Directed by: Mikael Hafstrom
Premise: Based on Stephen King’s short story, a writer who debunks ghost stories (John Cusack) checks into room 1408 at the Dolphin Hotel and soon finds himself facing real paranormal activity.
What Works: The first half of 1408 is very creepy and well constructed. The film sets up Cusack’s character as a likable protagonist and incrementally reveals his background and the mystery of room 1408. These two components work well together and the story has been carefully constructed so that the background of the room and the story of Cusack’s character fit together in ways that are not contrived but do create unity. Samuel L. Jackson stars in a supporting role as the manager of the Dolphin Hotel and he does a very nice job selling the mystery and the threat of the room. By the time Cusack’s character arrives there, the film has built up a sufficient amount of dread to keep us watching things closely. In creating the haunting of the room, 1408 uses some interesting and effective cinematic tricks, playing with the soundtrack and using both contemporary computer tools and old school camera and editing techniques to convey the madness of the room and its effect on Cusack’s character.
What Doesn’t: The second half of the film strains the story’s credibility with false endings and red herrings. The very end gives some characters a reprieve, and the film’s unwillingness to go all the way into the madness is a little disappointing.
Bottom Line: 1408 is a good Stephen King adaptation, much better than other films adapted from his work. While the second half of the film is rocky, there is enough in the film that is good to make it worthwhile.
Episode: #146 (June 24, 2007)