Another of Stephen King's "hotel room" stories have been brought to the screen, this time by Swedish hot shot Mikael Håfström who isn't afraid to keep it coming in this perpetual, unruly horror film. The premise is interesting enough, as unjumpy ghost story writer Mike Enslin seek out yet another allegedly spooky place with lots of history in order to write slick stories about the effect of the place. The difference, of course, is that this time, he finds himself in the middle of the horror himself as the 1408 of the Dolphin Hotel throws its indefinite amounts of firepower at Enslin and the viewer alike.
The trouble with Håfström's approach is that he never establishes any rules for his setup. At the extent that moving walls and tumbling furniture are scary, 1408 might work on a superficial level, but instead of pulling the viewer into an eerie atmosphere and universe with increasing conviction (as in one of King's similar stories, The Shining), 1408 puts its faith in a formula which suggests that increased mess means increased scariness. The effect is familiarly dull. John Cusack has the presence to carry a film like this, but Håfström makes a mockery of his performance as he is dragged from one unmotivated reaction to another. 1408 is yet another example of how difficult good horror is to make. At present, the visual effects personnel is certainly more gifted than the screenwriters and directors.