1408 (2007)

If you found hotel rooms creepy before, just wait until you see 1408, the scariest Stephen King movie adaptation since Misery. The story revolves around Mike Enslin (John Cusack), an author that specializes in debunking fraudulent ghost stories that innkeepers tell their customers in order to keep business alive. After Mike receives an anonymous postcard from the Dolphin Hotel in New York warning him to avoid room 1408, he naturally does everything in his power to secure that room. The hotel manager Gerald Olin (Samuel L. Jackson) pleads incessantly to Mike to reconsider, stating room 1408 has claimed 56 lives in the hotel's history. Enslin, who remains uninterested and disbelieves the story, ultimately decides to spend one night in the dreaded room. But what Mike will soon discover is that once you enter 1408, there is no return. He must now decipher what is fact and fiction in this supernatural room that not only inflicts physical pain, but toys with the mental anguish that Mike still has from the loss of his daughter.

It would be misleading to actually call this film scary. The amount of legitimate scares and terrors in the film are very very minimal. The best term to describe 1408 would be creepy. 1408 will send shivers down your spine and will unsettle your mind, but it will not terrify you. But it is for this reason that I extremely enjoyed this film. Living in an age of torture porn, it is very refreshing to see a horror film that will affect you on an internal level, rather than trying to make you flinch or throw up. This is all the more impressive given the fact that 1408 is rated PG13, but still manages to remain effective.

1408 is a bit of a one man show starring John Cusack, since the movie takes place mainly in a solitary hotel room. But unlike Will Smith in I Am Legend, John Cusack is a great actor that is capable of carrying a film on his shoulders. His portrayal of a man whose life is being diminished by this evil room is intensely compelling and heartbreaking. Scenes where we explore his relationship with his late daughter really illustrate the despair that has been tearing him up on the inside. In a way, the real demon of this story is not the room, but the memories that the room brings back to life. Cusack is absolutely outstanding in this role, and I feel he is one of the most underrated actors of our time. Samuel L. Jackson has a small role as hotel manager Gerald Olin, and does a solid job of selling the character as truly afraid of what the outcome of Enslin's stay could be. It is also very entertaining to watch his back and forth with Cusack as they discuss the history of the room.

1408 is a creepy, disturbing, well written, well acted, excellent piece of film work that deserves respect for avoiding the hackneyed gimmicks that modern horror films indulge in. A lot of credit must also be given to director Mikael Hafstrom. Even with the use of a few classic horror movie cliches, Hafstrom carries out these tired commonplace events in an original fashion that makes them seem brand new. Most importantly, 1408 doesn't linger around for too long. Before you begin to feel bored with the unchanging scenery, the movie finishes with one of the best and most fulfilling endings anybody could ask for. Just talking about it makes my heart race and brings back the memories of when I had first seen it in the theater, and stood up applauding as the credits ran. You owe it to yourself to see this film. My rating (8.5/10)

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