For writer Mike Enslin (John Cusack), ghosts and the supernatural are simply myths people use to bolster the local economy with tourism dollars. Mike has made a career of evaluating and debunking so called haunted inns, hotels, graveyards, and locales all over the nation.
While his books do well enough for his editors to be happy with his work, and for locales to be included in his next book, Mike lives a life of routine.
One a promising author, Mike abandoned his novels for his haunted travel guides, and a life of hotels and sparsely attended book signings.
While Mike is evaluating the numerous brochures sent to him by prospective topics, he notices a simple hotel post card that features the simple message “Do not stay in room 1408”. Intrigued, Mike attempts to book the room for a review, but is unable to as the room is no longer available to the public.
With the help of his editor and the legal staff, Mike is able to cover the mysterious room 1408 at the Dolphin Hotel in New York.
Upon his arrival, Mike is greeted by the hotel manager Gerald Olin (Samuel L. Jackson), who offers numerous incentives ranging from rare Brandy, to a penthouse suite if Mike will give up his request to stay in 1408.
It is learned that over 50 people have died while staying in that room and that nobody has even been able to last an hour before befalling some horrific tragedy. Mike is convinced that this is all just part of the hype and that Olin is simply trying to scare him off.
Despite the numerous pleads from Olin to reconsider, Mike insists upon staying in the room, and is soon alone in room 1408.
Upon entering the room, Mike finds it to be a cozy and well maintained room. At first nothing seems out of the ordinary, until a couple of bizarre things happen. Mike is at first convinced there is a member of the hotel staff in hiding, who is playing a trick on him, but soon, Mike realizes just how and why 1408 earned its reputation.
What follows is a serious of horrors that Mike is unable to escape from, despite his best efforts, and he must figure out the mystery of 1408 before it kills him.
The film is based on a short story by Stephen King and is one of the better adaptations of the author’s works. Briskly paced at around 90-minutes, the film is careful to setup the characters and locale, but once the bizarre starts, the audience is in for a thrill ride complete with twists, turns, and some bizarre and suspenseful moments.
Cusack does a masterful job of portraying the conflicted Mike, but never lets you lose sympathy for the man, and displays a very effective ability to blend action, horror, emotions, and pathos, as Mike walks a razor thin line between reality and chaos.
It is especially effective given the fact that Cusack has to carry large segments of the film on his own, without any co-stars in much of his scenes.
The film does lose some momentum in the final 20 minutes, but still rebounds nicely to come to an effective and memorable ending without overusing many of the hackneyed horror film staples.
That being said if chills are what you are looking for this summer, then make sure to check into ?”
4 stars out of 5