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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

1408 (review)

Skeptical writer (John Cusack: The Ice Harvest) authors books about ghosts and spooky stuff but doesn’t believe a word of it… until he stays in Room 1408 at New York’s fabled (and nonexistent) Dolphin Hotel, where the freaky hauntings will turn your hair white, or would do, if you were expected to survive. Now, if you — in the audience — are in the tiny minority of incredulous people in this country, knowing what you know about how skepticism is typically treated by our credulous pop culture, then you’d be fully justified in anticipating a hearty smackdown of skepticism, but deliciously enough, this adaptation of a Stephen King short story takes the opposite tack: that a hearty dose of doubt is the best way to approach the paranormal, even if it does actually happen to be real. But that’s all icing on the cake. Sure, this is pretty much an episode of The Twilight Zone, but it’s a really, really good episode of The Twilight Zone, largely because of the magic of Cusack, who shucks his usual irresistible gosh-darn charm for a mellow but muscular intensity that his fans may find surprisingly profound but equally watchable.

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MPAA: rated PG-13 for thematic material including disturbing sequences of violence and terror, frightening images and language

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb

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