John Cusack. An actor known for roles in varying genres of film. Romantic comedy, biting political satire. But until recently, Cusack had not been known to tread into the world of horror. His first leap into the genre, a film titled Identity, was a psychological thriller with horror elements at the very core of it.
As good as Identity is, that’s not the John Cusack horror outing we’ll be covering tonight. No, tonight’s film is a doozy called simply 1408.
Year Released: 2007
Written By: Matt Greenberg, Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski (based on a short story by Stephen King)
Directed By: Mikael Håfström
Starring: John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson
After the death of his daughter, author Mike Enslin becomes obsessed with the paranormal. He seeks out reportedly haunted destinations in search of proof of life after death, but comes up empty handed time after time. He dedicates his life to traveling from one place after another, be it home or hotel, to study the location and try to make contact with spirits from beyond the grave. When failure in this task persists, he becomes jaded and cynical, writing numerous books that debunk the existence of the supernatural.
After a speaking engagement, he receives a post card from The Dolphin hotel in New York City with the mysterious message “Don’t Enter 1408” scribbled on the back. Intrigued, he sets out to disprove yet another haunted location. Or so he thinks.
Upon arrival at The Dolphin hotel, he is met by Gerald Olin, the hotel manager, who warns him against staying in room 1408. That the bloody history of that room is more than an old wives tale or something dreamed up to bring in tourists. The stories about room 1408 are very real and if Mike Enslin isn’t careful, he just might become a part of the room’s deadly legacy himself.
John Cusack is a big deal in my house. I’ve never seen a John Cusack movie that I did not, at the very least, enjoy his performance in. I’m not saying John Cusack has not made sub par movies, as that is something every actor is guilty of at some point in their career, no, what I’m saying is that even within the confines of a bad movie, John Cusack shines.
So when I saw the trailer for this film, it piqued my interest. Another horror film with John Cusack in it? I’m in.
I was not disappointed. This marks Mikael Håfström’s first American horror movie, and what a debut it is. The suspense is palpable throughout the entire film, from beginning to end, in a way that is overlooked by most movies, even ones within this genre.
But the biggest piece of the puzzle that is 1408 is Cusack himself. The majority of this film, I kid you not, is the character of Mike Enslin alone in room 1408. That’s it. I know, it sounds boring, but it’s really not. A lot of visually beautiful and disturbing things happen in this room. I have to say, I’m not sure there are many other actors who could pull off this role the way Cusack does. Literally most of the movie is a struggle between two characters, but one of those characters is a hotel room. It should work, but it does, wonderfully.
Creepy, disturbing, somewhat uplifting in some scenes. The whole movie is neatly tied together by Samuel L. Jackson delivering a great performance (as usual).
Should You See It:
If you’re a fan of ghost stories, haunted hotel rooms, and watching John Cusack on screen by himself for two thirds of a movie, then yes.