Most of the better movies adapted from Stephen King stories are ones not based on tales of supernatural terror, but psychological horror 1408 is an exception. As fans will know, though, a number of different endings of the film exist for various reasons, and its star John Cusack has now proposed another.
The pic sees cynical skeptic Mike Enslin, an author of books debunking the paranormal, receive a tacit challenge to stay in the titular room of an upscale New York hotel, which is reportedly so haunted that nobody has lasted more than an hour within its walls, and is suggested to be the cause of dozens of deaths of its occupants. After becoming trapped in a time loop where he’s tormented by inexplicable occurrences, including apparitions of his dead daughter Katie, Mike escapes by setting fire to the room and destroying it. He later reconciles with his estranged wife Lily, and his ordeal is revealed to have been genuine when their daughter’s voice is heard on Mike’s tape recorder.
In an interview promoting the remake of conspiracy thriller series Utopia, Cusack was asked about revisiting past characters, whereupon he suggested the alternative ending.
“I always thought there was another version of 1408, where he could wake up back in the room and continue on. That’s just getting into that Stephen King headspace. He’s such a terrific writer, and I do love that Rod Serling psychological horror and not as much the gore.”
The film’s original conclusion, now dubbed the director’s cut, was changed after test audiences found it too dispiriting. In it, Mike dies in the fire but is suggested to reunite with Katie in the afterlife, although Lily is traumatized by her husband’s death and the hotel manager is shown visions of Mike’s charred corpse and hears Katie’s voice. Another alternative ending, meanwhile, sees Mike’s publisher mysteriously receive a manuscript detailing the writer’s time inside the room.
Cusack’s alternative is certainly an appropriate take, though, as room 1408 seems to act as a personal hell for whoever steps into it, and being forced to endlessly repeat tailored torments is a popular interpretation of damnation. Whether or not audiences would have responded as positively to it is another matter, but from a narrative perspective, it can be imagined as perfectly slotting into the place of any of the other denouements.