On the Big Board
|A suspenseful, entertaining horror flick that is as much about writing as it is about scary stuff.
|A very scary setup and good dialogue by Cusack stutters a bit midway through, but the thrills are worth it.
|When it works, 1408 is Shining-esque. When it doesn't, it is bad c-list horror.
It would be easy for John Cusack to settle into the role of being a leading man in various romantic comedies. He does it well and it's a niche that women accept him in. But rather than simply accept a paycheck for any trite movie that comes his way, Cusack takes some chances. In 2007 alone he's scheduled to star in an indie film that has him playing the grieving husband of a woman killed in Iraq, a quirky flick that features him as adoptive father to a very strange young boy and a satire that pokes fun at the inner workings of the U.S. war machine. He also stars in 1408, a horror flick that appears to be a cut above the slashers and gornos that have come to typify the genre of late.
In 1408, Cusack plays a writer named Mike Enslin. after the death of his daughter, Enslin becomes set on debunking the idea of an afterlife. He travels the world, finding different haunted locations and proving that no such thing is really occurring. His books are best sellers and his confidence in what he believes is absolute.
One day, Enslin receives a postcard in the mail describing the opportunity to spend ten nights in ten haunted hotel rooms. Of particular note to him is Suite 1408 in the Dolphin Hotel. This notorious room has become well known for the fact that a number of people have died under mysterious circumstances while staying there. Enslin decides to make the Dolphin hotel his next destination.
The manager of the hotel (Samuel L. Jackson) tries repeatedly to warn Enslin that Suite 1408 is extremely dangerous and that it is foolhardy to test the hand of fate. He is unable to get through to the writer, though, and he checks in for a stay. It doesn't take long before very weird and terrifying things begin to happen. Will Enslin be the room's next victim?
1408 is based on a story by Stephen King, a fact that is sure to be heavily advertised in the weeks before the film's release. The studio is Dimension Films, an arm of the Weinstein Company, which hasn't had a lot of luck lately, so much will be riding on their ability to sell this to a broad public. With a very creepy trailer that does a fantastic job of establishing atmosphere, they're already on the right track. (Kim Hollis/BOP)