Friday, October 05, 2007

Leave a light on, just in case.

Can you watch horror movies? How 'bout alone, late at night? In a dark house? With your spouse on a trip to Far Far Away and your little ones sleeping upstairs and occasionally making vaguely unsettling gurgling noises over the baby monitor?

Something possessed me (ha! - I kill me. Double ha! ... right, not funny. Sorry.) to watch 1408 under those circumstances. Based on a terrific short story by Stephen King, it's about what happens when Mike Enslin, a jaded writer of cheesy "haunted inn" travel guides (played by John Cusak looking appropriately chunky), stays in room 1408 at New York City's Dolphin Hotel, over the strenuous objections of hotel manager Gerald Olin (played by Samuel L. Jackson looking appropriately stern). "Nobody lasts more than an hour," says Olin. Enslin scoffs, demands the key and checks in. He notes on his tape recorder that 1408's major threat appears to be its horrid decor, and blithely flips through a thick file of news clippings and grisly photographs of its previous unfortunate occupants.

Then. Chocolates appear on the pillow while his back is turned. Cute trick, thinks Eslin. But as the clock radio, untouched, begins to blast the Carpenters' "We've Only Just Begun," again and again and again -- well. He begins to realize that the manager wasn't yanking his chain. There's serious evil in 1408, and he'll likely die there.

The movie's got some flaws, but overall it's effectively creepy, and one of the best King adaptations I've seen. (The Shining, of course, is the gold standard. Actually, the others I can think of weren't so good, so maybe that's faint praise.) Anyway the original story, as always, is even better. I'm going to read it again, probably with another adult in the house.


  1. True story: We spent one Halloween night tenting in an abandoned, dark campground, in a strange state, in the rain. But, between setting the tent up and getting into bed, we drove into town and caught The Sixth Sense at the theater.

    That was really not that bad. What was bad was the Hoh Rainforest showing us how un-waterproof our tent was (California camping had never quite revealed that).

  2. Even John Cusack (whom I pink puffy heart adore) could not get me to watch that film. I hate horror movies. HATE them. I could hardly stand to watch the ads for that film.

    Hello, my name is Major Bedhead and I am a wuss.