Wednesday, June 20, 2007 04:39 am
Room with a view
1408 delivers plenty of chills and thrills
Untitled Document In this adaptation of a Stephen King short story, horror writer Mike Enslin (John Cusack) takes it upon himself to visit haunted locales and expose them as frauds. His enthusiasm for doing this probably has something to do with the death of his young daughter (Jasmine Jessica Anthony), a tragedy that’s left him cynical and eager to expose everything in the harshest light. The latest stop on his tour is room 1408 in the Dolphin Hotel in Manhattan, which reportedly has such paranormal power that it’s led nearly all of its occupants to early deaths, many by their own hand. Enslin doesn’t believe any of this for a second and, despite being warned against staying by the Dolphin’s manager (Samuel L. Jackson), he checks right in. Although room 1408 will not be receiving a Four Diamond rating from AAA any time soon, it does deliver the goods where paranormal activity is concerned. Hallucinations abound, drastic temperature changes occur at the drop of a hat, and the walls shift like blowing sand. Enslin, though rattled, does his best to deal with all of this, but things take a serious turn when he’s beset by visions of his dead daughter. Guilt and regret are the underlying themes in the film, and the visuals that director Mikael Håfström employ powerfully underscores these elements. Although quality special effects are part and parcel of films such as this one, what makes them truly effective and believable is how actors react to them. Cusack, who dominates the screen from beginning to end, bolsters the horrific sights on display by reacting to them not only with the appropriate measure of terror but ultimately with pathos and resignation. The horror in 1408 springs not from the supernatural but from the heart and soul of a shattered man, a place that contains memories that are far more powerful than any creepy-crawly that goes bump in the night.