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Ghost Canyon

'1408 (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)'
(John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, et al / 2-Disc / PG-13 / 2007 / Weinstein Company)

Overview: Based on a short story by Stephen King, a man who specializes in debunking the paranormal checks into the infamous room 1408 in the Dolphin Hotel, only to discover… the terror is real.

DVD Verdict: To say the film "1408" is good is an understatment. To say it is one of the best horror films of the 2000s is more like it. Seriously, this film gets so many things right it blew my mind. I'm sitting in the comfort of my own chair, and I have an experience that I usually only get in a theater: I am creeped out of my wits! The film succeeds on neary every level: casting, direction, pace, production values (despite some corny CGI), acting, script, tone - everything about it is so well-done that any flaws can be easily overlooked.

Mike Enslin is a writer who has thrown his considerable talent away for cheap non-fiction ghost tales that rarely get read. His newest book, "Ten Nights in Ten Haunted Hotels," is near completion. He receives a postcard from the Dolphin Hotel with a single anonymous message written on the back: "Don't enter 1408."

Seeing this as a challenge, Enslin proceeds. After getting into a very entertaining argument over his right to stay in 1408 with the hotel manager, he finally gets in. Although he was previously told there's been over fifty deaths in the room, he's not phased. At least, until, his alarm clock erupts with the Carpenters "We've Only Just Begun." And then we know we're in for one thrilling, amazingly entertaining ride.

I must say, I'm like any film fan who believes the term "horror film" is frowned upon by society. All we've gotten are horrendously awful remakes of old classics and disgustingly sadistic torture/gore films. None of it is scary. It's just repulsive cinema. So imagine my surprise when I'm sitting there, watching "1408," and I'm creeped out! Apart from that, it can actually be called a horror film. And it's rated PG-13, I might add. And it's creepier than anything I've seen for a long, long time. If anyone tells you good horror is strictly in R-rated territory, tell them to watch this.

John Cusack is brilliant. Had he not been cast as Mike Enslin, this film would have been a disaster. Because, basically, he's in almost every frame of the film; when that happens, you'd better have a good lead actor to carry you through the story; any lesser actor woulkd have failed. Cusack more than meets the challenge. This film is proof he's a very underrated actor and deserves more recognition. There's so much in the story to work with that you can tell he had a blast doing the film.

[CAUTION: Spoilers here!] Visually, the film comes through in spades. Room 1408 is anything but scary on first sight, just a normal hotel room. Then the room itself becomes a personal hell, driving poor Mike insane. This where the visuals take off; and some of them are wild! For example, Mike tries signaling for help across the street to another building. The man in the other building begins to wave frantically, as if he sees him. But suddenly, Mike realizes: the man is just a mirror image of himself. Also toward the end, we see a painting of a ship at sea, and all of a sudden, it comes to life, complete with waves and lightning. So many cool things happen to Mike from the evil room; and it's usually stuff you wouldn't expect to be creepy. But boy howdy, it is. I'd say "1408" is the best Stephen King adaptation since "The Green Mile" (1999).

If you are a fan of great horror, this is the film to see. Ignore any other torture remake pig slop and enter 1408. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Theatrical Release
Extended Director's Cut with Alternate Ending
John Cusack On 1408
Inside Room 1408
Theatrical Trailer
Feature Commentary
The Secrets of 1408
Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary