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Beware, Plants! The PlantEater’s Seen 1408 Already!!

Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here. I can vouch for PlantEater. He’s a longtime regular in our chatroom. He’s definitely got some strong opinions about film, both positive and negative, and I’ve agreed with him and disagreed with him in equal measure. What I do know is that when he says something about a movie, he genuinely thinks it. I’m not sure if I’ll agree with him about this film or not. I know I liked the trailer that appeared online today, and so did my wife (very much) and my sister-in-law. Since I consider them both fairly hard sells in terms of horror, I think that says something. If a lifelong horror fan like me and genre skeptics like them can all be intrigued by the trailer, it’s a good sign. So what did PlantEater think of the movie? Check it out:

Hey There Moriarty! I got lucky this week and got to see "1408" in Manhattan, at a sneak preview. I did it right, getting there 15 minutes before they suggested, and making sure I was well fed and watered prior to going in. The screening people said it was the first screening of the film in the U.S.(I'm guessing they picked Manhattan because it's the setting of the film). They told us that the music track was temporary, that it was a rough cut, and that the "color timing" was not right in spots, whatever that means. The screening people were pretty nice to us, as they didn't use electronic wands on us, or inspect our bags or make us turn our phones off prior to entering the theater. They simply told us, just before they ran the film, to turn off our phones, no texting or recording would be allowed, and that people would be watching from the aisles to make sure about the recording. This seemed to be a nicer way of treating us than the "security checkpoint" procedure I experienced at another event. The movie for THAT one turned out pretty rotten, so I'm guessing that the relaxed atmosphere at this indicates their confidence in the film. And it truly deserves that confidence. I've been a Stephen King fan for decades, and I don't think I've seen a film capture the spirit of a Stephen King story as well since Cronenberg's "Dead Zone"(and this is a LOT more fast paced and intense than "Dead Zone", don't get the wrong idea). I didn't actually read the short story for this one, but I can see all the familar King themes worked into the film, and it manages to produce scares in the way that King used to do so well in his books ... does anyone remember the hedge animals, the fire hose, and the playground tunnel in his novel "The Shining"? Well, this film's two hours is packed with that kind of heart-in-your-mouth terror. Regular King readers will recognize the familiar scenario of a heart-deadened cynic facing what might be a True Manifestation of the Supernatural, but what the movie does so well, in this case, is really, truly, SELL the premise, really make you believe in it. Much of the credit goes to Samuel L. Jackson, who beats down the cynics in the audience and sells the premise from the very second he first appears. And Cusack's cranky, dry, cynical character manages to accomplish this in a different way ... his determination not to be affected frees the audience from the need to hold on to their own cynicism, allowing them to be FULLY affected. And what a ride the movie gave us! The scares kept coming and coming, and I was surprised, and delighted to find myself jumping out of my skin repeatedly ... the movie did NOT telegraph its scares so they could be anticipated, and moved too quickly for this viewer, at least, to detach from the experience. At one point an "oh!" was forced out of me, in a high girly voice, in response to a particularly intense sequence ending in a violent scare. Even though the music was "temporary" it seemed to be very effective, and the sound effects were amazingly supportive of the feeling of impending doom. The story is laced with typical King-sentiment, which provides relief from the intensity, and which had me in tears a couple of times. I would probably have been able to take the terror straight, and still walk out grinning, (my only gripe is that a certain subplot gave the cynical Cusack character a bit of a forced unselfish motivation .. I enjoy seeing asshole-ish characters get their comeuppance, and wouldn't have minded a totally dark movie without any softening of the protagonist) but as it was, I think the film balanced it just right for the audience I saw it with. The movie got an appreciative, spontaneous round of applause at the end, and I'm certainly glad I was there with them. A rather smelly and sweaty looking individual was talking to the kids collecting the reaction cards afterwards, and saying it wasn't a good movie for people with heart conditions. I'd say that's true, but MY heart appreciated the workout. If you've been put off by endless Mick Garris adaptions of King stories, rest assured that this is one of the rare good ones, that seems to have worked hard to re-imagine a King story and make it work on the screen, not simply worshipping at the feet of the author in a plodding literal way. I would suggest that you see it as I saw it ... without any contamination by trailers. The fun of the movie is in the scares and the intensity leading up to those scares, and it's way better to see this fresh, slapping you in the face with the surprises. One other nitpick I have is about the opening, where a mundane scene is intercut with a flashback, but because we start with a flashback scene, we are confused afterwards as to which is flashing back to which. But as they said, it was a "rough cut", and honestly, the rest of the film didn't feel very "rough" at all. Sorry to end the review on this wannabe-editor note, but they didn't pick me for the focus group, and I had to get one in there. You may call me "PlantEater"
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