1922 (Fantastic Fest): Stephen King's Novella Gets a Serviceable Adaptation - Dread Central
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1922 (Fantastic Fest): Stephen King’s Novella Gets a Serviceable Adaptation



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Starring Thomas Jane, Molly Quinn, Dylan Schmid, Kaitlyn Bernard

Directed by Zak Hilditch

2017 is the year of Stephen King. The Dark Tower, IT, Gerald’s Game, “The Mist”, “Castle Rock”, “Mr. Mercedes”… The prolific author is seeing adaptations being released in numbers that have never been seen before. Now we can add Netflix’s adaptation of the novella 1922, which will be hitting the streaming giant’s service on October 20th. However, we at Fantastic Fest got to see the film well before that release and the results were…meh.

1922 follows Wilfred James (Jane), a simple pre-Depression-era farmer who is down on his luck and having financial issues. He and his wife Arlette (Quinn) are having their own issues as she is technically the owner of the majority of the land he works on and she wants to sell it all so they can move to the city. Unhappy with this, he manipulates his son Henry (Schmid) into helping him murder her and cover the tracks. From there, both their lives begin to change as tensions rise, investigations mount, and everything starts to unravel.

Look, 1922 isn’t a bad movie, it’s just not an interesting one. While the production value is great and the film can often be quite beautiful to look at, there is an emptiness that pervades across the entirety of the movie. Furthermore, while the murder of Arlette is an event that occurs early in the story, it felt like it was done too quickly and with little regard to the act’s horror immediately following the bloodshed. This is a shocking, devastating moment that is used as a means by which to haunt Wilfred, so the act itself should bear that same gravitas.

To make matters worse, the only real character development we’re given of Arlette makes her seem like a horrible person. Nearly every interaction is her full of anger and disdain, which lessens the impact of her murder because, hey, why should I care about you when you’re not someone worth caring about? This failure to properly emphasize the pivotal moment of the story undermines everything that comes after.

Stephen King adaptations are very often a hit-or-miss affair and 1922 is no different. There will undoubtedly be audiences that find a lot to love and I won’t blame them. As I mentioned before, there’s great production value and the acting is quite good across the board (I’m now dying to see Thomas Jane play Tom Waits in a bio pic). Additionally, Mike Patton’s original score shifts from dry, raspy strings to subtle, almost synth pads, evoking conflicting textures which suit the confusion between reality and nightmare.

But if you’re looking for something engaging or haunting, 1922 is about as barren as Wilfred’s fallow fields.

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User Rating 3.5 (2 votes)







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