Originally posted on Sept 30, '07, at slangards.multiply.com
If you're not a Stephen King fan, you probably don't realize how bad a track record Hollywood has with his horror material. It's usually hit and miss, with Carrie on one end, and Dreamcatcher on the other. You also have the odd drama like Shawshank Redemption, and the odd pieces like Kubrick's Shining or Schwarzenegger's The Running Man that are great movies, but don't feel like King's work at all.
Lately, Hollywood's been content to feed moviegoers craptastic, sadistic gorefests and trying to market it as horror. Eli Roth and James Wan with their over the top, sequel prone franchises have been churning out product at a fantastic rate since Hostel and Saw first saw daylight, and from what I hear, it's not stopping. But it looks as if someone in Hollywood finally got fed-up with the hack re-hashing of the same story and the excess of blood. They've given the green light to several good horror films; Bug, Vacancy, etc. And I hear it's getting better with the upcoming 30 Days of Night and The Mist.
But to tide us over there's 1408. Finally a movie worth the name "Stephen King". The first time I saw this, was alone at 2am on DVD, but even on the small screen it still kicked all those other films butts. I was genuinely holding my breath at each scene, experiencing the hotel room with Enslin and not just watching. There's actual suspense, not just the occasional snap shock. It's not a movie where you're lizard brain is constantly on, telling you "we've got to get out of here! this is so bad my brain hurts". It's one of those rare films that lets you sit through it while your monkey brain picks it apart to no avail, and you're dog brain just laps it up.
You won't believe how claustrophobic this movie makes you feel. That's probably why it was so much more effective for me the first time (I feel asleep the second time in the cinema, but through no fault of the film). Imagine being trapped in a hotel room as ghosts walk around you and the shit hits the fan. Imagine knowing you've got 60 minutes till the room kills you and having no where to run.
Unlike all the gore movies, which I always exit feeling a little desensitized, really regretful and a little sick to the stomach, I left 1408 feeling pretty good. Which is really what you want from a good scare isn't it?