As creepfests go, 1408 is right up there with The Shining, also inspired by a Stephen King work and featuring a menacing hotel and the wobbly sanity of a writer lodging there. "It's an evil [bleep]-ing room!" intones Samuel L. Jackson, who plays the smooth but vaguely sinister manager of the Dolphin Hotel. John Cusack is stellar as Mike Enslin, a cynical Everyschlub who writes "occult travel guides," but believes in nothing, especially anything resembling an afterlife.
What happens in room 1408 of the Dolphin may change Enslin forever--if he survives the first hour. The thrills range from jumpy "gotcha" moments involving mirror images, to more traditional horror fare like bleeding walls, to truly diabolical touches like the recurrence of the Carpenters' "We've Only Just Begun." (Shudder.) The film does a nice job of weaving the operatic horror effects with the truly heart-breaking backstory of the death of Enslin's young daughter and his marriage--perhaps the only two things Enslin has ever believed in. And thankfully, there's just enough humor to leaven the intensity at key moments; Cusack is unparalleled when it comes to delivering a self-deprecating wisecrack, even as his life passes before his eyes. Get your adrenaline pumping and check into this room. Oh, and sorry, no refunds. A.T. Hurley