Review by Simon Kiorgaard.
Directed by Mikael Håfström
Main actors : John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson.
On the outset, this film looks like any regular horror movie. Man enters a haunted house – hotel apartment in this case – and is challenged to come out the next morning mentally and physically well. Over the night a series of supernatural events occur which present the possibility of mental and physical harm. But you would be mistaken if you thought that this would be a mere regurgitation of Hollywood crap.
What makes this not just your regular horror movie; is that it’s genuinely frightening, psychologically demanding, heartbreaking and overall executed with supreme elegance.
Mike Enslin is a middle aged novelist with a troubled history; in the past his daughter died from disease, he split up with his wife and descended into an obsession with the supernatural. It is important to note however, that he is by no means a quack, he is in fact a critical and obscenely cynical skeptic; driven to write horror novels about supposedly haunted rooms he has personally visited and stayed the night at. It is indeed his self-professed goal to encounter a real ghost or poltergeist. His hunt leads him to the Dolphin Hotels’ room 1408, which is where the main course of the film takes place.
This all occurs over the first fifteen or so minutes, and in this short space of time one becomes hopeless attached to the main character, one emphasizes with him, and so the trap is set.
From this point forward we have been acquainted with the two main characters, Mike Enslin and room 1408. And I cite room 1408 as a character, because that is what is. 1408 isn’t haunted by a ghost, a poltergeist or a demon, in Samuel L. Jacksons words – the hotel manger – “its just an evil f##### room”.
And so the stage is set, 1408 a malicious, cruel, malevolent, evil and utterly sadistic hotel room, versus, Mike Enslin, a sekptical, hard willed, novelist and recent divorcee.
Elegance... There is no time wasted with blood, gore, chainsaws or cheap thrills, this movie is about the psychological breaking of a single man.