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Film Review – 1922 (2017)

As of late, Hollywood just can’t get enough of Stephen King.  Netflix has released two King adaptations this year alone, with the second of the two entitled 1922, the story of a farmer who kills his wife.  Based on the novella of the same name, 1922 is another round of psychological horror from the master himself.  The following review will be spoiler free.

1922

Synopsis

Directed By: Zak Hilditch

Written By: Zak Hilditch

Starring: Thomas Jane, Molly Parker, Dylan Schmid, and Neal McDonough

Wilfred James (Jane) lives by his land and his work on his farm.  However, his wife, Arlette (Parker) is less than enthused about the idea of staying on the farm, threatening to sell the land (their farm was passed down from her side of the family) and divorce Wilfred.  So that this fate won’t occur, Wilfred talks his son, Henry (Schmid), into killing Arlette with him, doing away with her once and for all.

However, after completing the deed, Wilfred’s life begins to unravel.  Convinced that he’s cursed, Wilfred’s guilt starts to consume him as he slowly loses his mind.

Background

For whatever reason, Hollywood just can’t get enough of Stephen King in recent months.  There has been four, I repeat, FOUR Stephen King adaptations since August.  The Dark Tower, It, Gerald’s Game, and now 1922 all have had a 2017 release.  Obviously, all of these projects were in production before the massive success of It back in September.  So what exactly caused all these adaptations to come out right around each other?

I may have led you into a rabbit hole that just isn’t there with that question, because King has been all over film for decades.  You know his more iconic adaptations like Shawshank or The Green Mile, but the king of horror has had his work produced into films consistently.  In fact, there’s been 23 different adaptations of King’s work since 2001 alone.  Basically, the man just can’t stop writing, and we can’t get enough of it.

As Netflix looks to produced more critically acclaimed original films into the future, I’d say it’s pretty wise that they’re partnering with a writer that has a very proven track record when the right team is involved in the film.

Thomas Jane Gives the Best Performance of his Career

For some reason, Thomas Jane just loves Stephen King, because 1922 is his third adaptation of King’s of which he’s taken part (Dreamcatchers, The Mist).  You’ve seen him in other work like The Punisher and other, more character-driven roles, but you’ve never seen him like this.  1922 contains Jane’s best work by far as an actor, proving why he’s been able to make a solid career in the industry.

Jane channels his inner Jeff Bridges, sporting an incredibly thick, Southern accent that makes it seem like he has marbles rolling around inside his mouth.  Even the most mundane pieces of dialogue are truly fascinating with his deliberate cadence that is both strong and unsettling.

Acting as an unreliable narrator and star of the story, Jane has disappeared into this role.  His gruff, tough attitude is fully on display, becoming this unlikable, yet incredibly engrossing figure that has a serious presence onscreen.  The idea of grief and guilt is told completely through his eyes, encapsulating us more and more by the second.

Tension Created By Great Control of Atmosphere

1922 can be firmly described as an “atmospheric movie.”  To some that means boring, but to others it’s a masterful play on the building of tension in the themes of the film.  From the opening shot, you become instantly aware of the uneasy feeling of the movie.  Calling this film a “horror movie” would mislead a lot of viewers.  Rather, it’s a tension-filled, ocassionally grisly look into how guilt manifests one’s mind and feelings.  Those looking for a scare-filled horror will sadly disappointed.  Instead, 1922 focuses on character and building an amazing world full of rich scenery.

Just look at that beauty:

1922 takes its time by letting visuals and scenes drag out for proper effect.  Sometimes, this can get a little nauseating (more on that below), but most of the time it’s in service to an idea that the film is trying to convey to the audiences.  Before engaging, be aware that 1922 is verrrrrrrrry slow and doesn’t really care about your attention span.

But, for those that want a rewarding, engrossing family drama with a few psychological elements, you’re in for a treat.  1922 even has one of the most effecting scores of recent memory.

1922 isn’t Great Due to Lacking Dramatic Heft

However, there are moments in 1922 where you can’t help but say, “C’mon, get on with it!”  Director Zak Hilditch does a great job of instilling the correct feeling into you with visuals and performances, but sometimes you just can’t help but feel as if moments were dragged out in order to get the film to what’s considered “feature length.”

The idea will be more than competently understood and drawn out from the material on screen, but then the movie will sometimes find it necessary to overexplain or linger on moments that just don’t add much to the feel of the story.

1922 is a King novella rather than a full novel.  You can definitely feel that the movie is trying to grasp for more material to improve the final product.

Final Thoughts

1922 might be a little stretched thin from its source material, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is a highly effective look into guilt and dread.  Sporting Thomas Jane’s best performance of his career, every bit of this movie chews the scenery in the best way possible.  It’s definitely very slow in pace, but there’s no doubt that 1922 is a quality movie to watch during your next Netflix binge session.  It gets a B+.

Considering the most recent films out in theaters aren’t exactly well-received by other critics, this may be the film that holds you over until the calendar changes to November.

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Thanks for reading!  What are your thoughts concerning 1922?  Comment down below!

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Nick Kush

A current young professional, Nick founded MovieBabble in October of 2016 in order to provide insightful film analysis that is meant to educate and entertain. Nick is also a member of the Internet Film Critics Society. You can follow Nick at the official MovieBabble Twitter account @MovieBabble_

8 Responses

  1. I just watched this yesterday and wondered what you thought about it. I really like your review.

  2. Thanks for the review! I’ve been wondering whether I should put 1922 on my watch list.

  3. Another good review! Since we’re on a huge Stephen King kick for this year, I’ve got a really good request for Halloween! This film was written by King himself, directed by the late George Romero and had some effects done by Tom Savini. For Halloween, let’s see you try your hands with an anthology film: “Creepshow”!

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