Monday, August 20, 2018

Movie Review: Stephen King's 1922 (2017) Starring Thomas Jane


Director: Zak Hilditch
Genre: Crime, Drama, Horror
Starring: Thomas Jane, Molly Parker, Dylan Schmid, Kaitlyn Bernard, Neal McDonough, Brian d'Arcy James
Runtime: 102 min
Rating: TV-MA
Purchasing Links: Netflix

Read the review after the jump.


Review by Popa Razvan

Stephen King has always been a popular choice for big and small screen adaptations, but even so, the buzz surrounding his works has increased tenfold when "It" smashed box-office records in 2017. Netflix was the first to quickly cash in on the rising trend, releasing not one, but two adaptations in the Fall of 2017: "Gerald's Game" and "1922". The latter will be the subject of the present review.

1922 Stephen King Movie Image 1

Written and directed by Zak Hilditch ("These Final Hours") based on King's novella of the same name, the film tells the story of a Nebraska farmer, Wilfred "Wilf" James (Thomas Jane) whose marriage begins to fall apart when his wife, Arlette (Molly Parker), who has grown tired of the country life, begins to pressure him to move to the city. She intends to sell her adjoining one-hundred acres inherited from her father and open a dress shop in Omaha, which conflicts with Wilf's plans as his own land would no longer be farmable and he would be forced to sell, as well. Unwilling to give up on his landowner dream, Wilf coaxes his son into helping him murder Arlette. Together they hide the body in a dry well. Once the deed is done, even though things seem to settle just fine at first, Wilf eventually finds himself haunted by the crime he committed, and soon discovers that the consequences are more severe than he ever could have imagined.

It's not an easy watch, and it might not be everyone's cup of tea. The story is built around Wilf's written confession in the present, recounting his long painful history, and the slow pacing might be a turn off for most. There also isn't much emotional involvement for the viewer to exercise. We're simply witnesses to a man's moral decay, his journey on a path towards damnation, and the suffering caused by his actions. Furthermore, Wilf isn't really worthy of sympathy, which does leave an emotional void at the film's core. We're simply along for the ride, listening to a man unburden his sins and all we can do is evaluate the weight of those sins. It's an incredibly bleak and depressing story, as Wilf descends into madness and perdition, the world around him slowly falling apart and the things he was so eager to secure, becoming more and more out of reach.

1922 Stephen King Movie Image 4

Unlike most other stories written by King that many of you may know, this one doesn't necessarily have a supernatural element. Even though Wilf is haunted by images of his dead wife and the rats that infested her corpse, these apparently supernatural events could simply be hallucinations brought on by his guilty conscience. This ambiguity sets the film's tone as it becomes a visual representation of how misdeeds linger in the dark corners of the mind and rot the soul. It might not be subtle, but its devilishly effective.

1922 Stephen King Movie Image 3

Depressing as the movie may be, it's always engrossing, like a trainwreck you can't look away from. Hilditch has a strong grip on the story he's telling and knows how to twist it in just the right ways to make it constantly compelling. The film's greatest asset is Thomas Jane, who delivers what is probably the best performance of his career. And I don't say that lightly. I've always considered Jane a good actor, but I didn't actually think he was capable of this kind of depth. It's a subtle portrayal, never forced, full of nuance, the kind that makes the actor disappear inside the character. Genuinely excellent work from beginning to end. Another aspect of the production worthy of mention is Ben Richardson's cinematography, which brings the story to life in all its dark complexity.

1922 Stephen King Movie Image 2

Like I said, 1922" isn't for everyone. Horror fans might get a kick out of its dark psychological chills, and those enjoying a solid moralistic tale, albeit terribly depressing, should also check it out. The film's bleak story requires patience, but if you can get into its groove, it can prove to be a rewarding experience.



  • Excellently told story of sin and conscience
  • Thomas Jane's incredible performance
  • Solid cinematography
  • Always compelling despite its bleak story

  • Occasionally too bleak for its own good
  • Glacial pacing



No comments:

Post a Comment

Please keep the comments as civilised as possible, and refrain from spamming. All comments will be moderated. Thank you !