Writer: Stephen King (original short story); Matt Greenberg, Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski (screenplay)
Mike Enslin, the emotionally wounded protagonist (played by John Cusack) in director Mikael Hafstrom’s solid adaptation of Stephen King’s 1999 short story, has little reason to feel good about life. He’s somewhat bored by his job, which is to write investigative books about haunted vacation destinations, and he left his wife after their young daughter’s death made him lose all of his faith in family and higher powers.
Enslin’s latest gig, spending a night inside the supposedly ghost-ridden Room 1408 of Manhattan’s Dolphin Hotel doesn’t help lift his spirits, either. A series of spooky sounds, spectral visions, and supernatural mind-screwing not only give Enslin his first actual paranormal experiences, but they also conjure up the pains caused by his little girl’s passing.
At one point, the room physically convulses and Mike awakens on a beach, the same one where he recently wiped out on his surfboard (seen earlier in the film), leading him to believe that whole 1408 business was just a dream. So, thinking it’s all good (just as the first-time viewer does, we’re sure), he heads to the local post office, in which he notices that the construction workers are the same guys who worked at The Dolphin; promptly, the hardhat rockers destroy the post office’s walls and help Mike to see that he’s still trapped in Room 1408.
There’s still a whole lot of film to go after 1408’s unconventional end-of-the-second-act twist, but it’s undoubtedly the movie’s strongest moment.