by Stephen King (original short story); Matt Greenberg, Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski (screenplay)
It’s an interesting movie to watch, however the movie doesn’t follow the typical hollywood structure close enough to fit the Contour structure. For a starter there isn’t a stakes character which is a major element in a typical Hollywood movie. That’s why I only posted the 1st act which does follow the Contour structure. Trying to fit the rest of the movie in the Contour structure would only result in a forced breakdown (the numbers between brackets are the minutes where these plot points occur).
Who is the main character? – Mike Enslin
What is the main character trying to accomplish?
- Physical: Escape room 1408.
- Emotional: Heal the relationship with his ex-wife.
- Spiritual: Find inner peace over the bad relationship he had with his father.
Who is trying to stop the main character? – Room 1408.
What happens if the main character fails? – If Mike cannot escape from room 1408, he will die.
How is the main character an orphan in Act I?
Mike Enslin is divorced, his daughter died some time ago and he travels around the country alone to debunk paranormal occurrences.
How is the main character a wanderer in Act IIa?
Inside room 1408, Mike examines the room, and experiences unexplainable things: the radio starts to play music by itself. After ripping the clock’s electrical cord from the wall, the display changes into “60:00” and starts counting down from 60 minutes; When Mike is unable to hear anything, he opens the window to check his hearing; the window slams down, wounding his hand; Mikes wants to leave the room to go to a hospital; however his key breaks off; Mike has visions of his daughter in the hospital before her death; Mike sees his own father in a hospital or institution of some kind.
How is the main character a warrior in Act IIb?
Mike tries to get out of room 1408: He crawls through the air vents, where he meets a strange monster; he climbs out the window to enter another room, however suddenly all the other rooms on his floor are gone; he talks with his ex- wife via video-chat on his laptop, till the sprinkler system shorts out his laptop.Later his laptop works again and a person looking like him tells Lili to join him in the room (which would lead to her death.) The room fills with water; Mike is getting sucked under water and wakes up in a hospital. Free! No… Suddenly everything around him breaks down and he’s back in the room, the nightmare continues. The clock resets itself to 60 minutes and counts down, starting the hour of hell from the beginning. Mike gets a phone call, asking him if he wants to take the expressway out; hanging himself. Mike says no. The caller tells him that his wife is on her way to join him.
How is the main character an martyr in Act III?
Mike doesn’t want his ex-wife to get into the same problems as he has and decides to end this now. He sets the room on fire with a Molotov cocktail, sacrificing himself. (So, in fact, the hotel manager gave him the tool to end everything!) There are two versions of this ending: In the theatrical release, Mike Enslin is rescued, in the director’s cut, he dies. Still, dying or surviving, he made the sacrifice by wanting to die so his ex-wife would be saved.
ACT I: ORPHAN
Plot Point 1 – We meet either the Hero, the Victim/Stakes character, or the Antagonist: We see the hero, Mike Enslin, staying the night on the attic in “The Weeping Beach Inn,” a so called haunted hotel. Mike hopes to see any proof of an afterlife in the form of ghosts, but nothing happens.
Plot Point 2 – We see the hero’s flaw in relation to the Stakes Character:(4:50) Mike’s flaw is that he does’t believe in God, ghosts, poltergeists or the paranormal. He tells the four visitors in the bookshop who came to the book signing promotion for his newest book, that he would love to see a real paranormal event, but that he has never seen one.
Plot Point 3 – We meet the Antagonist, or someone or something symbolic of the Antagonist: (9:15) Here we see a symbolic event representing the villain (room 1408): While surfing, Mike almost drowns and awakens on the beach, gasping for air, in exactly the same way as later in the movie when he’s already captured in room 1408 in the Dolphin hotel. It’s a foreshadow of what’s going to happen. Next he goes to the post office where he finds the 1408 postcard. Later in the movie while being captured in room 1804, this office will change back again into the room.
Plot Point 4 – The Deflector slows the hero down, pulling him off the path: Mike calls the Dolphin hotel to reserve room 1408, but is told by Gerald Olin (Deflector), the hotel manager, that this room is unavailable, for ever. Mike talks with his publisher Sam Farrell and lawyer Clay in New York, who tell him that according to the law, if that room is unoccupied the hotel has to give it to him otherwise they can be sued. After a long debate with hotel manager Gerald Olin who is still trying to prevent him from staying in room 1408, Mike gets the key to the room and takes the elevator up. During the elevator ride, hotel manager Olin tells Mike how the room is being cleaned: once a month and always with the door open, but that one maid got trapped some years ago and had taken her own eyes with a pair of scissors. He warns Mike one more time not to go into the room (minutes 11-25).
