John Cusack is always worth a look, isn't he? He's one of those actors that automatically gets you onside the second he steps onscreen. Although Runaway Jury, Identity and Max saw Cusack try something different, he has for the most part played it safe - but 1408 sees Cusack take a massive leap out of his comfort zone and tackle something that tests his acting and physical capabilities to the limits. In an adaptation of Stephen King's short story, Cusack plays Mike Enslin, a moderately successful writer who specialises in debunking paranormal activities. He books into the Dolphin Hotel whose room 1408 has seen a total of 56 deaths and, according to manager Olin (Jackson), no one has ever lasted more than an hour. Enslin scoffs, but is soon subjected to relentless psychological terror. Mix Barton Fink with The Twilight Zone and you've got 1408, a horror whose enjoyment will entirely rely on your mood when watching: it could be intriguing or downright ridiculous. Cusack, for the most part the only actor on show, delivers another sound performance. Even though the knowing nods to old school horror like Vincent Price and Peter Lorre ("Don't go up there!") are fun and Cusack knows how silly it is (you can see it on his face), the story deserved a darker adaptation. It does have a great set-up and the first hour really has you in its grip, but they didn't know how to finish it and 1408 ends up in no-man's land.
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