1408 Review

1408: 1 1/2 stars
Directed by Mikael Hafstrom, Starring John Cusack, Mary McCormack and Samuel L Jackson

The premise established in an introduction that doesn’t even try to hide the film’s silliness is that a skeptical writer of ghost stories (John Cusack in a role that’s miscast on the grounds that it resembles his persona in “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” too closely) travels to his latest conquest: not the usual haunted house but, instead, a room within an elegant hotel, that’s said to be haunted. According to the hotel manager (Samuel L Jackson) the room is never checked out but the hotel chain wants to keep the outward appearance that there’ nothing wrong with the room to make the other customers feel comfortable. Jackson’s character tells Cusack’s character incredible stories of how haunted the room and how once a maid stayed in the room too long and slit her wrists, or something like that in a scene that plays off as too melodramatic. The writer’s cynicism is too strong for the hotel manager’s appeal and he decides to take the room. Of course once he gets there, bad things happen but the audience can see that coming from a mile away.

What 1408 ultimately comes down to is an adaptation problem. The film was adapted from Stephen King’s short story which probably worked great as an Edgar Allen Poe-type exploration of the darker recesses of the human mind. On screen, however, the mobius strip plot contraptions wear thin. With nearly everything on screen happening only in the character’s mind, there’s little reason to care.

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