1922 – USA, 2017 – reviews

  
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1922 is a 2017 American horror feature film written and directed by Zak Hilditch for Netflix, based on the 2010 Stephen King novella of the same title. The movie stars Thomas Jane, Molly Parker and Dylan Schmid. Mike Patton, of rock band Faith No More, composed the soundtrack score.

The film premiered on Netflix on October 20, 2017. According to Movieweb, Stephen King has seen a rough cut of the movie and felt it was “super creepy” and that it “won’t leave his mind.”

Wilfred James, a farmer in Nebraska, owns farmland that have been in his family for generations. His wife Arlette owns adjoining land willed to her by her father. Arlette wants to move to Omaha. She seeks to sell her land to a livestock company for use as a pig farm and slaughterhouse. If she does so, Wilfred will be forced to sell as well. Wilfred resorts to manipulating his teenaged son, Henry, into helping him murder his own mother.

As part of their plot, Wilfred and a reluctant Henry get Arlette drunk. Arlette proceeds to make crude remarks about Henry’s girlfriend, Shannon, which angers the boy enough to commit to Wilfred’s plot.

After taking Arlette to bed, Wilfred brutally slashes her throat with a butcher knife. Wilfred and Henry then dump the body in a well. Later, as Wilfred dumps his blood-soaked mattress into the well with Arlette, he notices that her body has become infested with rats.

Wilfred decides to fill in the well to hide the body, so purposefully has one of his aged cows fall in the well to provide a cover story for filling it in. Wilfred and Henry fill the well, but a rat crawls out of the soil. Henry kills it, but is convinced that Arlette is now haunting them…

Reviews [click links to read more]:

1922 remains effective thanks to Jane’s revelatory work and a bristling sense of dread, proving that the slow, rotting disintegration of one’s psyche is far scarier than any evil clown.” Benjamin Lee, The Guardian

“An extremely talented cast with an equally fantastic score by Mike Patton, this film should work more than it does. It’s a slow burn that lacks the punch needed in the payoff to make the journey worth it. On that level I don’t think it succeeds. The story itself is compelling enough, punctuated by some really creepy moments.” Meagan Navarro, Modern Horrors

1922 is a terrific example of just how powerful horror movies can be. Not only does writer-director Zak Hilditch employ a gorgeous, psychological slow-burn approach to the storytelling, he punctuates it with sudden bursts of visceral horror. It’s a film that strides just as confidently through scenes of duplicitous dialogue as it does in moments of shocking gore.” Rohan Naahar, Hindustan Times

“Early on it brushes against themes of early 20th century proto-feminism, as a historical saga about men getting rid of a woman they view as an obstacle, realizing too late their horrible mistake. But that idea gets dropped quickly in favor of a slowly paced, formulaic retread of Poe’s The Black Cat, crossed – in a particularly gruesome fashion – with Lovecraft’s The Rats in the Walls.” William Bibbiani, IGN

“Not exactly a horror tale, it’s more of a brooding drama with flecks of nastiness scattered throughout. The sinister atmosphere conjured by Hilditch (via King) is compelling for a patient viewer, however, and if you’re predisposed to enjoying movies based on King books then there is a very decent chance you’ll be caught up in 1922.” Eric Walkuski, Arrow in the Head

” …reaches heights of Grand Guignol that are familiar to the work of Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft, including a few of the creepiest and most vividly disgusting images of rats to appear in American cinema since Of Unknown Origin.” Chuck Bowen, Slant

” …a solid Stephen King adaptation that should appease fans of the writer, as well as viewers in the mood for a slow-burn character study. Netflix seems like the perfect outlet for a film such as this, as it is perhaps too small to reach a wider, theatrical audience, but should gain traction on the streaming platform.” Chris Agar, ScreenRant

“Sure, the pace drags a bit here and there, and it’s not quite as scary as the newest rendition of IT or the squirm-inducing Gerald’s Game, but there’s something quaint and wonderfully old-fashioned about 1922 that makes it charming in its own right […] The good parts are scattered here and there…” Kalyn Corrigan, Bloody Disgusting

…1922 falls somewhere in the middle of the King adaptations we have seen this year, and despite its flaws, delivers an entertaining story that is small and self-contained in a good way. There are legitimate thrills to be had, and Jane’s performance is a solid addition to his already admirable resume.” Roger Maléspin, Cryptic Rock

“Hilditch deserves credit for generating and sustaining suspense throughout a slow-burning drama that is more fatalistically tragic than traditionally horrific, and for delivering the goods when old-fashioned shocks are called for.” Joe Leydon, Variety

“The pulpy period piece, Poe-like in its focus on gnawing guilt, should rank in the high middle when scholars of King cinema judge it against other adaptations; casual moviegoers, though, may feel it a bit slight — not quite well-developed enough as a straight fiction, not quite scary enough to scratch the genre itch.” John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter

“Although Hilditch pares down the psychological insights of King’s story, Jane’s performance, all mumbles and clenched teeth, conveys Wilfred’s guilt and anguish, and the jolts of horror are deployed at proper intervals. The methodical pacing falls apart a bit toward the end, but by then, Wilfred’s grim fate is already sealed.” Josh Bell, Las Vegas Weekly

Choice dialogue:

Wilfred James: “Waiting for a teenage boy to come to his senses is like waiting for a broomstick to sprout flowers.”

Wilfred James: “Sometimes work is the only thing that drives out bad thoughts.”

Main cast:

  • Thomas Jane as Wilfred James – The Predator; Before I Wake; The VeilThe Mist; The Tripper; She-Wolf of London
  • Dylan Schmid as Henry/Hank James
  • Molly Parker as Arlette James
  • Neal McDonough as Harlan Cotterie – The HitcherRavenous
  • Brian d’Arcy James as Sheriff Jones

Filming locations:

Vancouver, Canada

Related:

Attack of the Rats – article

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