A swift, sharp adaptation of Stephen King's short story, 1408 may be a fairly unassuming achievement as supernatural thrillers go. But if you don't bring to it blockbuster expectations, you will experience an artfully sustained atmosphere of dread and a ghost story with an eye toward the mind games people play on themselves in times of crisis.
Like many King stories (this one from the Everything's Eventual collection), it's about a nonbeliever who comes to believe. John Cusack can play cynical, bored characters in his sleep and, it must be said, sometimes has. Here, though, portraying a travel writer specializing in allegedly haunted locales, the actor deploys his deadpan cool very artfully in the service of a man who has suffered a traumatic loss and is doing his best to skate over the memories.
1408 (Dimension Films) Starring John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson. Mary McCormack. Directed by Mikael Hafstrom. Rated PG-13. Time 94 minutes.