Horrortoberfest ’22 Day 22 – 1922 (2017)

I figured I would keep on going with Netflix based movie with years as the title and just happened to luck into this perfectly slotting in there. I didn’t intend for my 22nd review in 2022 to be 1922 but here we are and I think that’s just neat. I never read the Stephen King story that this was based on but I’ve heard that it is a pretty faithfully adaptation. While a far cry from being an instant classic, this movie manages to deliver on the horror of a man’s slow disintegration.

The framing convention for the film is a man’s confession to the murder of his wife in the year 1922. Wilford James (Thomas Jane), is a farmer that lives in Nebraska with his wife Arlette and his son Henry. They have 180 acres with 80 of that being Wilford’s and the other 100 left to Arlette when her dad died. Arlette wants to sell her acres and move to the city so she can open a dress shop and leave the rural life behind. Wilford, however, thinks cities are for fools and wants no part of that life but he can’t convince her to change her mind and when she goes, she’ll take Henry as well. Plus she wants to sell the land to hog farmers which would essentially ruin the other 80 acres for farming. So, instead of coming to any kind of other agreement, Wilford convinces his son that the only way he can stay here with his girlfriend and live a good life is to kill his mother. The guilt and remorse from this act will then destroy their lives and the lives of those around them.

The first act of this film is damn near perfect as the slow machinations of Wilford begin to prey upon his son. The stifling, claustrophobic feeling of these three characters interacting is brought to life wonderfully through both performance and visuals. The cinematography in this movie is gorgeous with these wide beautiful shots containing dark clouds or skies painted in crimson sunset. Thomas Jane also portrays the main character to be conniving and intelligent, with an intimidating charisma as he lays out how Henry will lose everything he loves if his mother manages to drag him to Omaha. I love that the movie doesn’t make Wilford fall into the stereotype of “simple country farmer”. He is a cold, calculating man that only begins to show remorse for this heinous actions as the consequences of what he has done begin to rot his soul from the inside out.

Unfortunately, the 2nd and 3rd acts suffer from some pacing issues. I know that the film is meant to be a look at a man that slowly goes insane and loses everything but it is a bit too slow in that decent at times. You could easily cut 10-20 minutes of the movie belaboring all the things that Wilford has lost as a consequence of his actions and it would feel much tighter. I also think it’s hilarious that Thomas Jane puts on this incredibly thick, almost unintelligible country accent but literally everyone else in the movie apparently didn’t get the memo and barely bothers with an affectation at all. I don’t hate the accent but wither having everyone else join in or scaling it back a touch would cause the scenes where he interacts with other people to be a tad less jarring.

Not a great movie by any stretch but definitely a good one. If you’re scrolling through Netflix, looking for something to keep your attention for a while; you could do much worse than 1922.

Score: 3.5 out of 5

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