1922, written and directed by Zak Hilditch, lacks anything that might possibly make it a creepy, suspenseful, meaningful watch. It rushes to get to a particular scene, but once it’s seen it through, the film seems lost as to what to then do. To me, it was clear what to do, but apparently not for the people telling the story or making the film. But is this spooky looking film one that would be good during Halloween? Well, let’s explore what the film has and find out.
Based upon a novella written by, Stephen King, we follow, Wilfred James – played by Thomas Jane – and Arlette James – played by Molly Parker – who are a married couple that are on the precipice of divorce. Arlette wishes to sell the farmland that is rightfully hers and move to the big city, but James and their son, Henry James – played by Dylan Schmid – wish to stay and work on the farm. Exhausting all other options, James manipulates, Henry into helping him kill his mother and live out the rest of their days farming. However, the unthinkable act that they commit, will haunt them for the rest of their days, which might not be as long as they’d hoped.
So, I’m once again writing about a film where by rushing through its first act, it subsequently harmed my engagement with the film, going forward. Both, The Mountain Between Us and The Snowman were films where I had to write about this issue, and much to my frustration, I’m doing it again with, 1922. I just don’t seem to be having any luck recently.
By the end of the first act of this film, I had no investment in the story, I did not care about any of the characters and I had no interest in seeing them now deal with the problem that they had caused for themselves. Right off the bat, Wilfred and Arlette do not feel like a married couple. They seemed more like strangers, reluctantly living with one another, and neither of them were ever likeable to watch.
So before the film even fully found its rhythm, I felt disconnected and disinterested in what it had. I’m tired of films that rush through their set-up and establishing of the characters and general surroundings. I understand that they want to get to the juicy parts of the story and play with the more fun to create content. But without a proper base, the rest of the structure of the film fails to be built out and soon its instability brings the film crumbling down into a pile of nothing.
One of the interesting elements the film had to work with, was Wilfred’s manipulation of his son, and convincing him to help in the murdering of his mother. Just take a second to think about how unbelievably messed up that is… That right there could be a whole chunk of your first act. But the film just skims through it and almost seems to forcibly put in scenes that make it work out in a quick, simple way. It’s a situation where no one feels like a person; rather they are characters doing things for the sake of the plot. I can’t stress enough, how much I did not care about the characters in this film. I was never given any reason to want to know their story and I at no point cared about what would become of them.
All the film seemed interested in getting too, was the murder of, Annette (which isn’t a spoiler, as it’s shown in the trailer). And while that scene is distressing to watch, once it is finished the film seems to lose a sense of what to then do. Other than the Sheriff coming around to search for Annette, there isn’t really much effort put into that part of the story. Instead other plot points spring up and in a very heavy-handed way, try to create conflict or difficult situations for Wilfred.
But again, the problem is that at this point I had lost all care or attention in the film. These new points in the story don’t stir up anything interesting and they still failed to form the characters into people worth watching. I hoped the film would then fall back on the only possible element that might save the film from being completely dull… but nope.
Wilfred has murdered his wife; his son is pulling away from him and wants to run off with his first love. Here, we should get to watch the slow, agonising descent of a terrible person. And to be fair to the film, it does do that but not in a way that made the film at any point compelling. I just didn’t care anymore. I had no one – I had nothing that made me want to engage and watch the film by that point. I wanted it to be over. For Wilfred to get what he deserves and for the world to move on without him.
And if the film had maybe done that in a way that capitalised on his hallucinations, then maybe at least the film could have had some tense, scary moments to it. But there is no atmosphere to the film. Other than some creepy looking shots, a score that tries desperately to create some sort of mood or atmosphere (but is unable to, due to the lack of substance to the film) and some cinematography that caught my eye more than once, there was just no point where the film stirred an emotion within me. This must be how people feel when the go to watch bad, lazy horror films where all they’re looking for is for something to jump at the screen and make them feel something. For once, I was one of those people desperately wanting the film to descend into being a cheap horror experience, because at least then I would feel something.
I have now watched 4 films this year, based upon Stephen King’s work – two of them were great (It and Gerald’s Game) and two of them were really bad (The Dark Tower and now 1922). I have nothing left to say about this film, other than that it was a slog to get through. Boring and uninteresting… that’s what it is.
I DO NOT recommend, 1922. I’ve said all that I need to say at this point. A final conclusion would only bring out more negativity. Don’t see this film – even with it being easily available on Netflix.
I’d really like to know what you thought of my review, so please leave any feedback etc. in the comments section down below. If you liked what you read, may I suggest following both my blog and my Twitter –@GavinsRamblings. But I’ll bring this review to a close now and thank you for taking the time to read my work and I hope you have a wonderful day!