1408 Review
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Film critics tend to watch movies at unusual times. And while I’ve gotten used to watching action movies on Thursday nights and heady dramas on Friday mornings, I still found it funny that we were seeing the new thriller, 1408, on a bright, sunny, summery Monday morning. But, as it turns out, that’s probably the best time to see it.

Based on a short story by Stephen King (from the book Everything’s Eventual), 1408 follows occult writer Mike Enslin (John Cusack) on a routine visit to a haunted hotel. The author of books like 10 Haunted Mansions, Enslin has spent the night in some of the creepiest places in the world, yet he still refuses to believe in ghosts. But room 1408 in the Dolphin Hotel in New York threatens to change that. In the hotel’s 95-year history, 56 people have died in room 1408—none of them lasting more than an hour—until the manager, Gerald Olin (Samuel L. Jackson), decided to permanently close the room. But the author won’t take “no” for an answer, and he finally forces Olin to let him stay in the room. As Enslin spouts about ghosts and ghoulies, Olin (in true Samuel L. fashion) gives him one final warning: “It’s a f---ing evil room.”

By watching 1408, not only do you get to enjoy a gripping psychological thriller—but it could also count for two of your three weekly recommended 30-minute cardio workouts. 1408 has a breath-taking roller-coaster-ride pace to it: as it builds, you’re a little bit excited and a little bit nervous. You’ll laugh a nervous laugh at some of the lines, and you’ll let yourself get just a little bit into the story. But you’ll know that something’s coming, and you’ll feel it building in your chest—like that thrillingly agonizing climb to that first roller coaster peak. And once it starts, you’ll be clutching at your armrests to hold on. It definitely has some cheap scares, but it also has some false starts and some false stops and a few unexpected twists and drops—all the things that keep you jumping back in line for your favorite ride at the amusement park.

As a fan of all things John Cusack, I was excited to see him take on such a challenging role. 1408 is practically a one-man show, focusing on the horrors that overtake Enslin—and his slow descent into the room’s madness—but Cusack gives a nearly perfect performance. And Jackson’s brief appearance couldn’t be better—creepy, but just a little bit funny, too. It’s just what viewers need before things really get moving.

The rest of the movie is, well, haunting. The scenes in the room get more and more claustrophobic as the minutes tick by. But perhaps the best thing about 1408 is that it’s different. It’s not the usual porno-slasher flick. There aren’t any naked headless bodies or gruesome stabbings. There may be a bit of blood, but the PG-13 rating means that the movie’s horror doesn’t come from graphic torture scenes. The true horror is in the way it feels. And if you’ve got as vivid an imagination as I do, that can be even scarier than any bloody murder scene.

If you enjoy a good scare—the same way you enjoy a roller coaster ride—you’ll enjoy 1408. Just be sure to go to an early show—or maybe a matinee. When you walk out of the theater into the bright, sunny parking lot, you’ll be glad you did.

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