Adapted from a short story by Stephen King, Swedish director Mikael Hafstrom skillfully helms this twisting one-man showcase in terror. Horror novelist Mike Enslin (John Cusack) is a debunker of paranormal myths.
He tackles his latest book project, Ten Nights in Haunted Hotel Rooms, with the been-there-done-that cynicism of a wizened professional knocking out yet another routine assignment. Things get exciting when Enslin reads a news clipping about a mysterious "room 1408" in New York's Dolphin Hotel, where more than 50 guests have perished. With his curiosity properly piqued, our plucky author disregards the earnest warnings of the hotel manager Mr. Olin (snappily played by Samuel L. Jackson) and enters the room with tape recorder in hand. The alarm clock begins a one-hour countdown as walls move and the landscape of the room becomes a demonic presence taunting the author to lose hold on his already loosened sanity. The triumph of 1408 rests squarely on John Cusack's perfectly pitched performance as an unshakable disbeliever repeatedly pushed to the brink of suicide by memories of his own past. Room 1408 presents a psychological, paranormal and physical juggernaut that will curl your insides in knots. Special features include English and Spanish subtitles, commentary by director Mikael Hafstrom and writers Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, three making-of featurettes and an extended director's cut with an alternate ending. (Cole Smithey) Grade: B+