Plot Point 5 – The Inciting Event happens, causing the hero to become emotionally involved: During the walk from the elevator to the room, Mike looks at the pictures of the victims who died in room 1804 (minutes 26-28).
Plot Point 6 – The hero’s goal is clarified as it relates to the Stakes Character and/or Love Interest. The hero’s problem is made clear to the audience: 28: Mike enters room 1804 and gets comfortable. He is not impressed by what he sees and is convinced that this is again a BS-ghost story. Mike is the stake character as well in this story, so this plot point is about Mike needing to save himself from the room. His disbelief in the paranormal is “his problem” that he needs to fix up till the end of the movie.
Plot Point 7 – An Ally aids the hero by propelling him out of the status quo: 31: The radio starts playing by itself (“it only just begun…”), there are 2 chocolates on the bed and the toilet paper is folded again (Mike ripped off a part earlier). Still, Mike believes that these are only tricks. Mike’s comfort zone is that he doesn’t believe in the evil of room 1804. He says “I have been in this situation before: it’s save.” What he needs is someone/something to wake him up and makes him understand that there is a paranormal dangerous world out there. That something is the radio singing “it only just begun…”.
Plot Point 8 – The hero seems ready to move forward toward a goal and/or Stakes Character, but can’t bring himself to do it: 32: Mike is still not convinced that the room is really evil and analyzes what just happened and concludes that the person who did these things is hiding in the room right now. He doesn’t NEED to free the stakes character (himself) from the villain (the room), because he is not in danger! (Changing your believe is hard and the rational mind raises all sorts of objections).
Plot Point 9 – Conflict with the Antagonist or a Deflector stops the hero or threatens the emotional stakes: 34: The heat in the room has gone up fast and Mike calls the front desk, asking to send someone up to fix this. On the phone we hear the same voice and the same question asked again: are you ready to check out? Mike’s mood has changed from being a non-believer to being a little worried and he wonders how many people must have being sick and died in this bed and that hotel rooms are by nature creepy places. What has been lurking in the background and begins to move forward are show via the room’s actions: turning up the heat and asking again on the phone if Mike wants to check out, in other words, kill himself, by which it’s threatens the stake character (Mike).
Plot Point 10 – The Severity of the treat is being showed: 36: With a UV-light, Mike checks the room in the dark and sees a lot of (normally invisible) spots spread over the furniture and walls; he imagines the persons who must have killed themselves here. The threat and the danger of the room becomes suddenly very real, because there is evident splashed all around the room and what is at risk here is Mike’s life! However, even now, Mike doesn’t feel the need to leave this room, he’s still not committed enough, still doesn’t believe in the paranormal evil which is this room.
Plot Point 11 – A Deflector threatens to take the Stakes Character from the hero: 39:40 – The radio starts playing loud, again singing the line “It only just began”, meaning trouble is coming your way! The display chances to the number 60 and starts to count down. Mike repeats what the hotel manager had told him earlier: “nobody last more than 1 hour.” Here the villain (room) threatens to take the stakes character which is Mike himself.
Plot Point 12 – The hero decides to save the Stakes Character: 40: Things are getting more intense now: while looking out of the window onto the street, the window shuts down on Mike’s hand with force and wounds him badly. In the bathroom he tries to wash of the blood with cold water, but the water changes into a stream of boiling hot water, making him jump back screaming madly. Back in the bedroom, the radio starts playing loud again. He pulls it from the wall, the countdown display is however still showing, doing his job. The phone rings and he tells the woman on the phone that he is badly wounded and that she wins; he wants to check out immediately. When the woman ignores his request he shouts at her and threatens to sue the hotel. While waiting for the hotel manager to answer to complain about the room, the phone gets disconnected. Now, finally, Mike (being the hero/stakes character) realizes that he’s in real danger and has to get out room 1408 as fast he can.
With this realization, act 1 is complete: Escaping room 1408 alive is the physical goal. We already know Mike’s emotional- (healing the relationship with his ex-wife Lili) and spiritual- (finding inner peace over the bad relationship he had with his father) goals and therefor, Act 1 is completed.
THE CENTRAL QUESTION:
Professional: Will Mike escape room 1408 alive?
Personal: Will Mike heal the relationship with his ex-wife Lili?
Private: Will Mike find inner peace over the bad relationship he had with his father?
André van Haren