Monday, June 25, 2007

Jason watches "1408"

It was a quiet, relaxing weekend. Just 1 movie, I must be getting tired. Have to rest up now, because the Jewish Film Festival starts in about a month, and Dead Channels starts right after that.

Anyway, on to the movie. It's mostly good, does a great job of creating atmosphere. Samuel L. Jackson in a short but vital role sets up the "haunted room" premise in a manner that acknowledges its predecessors and still convincingly sets it up as something bigger. John Cusack for much of the movie is a one man show and does a fine job as the skeptic tormented to the point of belief. It's not a gory movie, in fact the blood is just about the minimum required. The scares come from the atmosphere, and I'll give it kudos for getting a scare out of chocolates on the pillow. The scares mostly work. I wish they had done without the loud musical cues that shock more than what's on screen. That's just a personal pet peeve of mine--when I know they're just startling me with a loud noise that detracts from what's on the screen, even if what's on screen is genuinely scary. I also could've done without the ghosts projected as old movies. It's just odd and funny, not scary, although their existence sets up one of the best scares in the movie. And finally, the ending was a bit too foreshadowed.

But I don't want to sound like I didn't enjoy it. I can nitpick it, but ultimately I give it high marks for scaring with solid filmmaking technique. I heard a quote once (I forget where) that when you watch a Hitchcock movie, you're scared because you're in the hands of a master, but when you watch a really well-made sick horror flick, you're scared because you're in the hands of a madman (the "Hostel" or "Saw" movies come to mind, but I think the quote was originally referring to 70's slasher movies). Well, as much as I enjoy watching a madman's movie, it's nice to see a horror movie that at least aspires to mastery. Now I want to check out director Mikael Håfström's previous films, especially his 2004 best foreign Oscar nominee, "Evil".

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