A polished Stephen King adaptation from Swedish director Mikael Håfström (‘Derailed’), whose taut psychological chiller is tarnished only by outstaying its welcome towards the end. It’s virtually a one-man show for John Cusack, as a jaded debunker of paranormal phenomena whose curiosity is piqued by an anonymous postcard about Room 1408 at New York’s Dolphin Hotel. So he checks in, dismissing as sales patter hotel manager Samuel L Jackson’s forceful warning that, ‘it’s a an evil fucking room’.
Once inside, however, the cynical Cusack is assailed not only by malevolent supernatural forces, but also his own inner demons – painful memories of the death of his daughter and the subsequent collapse of his marriage. His increasing paranoia and psychological unravelling therefore have an affecting emotional dimension, although the flashbacks and a badly misjudged false ending take us out of the room and undercut the sense of claustrophobia. Håfström stages the set-piece scares with skill, helped by Benoît Delhomme’s imaginative cinematography and some nice creepy touches: notably, a clock radio that only plays The Carpenters’ ‘We’ve Only Just Begun’.