A writer who debunks haunted houses and hotels is confronted
by an actual dark presence in a hotel room in New York.
Directed by Mikael Håfström
Written by Matt Greenberg, Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski
Starring John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, Mary McCormack, Jasmine Jessica Anthony, Tony Shalhoub
Based on the short story by Stephen King
1408 is one of the most intense and unnerving ghost movies I have ever seen. Inspired by the short story by Stephen King, this film uses paranoia and psychological terror in place of CGI monsters and freakish gore. The result is a genuinely terrifying haunted hotel movie that gets better with each viewing and is a perfect October watch. Led by a powerful performance from John Cusack, 1408 is a fantastic King adaptation that deserves to be seen by all who appreciate a good scare.
Cusack plays failing writer Mike Enslin, whose spark has burned out with the sudden death of his daughter. He makes a living debunking haunted locations across America and writing books about them. When he hears about the infamous Room 1408 at the Dolphin Hotel in NYC, he heads straight there for his new book's final chapter. The manager (Samuel L. Jackson in a great minor role) does his best to convince Mike not to enter 1408, but ultimately Mike wins out and experiences the fright of his life. The film treats the hotel room as an evil, sadistic antagonist. You never know what's doing this or why, and I think that makes the film even scarier. You should never see the face of the Devil. Just know that he's in the room with you.
1408 builds the tension and repeatedly plays with your emotions, lulling both Mike and the audience into a false sense of security before striking again. You never know if he's won or if the room is still screwing with him. It's a beautifully effective trick that makes the film stick in your mind. I'll never look at a hotel room the same way. God knows I won't seek out the haunted one.