1922 is the latest Stephen King adaption this year. 2017 should really just be called the year of Stephen King. 1922 is a short story from the novel Full Dark, No Stars. It’s a tolerable story, one that I skimmed through in the book in favor of some of the better works, such as Big Driver or A Good Marriage. I was surprised when I found out this was going to be turned into a full-length film on Netflix. Director Zak Hilditch stays pretty close to the source material, which must have been quite the task, considering the novella was only 130 pages long.
Both the film and the story have a heavy similarity to Edgar Allen Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart. 1922 is told in flashbacks, as a possibly insane Wilfred has come to a hotel room to tell his story, haunted by ghosts he created. It’s possible our story is being told by an unreliable narrator, although this theme is not explored quite as well by King and Hilditch, as by Poe in The Tell-Tale Heart.
In 1922, farmer Wilfred James’ (Thomas Jane) wife, Arlette (Molly Parker), inherits 100 acres of land in Hemingford Home, Nebraska, from her father. Wilfred wants to increase the size of his property and farm, and pass the larger farm on to his son, Henry (Dylan Schmid). However, Arlette has other plans, and wants to sell the land for a sizable sum of money, so the family can move to Omaha and open a dress shop. Feeling the city is for fools, Wilfred refuses to part ways with his farm, so Arlette plans on divorcing him and taking their son with her. Wilfred decides to kill Arlette and cover up the murder with the help of his son. It doesn’t take long before Wilfred is consumed by guilt. The film then chronicles his descent further and further into madness.
The film isn’t a slow burn, it is just boring. There isn’t much happening here. Perhaps if the tale was shorter, say, part of an anthology series, it might have worked. I really feel there just wasn’t enough subject matter for a full-length film. The visuals aren’t particularity intriguing, the soundtrack is minimal and the script is just… OK. There just really isn’t that much about this movie that stands out. Horror fans won’t even find the gore particularly worth the time spent to get there. There is no interesting moral lessen here, other than, perhaps, killing people is bad. The film and its source material just falls a tad flat.
This doesn’t mean I think the movie is completely a waste. I think fans of Edgar Allen Poe will enjoy a new take on the old Tell-tale Heart story and the dark aesthetics at the end of the movie. It’s watchable and let’s be honest, not every Netflix original gets that distinction. I’d suggest watching this film as part of a binge marathon. Big Driver and A Good Marriage have both been turned into films and it might be more interesting to watch all three movies in succession.
I give 1922 two and a half stars, mostly for the interesting similarities to the work of Poe. 1922 is now streaming on Netflix.