Starring: John Cusak, Samuel L Jackson,
Director: Mikael Hafstrom
Mike Enslin (Cusak) is a popular writer of books about haunted places. He goes, visits, and sarcastically debunks them. When an anonymous suggestion to visit a particular hotel room reaches him, Room 1408 at the Dolphin Hotel, he decides to check it out. But the hotel manager (Jackson) says that the room is not available, and refuses him entry. Enslin insists, and is told all about the dark history of the room, but is not put off.
He enters, and terror ensues.
I’ve been watching a few Stephen King adaptations lately, and this one is one of those that aren’t terrible. It has a good premise and interesting pace and execution. I like the way that so much that starts to happen to Mike could be real or unreal, and plays on his past, so we learn more about him and come to be more sympathetic to him. I used to really enjoy a Cusak film, though he seems to phone it in in his roles recently, and here he’s quite good. Samuel L Jackson is, of course, always a pleasure to have in a film, though his role is smaller.
As all the action takes place in one space, the film rests a lot on effects and changes to the environment, and also on the main character. Mostly as a plot device this works quite well, and the sense of escalating dangers and supernatural intervention is quite well realised. Personally, I have definitely seen films that got under my skin a lot more. It’s not a ghosts and jump scares type film, but one that uses personal unravelling and psychology to give the sense of fear as the character and the audience have to ask themselves what is real.
I started to feel at a certain point that it was all a bit much. I enjoyed watching, but the fears gave way to spectacle and drama, attempts at twists in the plot felt jaded. Still, all in all, an interesting story and a fun film. Also note that if you feel like watching this film, it has been released with three different endings at different times, so your experience of the film and sense of what it’s all about might differ depending on which version you get.
See It If: you like your scary films with more of a psychological element than jump scares. A good King adaptation.