1408 (PG-13)

Horror 94 June 22, 2007
By Robert Wilonsky
There was every reason going in to believe that 1408, based on a Stephen King short story, would be nothing but a Shining rip-off made on the cheap. The screenwriters are collectively responsible for Reign of Fire, Problem Child 3, and Agent Cody Banks; John Cusack has proven he’s not above taking a gig for the paycheck; and director Mikael Håfström’s prior English-language film is the dreadful Derailed. Yet it’s a surprisingly effective movie — terrifying as it builds tension and heartbreaking as it offers release. Cusack plays a former novelist named Mike Enslin, who, after the death of his daughter and a separation from his wife, abandons all interest in the living to focus on the dead, writing travel guides to haunted locales. But in Room 1408 of the Dolphin Hotel in Manhattan, in which dozens of corpses have piled up since the 1920s, he finds his first truly "evil fucking room." The horror wouldn’t work without Cusack, who makes what could have been a rote acting exercise play instead as a cathartic ritual. We’re never sure if Mike’s losing his mind or saving his soul. More than likely, it’s a bit of both.
Mikael Hafstrom John Cusack, Paul Birchard, Margot Leicester, Walter Lewis, Eric Meyers, David Nicholson, Alexandra Silber, Johann Urb, Andrew Lee Potts, Tony Shalhoub Scott Alexander, Matt Greenberg, Larry Karaszewski, Stephen King Lorenzo Di Bonaventura MGM/Dimension

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