Beyond the superficial similarities to The Shining, 1408 comes across as more of a horror version of Groundhog Day than anything else. Once Mike is trapped in 1408, he goes on an emotional journey, learns some things about himself and briefly becomes a happier person. Then the room threatens to do it all over again to him. Hell, there's even a clock radio that keeps playing the same song over and over ("We've Only Just Begun" by the Carpenters in this case). This being a horror movie, though, he doesn't waltz out of his prison with the girl in his arms and a spring in his step at the end. Rather, he definitely burns the room and himself only to discover that his ghost remains stuck in the room, anyway.
I can't say I'm the biggest John Cusack fan in the world, but the guy is playing his A game here, no doubt. He has to carry almost the entire movie by himself, showing skeptical Mike slowing going insane from the tortures 1408 puts him through. When Mike is reunited with his daughter, only to have her die in his arms... I'd have to say that one of the most powerfully sad scenes I've seen in a horror film recently thanks to Cusack's convincing performance.
I'm glad I grabbed the director's cut from Netflix. Reading about the theatrical cut, it sounds like the typical result of listening to the dipshits in test audiences too closely. A happy ending where everything is A-OK in the end? So the super-evil hotel room was really just a method of making Mike a better man? Gee whiz. Maybe we should start sentencing prisoners to stay in that room then, since the ghosts just want to better humanity?
Watched: DVD from The Weinstein Company.