June 27, 2007 - When Samuel L. Jackson offered John Cusack a chance to upgrade his hotel room, Cusack should have taken it. Instead, he ends up spending a very long, very scary hour in room 1408 of the Dolphin Hotel.

As this 2007 thriller opens, it's a dark and stormy night (seriously), and author Michael Enslin (Cusack) has just checked into an inn known for being haunted. It's research for his latest book. Enslin is something of a ghosthunter, but he doesn't really believe in ghosts. In fact, we learn that, since the death of his young daughter, Enslin doesn't really believe in anything.

Still, when Enslin receives a postcard warning him "not" to stay in room 1408 of the Dolphin Hotel, he's intrigued. He notices that the room numbers add up to 13, and his research shows that people who check into the room don't check out without first dying a violent death.

Samuel L. Jackson is the hotel manager. He tries hard to talk Enslin out of staying in the room that he calls evil, but Enslin is determined. So, armed with his trusty tape recorder and an $800 bottle of liqueur, he heads to room 1408, where the clock radio has a nasty habit of suddenly playing the Carpenters' classic, "We've only just begun..."

Overall review: *** 1408 is John Cusack's movie. He's in just about every scene, and in many of those scenes, there's just him and the hotel room. He has to carry the movie, and he does. He has the world-weary look of a man who hates his work but who keeps doing it because he's good at it, because it reinforces his theory of a godless world, and because he doesn't believe that writing anything else is worth the effort.

My only problem is a plot point involving the room itself. When he checks into the Dolphin, Enslin is given an old-fashioned key to room 1408. He's told that the modern magnetic keys just don't work in that room. However, all the electronics seem to work - the clock radio, the TV, the fax machine, Enslin's tape recorder. None of those things seems to be affected by the force that prevents a magnetic key from working.

Still, the movie has good special effects, lots of suspense and at least one (for me) jump out of your seat moment. 1408 is worth checking into.