Review #1: 1408
Michael Håfström directs 1408 from a short story by Stephen King and a screenplay by Matt Greenberg, Scott Alexander, and Larry Karaszewski. John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, Mary McCormack, and Tony Shalhoub star.
Mike Enslin makes a living debunking haunted places. One day he receives a post card that leads him to check out Room 1408 at the Dolphin Hotel in New York. Despite bribes to get him to check into any other room, he insists on staying in 1408. Once he’s in the room strange things begin to occur that will challenge his belief in the paranormal.
This is a slow burn movie. We spend some time getting to know Mike and what he does. As the story moves on, we get to know his past and how it scares him. Once he’s checked into the room, the haunting starts. At first it’s the radio turning on by itself and some things moving around, but the haunting gradually gets worse, building to a great ending that fulfills Mike’s character arc. The other cast are mostly cyphers, save for Lily, who’s connected to Mike’s past. But you don’t really need the other characters to be developed. They’re peripheral to the story. The pacing is slow, but it works to the movies advantage.
The cast is small which suits this movie just fine. It’s an intimate ghost story and you really only need one character as your main focus. John is totally unlikable at first, but as you learn the pain of his past you start to want him to escape the room. Mary McCormack really sells her pain and is such an underrated actress. Samuel L. Jackson is pretty restrained, unlike most of his characters, which is a nice change of pace. It’s nice to see a different side of him.
Most of the special effects are pretty good. Some, particularly the CGI ghosts, haven’t aged as well. But the practical effects are top notch. Especially the physical changes to the room. They do a great job selling the events that occur in 1408. You can almost feel what Mike is going on. What he’s feeling.
I give 1408 (2007) 7/10. It’s a slow burn ghost story worth a watch.
Review #2: Vacancy: First Cut
Vacancy 2: The First Cut is directed by Eric Bross from a screenplay by Mark L. Smith. It stars Agnes Bruckner, David Moscow, Scott Anderson, Arjay Smith, and Trevor Wright.
A trio of teens heading south stop at The Meadow View Inn and soon realize their being recorded. However, what the proprietors have in store for them is far worse than they could imagine.
This movie was a huge disappointment. There was little to no suspense. There was barely any character development. The only thing we really get to know is that Jessica and Caleb are expecting a baby and Caleb is nervous about how Jessica’s dad will take all this. And that Tanner gets on their nerves constantly. The kills were lame. The pace is very slow. The movie seems to drag on endlessly, despite the run time only being about 90 minutes.
While the movie itself was awful, the cast was pretty decent. Trevor Wright is an underrated actor. Agnes Bruckner is honestly amazing and is so underrated. Jessica is honestly the only character who you really come to care about. Although the pregnancy is only ever mentioned once. Despite constant running and stress, never is the pregnancy mentioned again. David Moscow, Scott Anderson, and Brian Klugman do an adequate job as the antagonists, although there is a bumbling quality about them. Despite them killing a few of the cast, they just don’t feel very threatening.
Overall I give Vacancy 2: The First Cut (2008) 4/10. I expected better and was disappointed. I would avoid this.