented in anamorphic widescreen and looks fine. It goes from darker colors to some interesting shades throughout the motions inside the room.

Both the theatrical version and director’s cut offer a Dolby Digital 5.1 track.



.::OVERALL::.

I’m not sure where “1408” ranks amongst others in the same genre but because of Cusack and Håfström’s direction, it is a good movie worth the price tag. The “collector’s edition” label is a bit too much because the features aren’t that great, but for the director’s cut and commentary, it’s worth buying.