Film Review: “1922” Offers Solid Creeps

Book cover: “1922”

1922 (Zak Hilditch, 2017) 3 out of 4 stars.

Based on a 2010 Stephen King story of the same title, from his collection Full Dark, No Stars, the new Netflix film 1922 tells a gruesome morality tale of crime and punishment where no one escapes the consequences of an evil deed. Led by an excellent Thomas Jane (Before I Wake), the cast delivers solid performances all around, with Molly Parker (Jackie Sharp on Netflix’s House of Cards) and Dylan Schmid (Nick on Hulu’s Shut Eye) rounding out the leads. The film also features solid period production design and a mostly strong script (from writer/director Zak Hilditch, These Final Hours). Though small in its narrative ambitions, it delivers the dramatic payoff with a satisfying punch. If it occasionally disappoints in its expositional dialogue, it makes up for this with its near-constant atmosphere of dread and unease. This is, after all, the world of horror master King.

Jane plays Wilf (short for Wilfred) James, a Midwestern farmer down on his luck. It may be 7 years before the start of the Great Depression, but he’s already in need of help. His wife, Arlette (Parker) has some inherited land coming her way, but since they don’t get along, she plans to sell it to an outside outfit and take off with their teenage son, Henry (Schmid). It’s this last threat that galls most of all: how dare the woman take the boy from his father? What, then, will be his legacy, especially if he loses the farm? And so Wilf plots a grizzly way out that doesn’t quite go as expected, leaving him literally haunted by his deed, suffering the wages of sin. It may not be particularly original, but the details are well-realized, and the film moves along at a brisk pace. A minor King adaptation, perhaps, but a good one.

Thomas Jane in “1922” ©Netflix

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About chrisreedfilm

Christopher Llewellyn Reed is a film critic, filmmaker, and educator. He is the lead film critic at hammertonail.com, an online magazine devoted to independent cinema; a regular film critic at filmfestivaltoday.com; the host of Dragon Digital Media’s award-winning "Reel Talk with Christopher Llewellyn Reed"; a regular film commentator for the "Roughly Speaking” podcast with Dan Rodricks at "The Baltimore Sun"; an occasional writer for the magazine bmoreart.com; and the author of "Film Editing: Theory and Practice."
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