starring John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, Mary McCormack, Tony Shalhoub
screenplay by Matt Greenberg and Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski, based on the story by Stephen King
directed by Mikael Håfström
by Walter Chaw Boy, do I like John Cusack. He has scary, earnest intensity. No one does the nervous pit-pat like he does; no one else could have been Lloyd Dobler, or Martin Blank. Then there's The Sure Thing, Better Off Dead, Being John Malkovich, and hey, I liked The Ice Harvest (most of it, anyway). And boy, I guess Samuel L. Jackson is sometimes not terrible. The one scene he and Cusack have together in the prestige horror flick 1408 plays like seriomythic garbage-pop poetry: everything's good--the cadence, the words; what I'm saying is that I was well and truly on board with this dumbathon all the way up to the point where Jackson's hotel manager Olin (and as an aside, King has a special place in my heart for opening The Shining with "Officious little prick," referring to a different hotel manager) offers that the titular room in question isn't haunted, it's just an "evil fucking room." Cusack is haunted landmark guide writer Mike (the landmark guides aren't haunted, and neither is he, he documents haunted locations...never mind), not only a bit of a lush who looks like he's gained a few pounds on his liquid diet but a surfer, too, making this one of a sudden slew of films to deal with surfing (Surf's Up, Evan Almighty, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer) while providing 1408 (it adds up to "13," get it?) its Jacob's Ladder/"Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" escape clause. Yes, it's that kind of film--what kind of film did you think it was going to be?