Mike Enslin is an author of several paranormal books, in which he proves hauntings are hoaxes. That is until he receives a post card that tells him to visit room 1408 in The Dolphin hotel in New York, where he has not been for a long time because he used to live there and blames himself for his daughter's death. He is met with opposition by hotel staff to rent the room because of the long history of deaths in it. He is eventually allowed in and his life changes forever.
This is a psychological-based horror, based on the Stephen King horror short story, Think of 1408 as being The Shining on a smaller scale. The Shining had a haunted room that is seen briefly but 1408 focuses on only one room.
1408 shows us a layered history and the darkest thoughts of one man. It is a character-driven story that gives us a look into one man's thoughts and nightmares.
If you want a story with great character development and a slow-building psychological horror, this is a great choice.
John Cusack outdoes himself as Mike Enslin. He changes from a calm man and by the end, he is on the brink of sanity. Cusack creates a heartfelt character that moves you.
Samuel L. Jackson puts in a great performance as the hotel manager, Gerald Olin. His motives are left open to viewer speculation, which adds to the mystery.
This is not a gory movie and its SFX are in the form of set effects. There are no ghastly make-up effects either. 1408 relies on psychology to strike fear in us. It doesn't rely on shocks.
The atmosphere is not really scary. It doesn't have the feeling of approaching terror like in most other King movies. The Carpenters music on the radio doesn't strike terror, which would have helped. Again, its horror is in its psychology.
The hotel manager's motives and the reality of Enslin's experience are left open to speculation.
1408 is not the most terrifying horror movie but it will spook some viewers with its sadness and a sense of imprisonment. It is worth a view by horror, psychological, and drama fans.