An Eerie Disturbance
1922 isn’t unique nor even that scary either. But like any Stephen King novel-based film, the story keeps us engaged in its cold-blooded nature: A father convincing a son to murder his mother in 1920s America.
The plot is easy to follow — farmer Wilf opposes his wife Arlette’s desire to move to Omaha, and she makes it pretty easy for their son, Henry, to despise her through derogatory remarks. After we get a feel for their family dynamic, Wilf convinces Henry to help him kill Arlette for financial gain. But once they commit the murder, they both must come to terms with their actions as her death haunts them.
Horror fans who go for the gore would enjoy this flick. Director Zak Hilditch doesn’t hesitate in literally gnawing off your eyes when you get a full glimpse of rats chewing on Arlette’s corpse. The rats are, of course, a major symbol throughout the movie. We’re unsure whether or not Wilf is actually seeing them around his house or if it’s his imagination, as his wife haunts his every move. Even long after her death, the bloody future Henry and Wilf endure is as bone-chilling cold as the winter weather around them. We see how Wilf’s selfish decision impacts his son’s entire life with his young, pregnant wife. As the “sweetheart bandits,” the couple experience a violent path with a graphic future.
In spite of this, 1922 doesn’t quite frighten its audience as effectively as it could. Arlette’s ghost could be much more frightening as she stalks her killer husband. Sadly, her zombie-like figure just doesn’t jolt the audience. Other ghost stories like The Conjuring effectively use blurry background figures to scare the characters, and psychological thrillers such as Last Night in Soho have the gore yet incorporate a better build-up to a frightening climax. 1922 has several moments with potential but, instead, it spreads itself a little too thin. Yes, Wilf’s slow deterioration is the main disturbance however, it’s not the strongest cinematic weapon. Perhaps if Wilf woke up in the middle of the night to Arlette’s oozing gross corpse it would have been a solid scare for viewers. Or, what if she somehow influenced his dreams to replay her gruesome murder? Instead of just having her whisper in Wilf’s ear, the film could have prolonged her eventual entrance.
There are many ideas that 1922 could have used to strengthen its fear factor. It’s true that horrors and thrillers aren’t always about the scares, and Stephen King’s literary works don’t always keep fans up at night. However, a film’s enhancement of a story doesn’t necessarily ruin the original plot. If the director makes strong choices, then the audience could get a real thrill from the movie and feel more inclined to read the actual work.
Nevertheless, there is one impactful aspect that viewers have to grapple with: Wilf’s initial nonchalant, blasé behavior after committing the murder. Mentoring Henry to behave the same is even more sinister and it’s this that stays with the audience after the movie ends.
As for the cast, each actor gave a solid performance. Thomas Jane’s portrayal of Wilf shined the most. Internalizing any feeling, especially remorse, is difficult to convey, but Jane successfully does it — not to mention, of course, his convincing performance of carrying out a murder as if he’s just working in the fields; a daily task. And Dylan Schmid effortlessly plays naive teenager Henry, who’s in way over his head. However, Schmid didn’t only bring a youthful charm to the character. He also stuns viewers through his willingness to help his father get rid of his mother.
Overall, 1922 may have been better if it were a miniseries rather than a full-length film. Each episode could have given a more detailed picture of Wilf’s guilt-ridden decay. However, Hilditch did the best with what he was given and provided an eerie and disturbing account of King’s novella.
1922 (2017) Official Netflix Trailer
|Elisabeth joined Dead Talk News in 2022 and loves movies and TV! After working for various sites, including Screen Rant and Showbiz Cheat Sheet, Elisabeth joined DTN to critique and review various movies, from horror flicks to Disney live-actions.|