I chose this movie for today because Sundays sometimes have a nice family vibe to them. And 1408 feels like an old school haunted house movie that the whole family could watch (maybe older kids only, but still.) I have a soft spot for old school haunted house movies, or in this case a haunted hotel room. Some may call 1408 a softball choice, but I disagree. This movie has some fun scares and a great psychological slant. 1408 is based on a Stephen King story, and I actually think it’s a fantastic adaptation in a ton of different ways. The story revolves around a grizzled and jaded author who now writes about supposedly “real” paranormal and haunted locations, yet mostly now makes a career debunking them. Basically he’s a dick (not hard for John Cusack to convey, but I digress). After being jaded for so long he happens on to the story of room 1408 in the Dolphin Hotel, which is responsible for countless deaths, suicides, and self-mutilations. No matter how hard the hotel manager tries to talk him out of it, he still forces his way to stay in it. FYI, the manager is played by Sam Jackson, who I swear was only cast in this small role so he could sternly say, “It’s an evil f***ing room.” Anyway, he checks in, and well, shit goes down. But how it all goes down is what I like about this movie. It starts extremely subtle, and insanely foreboding. A personal favorite is the clock that starts to count down from an hour (after being told that he won’t survive an hour in the room.) But because of this subtlety, he starts to think that the room staff is playing tricks on him, which they actually could be. Then as things progress and he starts seeing things, he thinks he may have been drugged, which he actually could have been. It’s this actual aspect of skepticism that works because we the audience actually aren’t sure either. Now, granted, eventually it get much more aggressive, but the trajectory of it all seems exactly right. And as things start to get extremely personal with Cusack’s character, revealing where his jaded persona comes from, the emotion is real. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a sucker with anything that deals with a young daughter since I have two of them, but still, it’s a solid character touch. Which is good because the entire movie is basically just Cusack in a room, which sounds confining, but it works. Back to the “family” feel I mentioned, the scares are old school; there is practically no gore; it’s not TOO aggressive; it doesn’t insult anyone’s intelligence. It’s great for a family of older kids. It’s a solid, old school, PG-13, horror flick that actually is scary. Give it a shot. It’s just good fun.


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