Identity (2003) – movie review

Identity 2003 - pic 2

Identity (2003)

directed by James Mangold
Written by Michael Cooney

starring:
John Cusack
Ray Liotta
Amanda Peet
Alfred Molina
Clea Duvall
William Lee Scott

Rebecca De Mornay
Pruitt Taylor Vince
John Hawkes
Jake Busey

This is one of my favorite movies of all time. It has all of the qualities that make a great film for me; suspense, atmosphere, horrific violence, a mystery, and a wickedly intelligent twist. It has identity posterexcellent stars playing great characters, and all the actors give top performances. It takes a classic mystery and turns it on its head, while adding modern, non-chronological filming and exciting pacing.

Eleven strangers become trapped in a desolate roadside motel as a storm and resulting flood cuts off their escape. Roads are closed in either direction of the motel. To make matters worse, Ed Dakota (John Cusack) accidentally ran into a woman and she is badly hurt, and Officer Rhodes (Ray Liotta) was transporting a dangerous criminal from prison and has to stay the night at the motel with the prisoner. So these 11 people are stuck at this motel and one by one they are being murdered according to the room numbers they are in. In the meanwhile, we see clips of a hearing regarding a death row prisoner who is not one of the eleven people in the motel. If this part seems disconnected from the rest of the film, don’t worry, it will connect in wonderful fashion before the film’s end.

There are many WTF moments in this film as you think you’ve figured out the killer, but then that suspect turns up dead. Gruesome murders occur in the film as the motel attendants dwindle, but there’s no real gore. If you have seen this film you probably know why I regard it in high esteem. If you haven’t seen it, you owe yourself to watch it.

A stark thriller, combining hard-boiled mystery and horror, tightens the suspense until a surprising twist ending.
I give it 5 mangled mystery twisters out of 5 on the scale of malignant murderous maniacs

Identity 2003 - pic 1

Yesterday upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn’t there.
He wasn’t there again today,
I wish, I wish he’d go away…

Excerpt from a poem titled, Antigonish by William Hughes Mearns


parlor of horror – movie review

 

1408 – movie review

1408-pic 12

1408 (2007)

Directed by Mikael Håfström
Based on 1408 by Stephen King

Starring John Cusack
Samuel L. Jackson
Mary McCormack


Mike Enslin writes about haunted hotels, motels an B&B’s. He stays in the scariest, most haunted rooms around the world. He writes about his experiences, but he doesn’t believe a word he writes. We get a little time to feel the character in this film, divorced, skeptic, going through the motions. If a motel gets a chapter in one of his books, they see increased bookings. Motel owners and fans send him invites and tips of haunted places in the mail. That’s where he gets a postcard about the Dolphin Hotel in NYC.

The manager of the Dolphin Hotel, Mr. Olin, (played impeccably by Samuel L Jackson) doesn’t want Mike to stay in room 1408. Mike thinks it’s a ploy to build mysticism. There has been a plethora of grisly murders, suicides and untimely deaths in the room. No one can last an hour is what the rumor says.1408-cover

This isn’t a typical haunting, no spirit or phantom is guiding the action. Mr. Olin says it best, “It’s an evil f*cking room.” So don’t expect a ghostly apparition looking for revenge. The room just loves to torment the guests. It torments the mind. It torments the body, it’s torments from personal memories and personal feelings. Mike is ever the skeptic, ready to debunk every small incident, until he can’t any longer. But 1408 will not let him go even after he admits defeat. It wants to defeat him to the core of his soul.

If you like paranormal and psychological horror, this is one crazy film. You’ll have to keep your wits about you because at one point, the room lets Mike think he’s escaped its clutches when he hasn’t. And nearing the end of the film, when he gets through a lifetime of torment, the clock resets. He’s only been in the room for an hour. John Cusack performs outstandingly as the man being tortured to the brink of madness. I enjoyed his talking into a voice recorder, trying to rationalize what was happening and making little observations about the events. This helps to translate King’s story which relayed much of the thought processes of the Enslin character.

