STARRING: THOMAS JANE, MOLLY PARKER, DYLAN SCHMID, NEAL MCDONOUGH, BRIAN D’ARCY, KAITLYN BERNARD
DIRECTOR: ZAK HILDITCH
RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 20, 2017
Netflix’s 1922 is the latest adaptation of Stephen King’s novella of the same name published in his 2010 collection, “Full Dark, No Stars”.
“In 1922, I murdered my wife,” confesses Wilfred “Wilf” James (Thomas Jane) in a low growl that is nefarious and grimacing aided with daunting off-key random strikes of a guitar. It’s as if he is performing a Shakespearean soliloquy but one of murder. 1922 is a first-person account of how a man becomes riddled with guilt. Wilf James is a Nebraskan, perpetually sweating farmer who lives on an 80-acre farm with his wife Arlette (Molly Parker) and 14-year-old son Henry (Dylan Schmid). He is a proud man who firmly believes that a man’s pride is a man’s land. He works the fields during the day and sits on his porch, drinking lemonade in the evenings peering over his palace. Suddenly his palace is destroyed as his wife suggests that they move to the city. He believes that cities are for fools. This is a proposal that sets into the motion of madness and depravity. If Wilf does not comply, Arlette will take Henry and they will move.
Wilf hauntingly declares, “I believe that there is another man inside of every man, a stranger, a conniving man.” In 1922, a conniving man is awakened; he then conspires to kill his wife with help of his son. As Arlette sleeps, Wilf and Henry attempt to brutally stab her to death. After making a mess and failing to murder her, Wilf resorts to mauling her beyond recognition. She dies a horrible death and is tossed into a well among hungry rats.
1922 is not a horror movie, it is a tale of rabid manifested guilt, that, when festered, begins to gnaw at you until you descend into pure madness. Wilf is haunted by his actions quite literally as he turns into a pitiful shell of a man perpetually haunted by hundreds of mice, the nagging smell of rotten flesh and the sight of his decomposing wife. The success of the film lies in Thomas Jane who is remarkable in his role as Wilf. He encapsulates his role with tiny accentuations like his heavy husk accent, sharp scowls of anger, then his ultimate descension into decadence. He wonderfully portrays a man who is evocative yet human.
The film is truly terrifying but not in terms of horror and gore. It is because the film exemplifies the disturbing and uncomfortable truth of humanity—the conniving man in us all. 1922 receives 10 stars out of 10 stars.