Screamfest Movie Review: 1922

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1922, the latest film from director Zak Hilditch (These Final Hours), is based off of a Stephen King novella, and is a slow burn horror film that perfectly captures the monstrosities that humans can commit out of pride and selfishness. The film stars Thomas Jane (The Mist), Molly Parker (The Road), Dylan Schmid (“Once Upon a Time”), Kaitlyn Bernard (Cadence), and Neal McDonough (“Legends of Tomorrow”). 

1922 tells the story of Wilfred James (Jane), a simple farmer with a wife and a son, in the year 1922. One day, his wife Arlette (Parker), decides that she would like to move to the city and sell the one-hundred acres of farmland that was given to her by her father. Wilfred detests the idea of moving to the city, but knows that if his wife sells the land she owns, he will lose everything, including the farm. Faced with no other option, Wilfred conspires with his son, Henry (Schmid), to murder Arlette so that they can continue living their lives undisturbed. 

Though this film took me awhile to get into, once I understood its groove I was hooked. What really sells this film is the performances, especially that of Thomas Jane. Having been a fan of his for some time, and loving the fact that he is in quite a few Stephen King adaptations, I was blown away by his performance as Wilfred James. Though this film has horror elements to it, the core of the movie is a character study in which we watch Wilfred come to terms with what he’s done and the horrifying consequences from his actions. Also, watching the transformation that Henry goes through, along with the effects that it causes his girlfriend Shannon (Bernard), is just as tragic and heartbreaking. Dylan Schmid did a phenomenal job acting across from Jane and their chemistry worked perfectly in terms of a father/son relationship that's beginning to tear apart.  

The horror aspect is played out in both the dreary backdrop of 1920’s Nebraska as well as the supernatural angle. The landscape is not one that is forgiving and the blood, sweat, and tears that it takes to run a farm, in all weather conditions, are showcased throughout the duration of the film. However, what really gets the blood pumping are the more supernatural aspects that present themselves. As the story moves along after the murder of Arlette, strange occurrences begin to happen within the home. Rats become a prominent fixture early on, most notably when Arlette’s body is disposed. It’s a scene that is disturbing and unsettling and sets the tone for what is ultimately to come. 

1922 is a quiet film that doesn’t need to rely on over-the-top effects to get it’s point across. It’s a film that is able to show both sides of the coin: the horrors that humans are capable of and a supernatural being hell-bent on vengeance. It’s a movie that will leave you feeling uneasy and will take a few days to shake off. With that said, the production value, cinematography and art direction are beautifully done. I would have loved the chance to have seen this film on the big screen but even though I won’t get that chance it still reads well on my television. Director Zak Hilditch has created something remarkable with 1922 and has done justice to the short story by Stephen King. If you are looking for a film this weekend that will leave you unsettled, then make sure to check out 1922, exclusively on Netflix. 

Devastatingly Yours,
Shannon M. 

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