R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Mikael Håfström
scr Matt Greenberg, Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski
with John Cusack, Samuel L Jackson, Mary McCormack, Jasmine Jessica Anthony, Tony Shalhoub, Len Cariou, Isiah Whitlock Jr, William Armstrong, Johann Urb, Noah Lee Margetts, Paul Kasey, Tina Maskell
release US 22.Jun.07,
UK 31.Aug.07
07/US Paramount 1h34
It's an evil effing room: Cusack

jackson mccormack shalhoub

1408 Based on a Stephen King story, this film blends several of the author's running themes to create an eerie, unsettling thriller that's more psychological than physical.

Mike Enslin (Cusack) debunks haunted houses for a living. His latest book examines hotel rooms, so when he hears about a series of unexplained deaths in room 1408 at New York's Dolphin Hotel, he decides to take a look, rejecting the warnings of the spooky manager (Jackson): The room isn't haunted, it's evil! Indeed, once inside, Mike is bombarded with images and sounds that play on his deepest fears, mainly relating to his estranged wife (McCormack) and their dead daughter (Anthony). Now if only he could check out.

A smart script and Cusack's distressed performance make this film much more interesting that it might have been. The snappy opening scenes set up the premise using comedy and cynicism to hint at the depths to which Mike will sink later on. References to the "real" book he once wrote, before his life fell apart, give the film some edge, as does the hotel's faded grandeur, the endless loop of the Carpenters on the radio and loads of little gimmicks.

Cusack has a frazzled authenticity as a sullen man who has given up on himself, yet keeps writing to pay the bills and to have fun at someone else's expense, so he never has to think about his past. His haunted expression is perfect, and he somehow manages to keep us with him even when the overall plot turns draggy and repetitive. None of the other cast members really registers, although Jackson is as much fun as ever and McCormack at least develops into someone interesting.

Through it all, Hafstrom keeps the atmosphere moody and creepy, resisting corny horror cliches and keeping the effects subdued and prickly. The limited setting is effectively claustrophobic, although it adds a sense that the story isn't going anywhere. Is this really evil? A nightmare he'll wake up from? At least when the increasing madness begins to go in circles, the occasional terrifying sequence (such as when he literally goes out on a ledge) enlivens things considerably.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 26.Jun.07

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... 1408 b, wisconsin: 1.5/5 "This movie was terrible, none of the characters were developed! yeah yeah he reviews haunted places, well what about his daughter, what was his first book about? there are no answers! the movie seems like you were let into a schizophrenic mind and then there is a tornado and then its over. i jumped, but not because the content of the movie, because of blaring noises and 'flashes' of the bad guys, but please save your money and help end this guys career." (2.Jul.07) Rating: 1h
© 2007 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall