PictureThis is filmed in a 2.35:1 ratio and is a VC-1 1080P high definition encode. The film is generally very rich in colours and offers plenty of detail. Contrast and blacks amply add to induce much depth throughout and it's a pretty polished affair. The lighting on the other-hand leaves a lot to be desired. It induces a yellowish tint to proceedings and plays havoc with the natural skin tones at times. It's almost as if the lighting used to illuminate the sets is based around the old-fashioned bulbs that produce that kind of yellow light. Strange choice indeed? Nevertheless the studios usually know what they are doing so I will give the benefit of the doubt to the production team and would guess that this must have been by design. Most scenes are shot very cleanly and free from digital noise or enhancements. However, on occasion you will see very light grain present in a few fleeting scenes. All in all the video presentation remains at a pretty good level and you won't be disappointed.
SoundThe audio comes in two flavours. Dolby Digital 5.1 or lossless DTS HD 5.1. I must say it was mightily impressive. From the patter of raindrops, thundering storms, crashes and thuds this mix will certainly keep you involved. The ambient effects and the use of the discrete channels is all very well done. You always feel spooked by the sounds coming at you from all directions. It all adds to the horror and the suspense and helps makes this film into the frightener that it is. Steering and enveloping are both top notch. The dialogue is clear and is mostly directed through the front centre stage. On occasion though, when the effects are going full tilt, in DD5.1 formyou can sense the dialogue clipping but not seriously so. There is also plenty of low-end activity throughout as well and the LFE channel certainly gets a work over. You will experience this right from the start of the movie whilst Enslin is driving through a storm. There are also no alternate languages to pick from and the only foreign option on offer being Dutch subtitles. Overall it's a very competent audio package and certainly does the movie more than justice.
Alternate Ending 1 - 5 mins 23 secs - The directors cut ending is a little confusing and drawn out. This is a more fluent ending but just as confusing. It's not presented as full screen and strangely appears set within a picture frame in SD.
Alternate Ending 2 - 5 mins 04 secs - if both the directors cut and the first alternate ending don't make any sense or leave you wanting somewhat, then you can try this. I would say if you find the first two endings unsatisfactory then you will not find any saving grace in this third offering. Once again it's not presented as full screen and is set within a picture frame in SD resolution
Deleted Scenes - 11 mins 14 secs - five short scenes that hit the editors floor. Nothing here that adds much to the film in any shape or form really.
The Characters - 7 mins 59 secs - documentary style interview and voice over with the director and actors about how they felt working in the movie and in particular with the single room.
The Director - 5 mins 13 secs - an interview with Mikael Håfström discussing about his style and his expression of how he wanted the movie to be portrayed.
Production Design - 5mins 23 secs - the production staff talk about how they worked on the room itself. The challenge was to keep the room interesting all the time and how they managed to do that with the effects and the effective use of lighting.
Physical Effects - 4mins 18 secs - this predominantly concentrates on a deleted scene where the room was flooded then twisted and tilted using massive hydraulics. Very interesting to see the effort that goes into using water within sets.
Commentary Track Director - you get a full length commentary by Mikael Håfström joined by screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszeweski. There is discussion about the original Stephen King novel, the shooting in London and some of the variations made for the directors cut. It's pretty standard voiceover stuff but a worthwhile inclusion.
Trailers - five trailers and ads for movies including the feature itself. All the usual promotional material you would expect - 1408 - 2mins 26 secs- The Mist - 2 mins 25 secs -Saw IV - 31 secs - 30 days of Night - 2mins 14 secs - Rescue dawn - 2mins 21 secs
VerdictSuch are Stephen Kings' talents that you would imagine he could inject a great degree of horror into almost all of the material that he writes. However there is only so much imagination a writer can have and horror on this occasion gives way to a more psychological frightener of sorts. 1408 is based on one of Stephen Kings' short stories and is in many ways a honed and more polished re-attempt at some of his earlier works. The Shining particularly springs to mind.
1408 is quite a claustrophobic movie and is set within a singular hotel room, yet the direction and production of it keeps things surprisingly fresh. There is enough tension and intrigue on offer that will keep most audiences gripped for at least 2/3rds of the movie. Mikael Håfström genuinely builds a sense of eeriness into the movie and draws the viewer creepily into the tension. John Cusack puts in a convincing and admirable performance and for the most part plays the character of Mike Enslin pretty much as himself. Samuel L Jackson has a disappointingly small bit-part role. Nevertheless the centre stage character of this film remains Room 1408 itself and it has to be said that the film does portray that character development convincingly so.
In summation this HD disc is a very competent video and audio package and the audio in particular has much to praise about it. There are going to be those that like this type of movie no matter what but it has to be said that 1408 does tend to lose its way somewhat. Whether you can stick it out until the final credits is debatable and the final 15-20mins certainly does it's best to confuse you. The Directors Cut has tried to make better of the ending compared to the original Theatrical Cut but the disc also comes equipped with two further alternate endings just in case. If I was a betting man I feel that you will be watching both to see if you get a better sense of conclusion. All in all I'm not a particular fan of the genre and I was not horrified in the least but 1408 does genuinely have something of the frighteners about it.
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.