1408 | Screen | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper



 John Cusack stars as skeptical horror novelist who checks into a haunted hotel room -- the titular 1408 -- in Mikael Hafstrom's adaptation of a Stephen King story. 1408 follows the pattern of much of King's work: After a shaggy beginning, there's a gripping, intriguing middle that goes on too long, before its thrills are extinguished in a "definitive" conclusion. The midsection, which starts when Cusack encounters the smooth but vaguely sinister hotel manager, portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson, is quite entertaining. Hafstrom makes the most of the story's restrictions -- a single actor in a single room, with a few clever gimmicks -- while ramping up the suspense and mystery. Is the room "evil," as Jackson warns, or are Cusack's own demons, buried beneath a familiar veneer of dismissive irony, getting the best of him? You'll wonder, and likely nibble your nails a bit. Early check-out for viewers would be ideal, but, along with hardworking Cusack, we must struggle through several false, and ultimately unsatisfying ends.