Tuesday, 27 January 2009


Dear God, what hath John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson wrought?

The formerly reliable Cusack plays a paranormal travel writer who specializes in debunking ghostly occurrences at hotels, motels and creepy country inns. He used to be a "real writer", but he has become kinda stuck in this rut of being a professional ghost hunter. He's also a cynical bastard, you betcha. Until he encounters real terror in room 1408 at the legendary Dolphin Hotel in New York City. Those numbers add up to 13, by the way. Isn't that clever?

Excuse me while I yawn.


Sorry about that. Couldn't help myself. Besides, that yawn is probably as good of a review as you are gonna find for this, um, er...yawner. See what I did there?

You know there was a time and a place when I would watch pretty much any piece of crap that John Cusack or Sam Jackson produced. I probably would even watch them produce an actual piece of crap, but we aren't talking about my bathroom fetishes here. No, we are talking about bad cinema. And this, my friends, is truly bad cinema.

I still had high hopes, though. I love these two actors and I love ghost stories. I even kinda love Stephen King who wrote the story that the movie is based upon. Or at least I used to. Back in the day. And he had done "bad hotels" before, and done it well. Like I said, I had high hopes.

So what went wrong? Was it the faux yellow and red hued atmosphere? Was it the kitschy inclusion of every ghostly trick in the book? Radios turning on by themselves, candies appearing on the pillows, toilet paper re-folding itself, pictures dislodging themselves from the wall, a sudden bout of deafness followed by painful encounters with a window pane and some scalding hot water. It all feels like it has been done before. Better, I might add.

Nah. You know what I really think it was? It was John Cusack.

I just don't think he was the right guy for this role. I kept imagining someone who I believed was more cynical, more beat down by life in the role. Clive Owen in the beginning of Children of Men, maybe. He also become too manic too quickly, I thought. And then he started accepting it. And then manic again. There was no slow dissolve into madness like there was with "The Shining". He just sank right into it. That might be the fault of the screenwriter and the director more than the star, but Cusack certainly bought into it.

And I couldn't help but feel that it would have been better if it downplayed the SFX and maybe was in black in white. Or in French. I dunno, but it could have used something.

Another thing. It wasn't scary. Or at least it didn't scare me. Lord knows I wanted it to. I love a good scary flick. All cheap special effects with no payoff. Why did some of the ghosts look like bad movie projections on the wall? Was that supposed to be scary? Was the excessive heat or the chilling cold? Any of it?

Turns out he was more haunted by his own personal ghosts than the not-so-scary ones in Room 1408.

Or was he?

Mwah-ha-ha-ha-ha...um, er Aaaaarrrrgggghhhhh-owwwaaaahhhhhhrooohhhwrrr!!!

Sorry. Yawned again.


downtown guy said...

Stephen King rule: if it is a supernatural horror novel, it will be a terrible movie adaptation. Non-supernatural King stories, on the other hand, tend to be pretty dang good. The only exceptions are The Shining (because of Kubrick's work) and Carrie (because of the cast).

B.E. Earl said...

I did like the film version of "The Dead Zone".

Mostly because it's fun to impersonate Walken saying "the ice is gonna break!"

Slyde said...

i watched this last week.

i thought it was god-awful.

john cusak was HORRIBLE in his role...

i read the original years ago... its like a 50 page short story, for gods sake! why do they continue to take the barest premise of a SK book and try to make a 2 hour movie around it is beyond me...

B.E. Earl said...

Slyde - it was Cusack, right? Sucked!