Starring: John Cusack and Samuel L Jackson
Paramount Home Entertainment
RRP: 19.99
Certificate: 15
Available 26 December 2007

A travelling writer (John Cusack) who reviews the scariest locations for a series of books, learns about room 1408 of the Dolphin Hotel in New York. The room has been maintained but unavailable for several years. Since the early 1900s there has been more than fifty deaths in the room, many of them suicides but others as bizarre as drowning in a dry room. After trying his best to talk the writer out of it, the hotel manager (Samuel L. Jackson) has no choice but to relent and let him stay the night in the room. A few things happen which the writer takes to be cheap promotional parlour tricks, but very quickly the room begins to play games with his mind. He can't escape the room, a voice on the phone repeatedly asks if he wants to "check-out", and the bedside clock begins counting down an hour until his death...

Considering he is acting along in many scenes, John Cusack turns in a sterling performance as the protagonist. The character is a born sceptic and so when a few early 'tricks' happen in the room the viewer can easily step into his shoes to shun events as being staged. The beauty of this part is that the pacing of the script allows you to grow with the writer and turn from pessimist to realist as the horror unfolds. If you can accept the nature of the room, very little suspension of disbelief is required, as all reactions are believable.

There are some nice touches in this film; I particularly like the moment when the writer, in an attempt to escape the room, edges along the outside ledge, only to find all of the windows on this side of the building have mysteriously disappeared. Another scene has the writer wake up in L.A. believing it was all a dream, when in reality he is still there in the room. So there is plenty to enjoy here. Many adaptations of Stephen King short stories fail to work sufficiently on the big screen, but this is an exception if you can ignore the pointless cheap thrill in the epilogue.

Extras consist of two Webisodes (John Cusack on 1408, and Inside Room 1408), a trailer, eleven minutes of Deleted Scenes, The Secrets of Room 1408 featurette, and a Commentary by Director Mikael Hafstrom and Script Writers Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski.

Ty Power

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