You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave

In honor of Johnny Cusack’s birthday today, I thought I’d review his new movie 1408.

But it’s really hard to review a horror movie, for some reason. I’m usually so long-winded about movies, but I can’t think of anything to say. Hrmm…1408 is about one night spent in a haunted hotel room. Poor Johnny, he has such bad luck with movie hotels. First there was that one from Identity that ended up all being part of an insane guy’s imaginings, and now this! Tell you what John, if you’re ever passing through this way, you’re welcome to crash at my place. Just stay away from hotels!
I liked 1408 overall. JC did an excellent job, especially since he was pretty much acting all alone in 3/4 of his scenes. Those of you who are Samuel L. Jackson fans, don’t bother…he’s hardly in it, and his whole job consists of delivering some very cheesy expository dialog. I think that’s why they hired him. The exposition explaining the history of the hotel was really clunky, so they knew they’d need the sort of actor who can sell ANY lame dialog and rang up Sam.

The editing and pacing were tight — important in a horror flick. Though the pace started to lag a bit at the end and I found myself asking, “oh NOW what?!” But overall they did a good job of keeping the audience nervous, and also of setting you up to wonder if the events were real or all just inside Johnny’s head.

Was the movie scary? Well, I’ll tell you what it wasn’t. It thankfully wasn’t another exploitative torture porn hackjob, which is sadly what passes for a “scary movie” today. It also wasn’t truly, nightmare-inducing scary like, say, The Exorcist or Blair Witch. (And I say this as a total wuss who gets terrified by horror films easily.) It was just a nice, creepy, old-fashioned horror movie that gave you a few jumps but overall left you with the chills rather than with screaming terror and/or grossed-out. And that’s a Good Thing.

I agree with Loup that the very last scene was useless. But not movie-ruining. 1408 is well-worth a matinee and is a nice summer time-passer. Better than everything else out at the moment, and you get to subsidize Johnny’s more artsy movies if you pay to see this one, so I say support the arts and give JC your entertainment dollar this week! What, would you rather that Jessica Alba had it?

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