1408 (2007) – movie review

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Movie Review by EDF

Starring: John Cusack, Samuel L Jackson, Mary McCormack, Tony Shalhoub
Director: Mikael Håfström

Usually perceived as an author who scares people, something has recently happened to Stephen King’s profile. With visual projects of King’s stories once again gaining momentum, the transfer of his work to the big screen has always been a hit or miss affair, but we are now entering another productive phase and interest in his work has most notably come from his recent TV anthology series, NIGHTMARES AND DREAMSCAPES. This might be in retaliation to the number of trashy, gross out horror movies that are making it on to the big screen, or it could be that people just want a good old fashioned scare.

Mike Enslin (John Cusack) is a horror writer of sorts, he writes books about haunted places. While on a less than successful book tour for his latest release, ‘Ten Most Haunted Hotels’, a fan asks him to sign a book he wrote long ago, one that he seems to like to forget about, ‘The Long Walk Home’. It is about the relationship between an abusive father and son. Seemingly with no interest in writing novels again, Enslin is off on his next assignment, to investigate a haunted room at a New York hotel.

Room 1408 at the Dolphin hotel is so haunted people do not survive a night there, let alone an hour in the room. With a body count reaching 56 since the hotel opened in 1912, half of the fatalities ended violently. The hotel manager, Gerald Olin (Samuel L Jackson), tries to talk Enslin out of staying in room 1408 but Enslin is not willing to listen. Olin is also concerned that if something were to happen to Enslin the adverse publicity would scare customers away from the usually busy hotel. Olin reluctantly hands him the keys for room 1408. What Enslin must now face in room 1408 is more than ghosts; it is all of his fears amplified beyond belief.

We all love a good scary story and Mikael Håfström’s direction keeps the pace moving nicely so that it builds the story up to the point where Enslin walks into room 1408. When all mayhem breaks lose within room 1408, you do feel genuinely scared for Enslin. It could be that we have not seen John Cusack in this sort of role before and he makes it all seem very real. While everything seems believable enough, when the border between reality and dreams blurs, you do find your interest waning a bit. Overall, this is a good old fashioned horror movie that even features a song by The Carpenters that will have you creeped out the next time you hear it on the radio.

5 out of 6 stars