I understand a lot of people don’t like this film much. I liked it quite a lot. It’s one of my favorite Stephen King film adaptations. It’s like a modern equivalent of The Shining, but it’s more than that. You get the feeling of going down that rabbit hole, of falling through the looking glass and that once we’re untethered from reality, everything becomes possible. The haunting is of the mind, not the physical plane. And all is madness.

A frightening psychological paranormal adventure in a small room that finds a man’s greatest fears and thoroughly exploits them.
I give it 4.3 frightening feral accommodations on the malicious machinations of madness scale!

 1408-pic 5 (2)

Trivia (via IMDB):

The first victim of room 1408 is a man named Grady, sound familiar? (Grady was the name of the bartender from The Shining)

The axe used by the Fireman to break into the room is the same axe Jack uses in The Shining.

At a book signing the Mike Enslin character says, “Stay Scared.” This is an oft used quote of King’s good friend, Wes Craven. Craven often wrote it with his autographs.

 

13 Trivia

We all know the numbers 1408 add up to 13 (1+4+0+8=13). But there are dozens of references to the number 13 regarding this film. I’ll mention a few here:

*The post card which has a tip to stay at the Dolphin Motel reads: “Don’t enter 1408” – it consists of 13 digits and letters.

*The Dolphin Hotel as located at 2254 Lexington Street in NYC. (2+2+5+4=13)

*The run time on the film is 104 minutes and 8 seconds. (1+0+4+8=13)

*The first death in the hotel was in 1912 (1+9+1+2=13)

*And the US release date of the film was June 22, 2007 (2+2+2+0+7=13)

The Raven (2012) – Movie review

The Raven pic 4

The Raven coverThe Raven (2012)
The Raven is a fictional account concerning the last days in the life of Edgar Allan Poe. On October, 7th, 1849, he was found on a park bench in Baltimore, close to death. He died a short time later. This film attempts to explain the events leading to his demise. A psychopath is stalking Baltimore, killing innocent victims and using Poe’s stories and prose as a guideline. Life imitating art. Poe is called upon by the Baltimore police to help unravel a series of clues and riddles left by the perpetrator. The killer kidnaps Poe’s love interest, Emily Hamilton, and holds her hostage – actually, he buries her alive, in a coffin – and dares Poe to unravel the mysteries he has laid out and find her.

The Pendulum scene is quite jarring as I myself began to suck in my gut as I watched every swipe of the blood splattering blade. The film portrays a thick gothic atmosphere as horse-drawn coaches race through the lamp-lit, cobblestone streets of old Baltimore, in attempts to beat the killer before the next death occurs. The Raven pic 1There are rich sets and wonderful costume portraying this period piece without being garish. John Cusack does a good job portraying the dark and egotistical drunkard, Poe, but the script never seems to take this aspect far enough. Alice Eve, as Emily, shows herself to be a solid actress, refined, and playing her part with an understated charm. All the acting is solid in this film, with equally good parts by Luke Evans, as Detective Fields and Sam Hazeldine, as Ivan. So, why isn’t this a better film?

One drawback is that much of the murders are not seen on film, which I think would have had more impact. Aside from the pendulum scene, in most cases we get to see the dead bodies but not the actual murders themselves. As far as mysteries go, this film leaves no room for the viewer to use their mind and intellect to solve the clues for themselves. Much like Poe’s stories, ‘The Raven’ must have a tragic ending. The impact of the ‘trade-off’ at the end could have been an emotional pinnacle for the film but the director failed to capitalize on it and missed a great opportunity. However, I think the biggest problem with this film is – it reminds one of just how good E.A. Poe’s stories were and makes you wish you were entrenched in one of those stories rather than this film. It is a watchable film for the Poe fan despite falling short in so many areas, but more likely for novelty reason and visual appeal rather than story.
The Raven pic 5 The Raven pic 2 The Raven