”We all got — what do you call it when you identify with your captor? — Stockholm syndrome,” John Cusack says cheerfully about filming 1408, which is based on EW contributor Stephen King’s short story centered on a hotel suite that transforms into each guest’s personal hell. ”Whenever we got out of the room, we were saying, ‘This isn’t right. We have to get back!”’
Either it was Stockholm syndrome, or the suite had one mother of a minibar. The 40-year-old actor plays Mike Enslin, a writer fixated on the occult since the death of his young daughter (Jasmine Jessica Anthony). Enslin, who pens books debunking famously haunted locales, ”goes around to these places where there are supposed to be specters or ghosts…. He’s almost daring the gods to prove that he’s not alone,” says Cusack. ”And he gets his wish.” The bad hoodoo goes down when the writer checks into room 1408 at the fictional Dolphin Hotel in New York to research his next book, despite a warning from the hotel manager (Samuel L. Jackson) that no tenant has ever survived for more than an hour. The place must get a lot of business.
”Hotel rooms are great arenas for drama,” says director Mikael Hâfström (Derailed). ”When we walk into one, we wonder: Did somebody go insane in this room? Did somebody die in this room?” There was another basic question plaguing the filmmakers as well: ”It was like, wait a minute, can we do this?” says Cusack. ”It’s just me and a room. How do you make this exciting?” Easy: Just add water. And molten lava. And a blizzard. Hâfström says the effects sequences required them to build at least seven versions of room 1408, including a particularly elaborate one that ”turns into an old, sinking ship.” And while the director says he relished the challenge of filming a movie within four walls, he also acknowledges that his next project might have to be a little more expansive: ”An epic Western would be absolutely fantastic right now.” (July 13)