Fourteen-Zero-Eight (2007)
Directed by Mikael Håfström

Starring John Cusack Samuel Jackson

Basically a 90-minute episode of "The Twilight Zone," "1408" is a damn good Stephen King story adaptation. Cusack plays a sell-out writer of travel books devoted to haunted hotels. When he receives a postcard urging him to not stay in Room 1408 of the Dolphin Hotel in New York, he can't resist heading out there.

He's greeted by hotel manager Samuel Jackson, who warns him not to check into that room, where dozens of deaths – both unnatural and apparently natural – have taken place over the decades. Believing that Jackson's warnings are just a publicity stunt to try ot get the room mentioned in his new book, the writer decides to go ahead and spend the night anyway.

Naturally, the room turns out to be quite haunted. Cusack pulls a tour-de-force performance as a tormented man forced to face his own demons as the room confronts him with the selfishness he displayed before and after the death of his daughter. Like any good protagonist in a good movie, his character goes through a nice arc – turning him from a cynical writer with no faith in God at the beginning to … well, not good to spoil the story too much. Jackson's role is basically a cameo – but no one but Cusack appears in the movie very much.

Like any good "Twilight Zone" episode, the film succeeds because of the actor's performance. But after about 75 minutes, you feel like the story is just going on too long. It was, after all, a short story – not a novel. The film also delivers a fake twist you can see is a twist a million miles coming. But most horror movies do that sort of thing today.

All in all, the film is recommended, but it isn't a classic. Director Håfström also helmed the less-than-perfect 2004 horror film "Strandvaskaren" (aka, "Drowning Ghost").

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-- Review by Lucius Gore

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