Added on June 25, 2007

Lo and behold, John Cusack (“Must Love Dogs”) playing a self-pitying cynic. You’re not surprised? What if Cusack was convincing in said role? That’s astonishing.

Cusack needs to step up in “1408” – a chilling psychological thriller based on a story by Stephen King – because he’s on screen literally every scene of the two-hour movie. He plays writer Mike Enslin, a mix between a Myth Buster and a Ghostbuster who goes to “haunted” lighthouses, cemeteries, mansions and hotels to debunk people’s beliefs in spirits. Mike finally meets his match with the inexplicably insanity-inducing room 1408 at The Dolphin Hotel in New York.

Haunted by the room and the ghosts of his own past, Mike battles to stay alive as long as he can. “1408” uses the old fashioned apparent but not present ghostly specter to spook both Mike and the viewer, but it doesn’t rely on these gimmicky scares. “1408’s” most basic frights come from Mike’s descent into near-insanity. At any given moment, he could commit suicide. Or, at any given moment, the room could drive him to a death that would pass for suicide.

By the end, we’re not sure what to think of all that has happened to poor Mike. We sympathize for him, but not too much. After all, how can you feel much for character in a movie in which you’re not 100 percent sure anything happened?

“1408”
MGM
At Quality 16 and Showcase
2.5 stars

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