Review: '1922', Another Great Addition To Netflix's Original Catalog

“I believe that there is another man living inside every man…a conniving man.” These chilling words muttered by Wilfred James (Thomas Jane) in 1922 will go on to be the backbone of Zak Hilditch’s Stephen King adaptation. Zak Hilditch not only directs the film, but he also created the screenplay from the King novella of the same name.

1922 tells the story of Wilfred James, a farmer living in Nebraska in, you guessed it, 1922. He has an 80 acre farm that he lives on with his son Henry (Dylan Schmid) and his wife Arlette (Molly Parker). Arlette’s father passes away and leaves her a 100 acre plot of land. Wilfred wants to keep the land because back then, a man’s pride was his land and his son. The more land he had, the more he would be respected. Arlette has ideas of her own about the land and is in discussion with another company to sell it. She wants to take that money and move the family to Omaha or St. Louis where she can own a dress shop. Wilfred is completely opposed to this idea and is steadfast in the thought that cities are for fools.

Running out of options, Arlette threatens to divorce Wilfred. Wilfred has the realization that he had come to hate his wife. Wilfred’s nonchalant proclamation about this epiphany is one of the first indications that the conniving man inside is beginning to take more and more control. This man makes it clear to Wilfred that he must do the unthinkable, kill his wife. Before that can happen, he needs to make sure that his boy is on his side. What better way to do that then manipulating a first love. Henry has developed a relationship with the girl next door, Shannon. The conniving man sees his chance to strike and convinces Henry that Arlette was trying to take him away from Shannon. If only Henry’s mom was gone, then everything would be the way it was and be good – the arguments and fight would be over and Henry and his father could finally live in peace. Eventually Henry cracks and Wilfred gets his wish. The two of them murder Arlette which sets off a chain of events that will change the course of their lives forever.

1922 is definitely an entertaining and enjoyable film. Hilditch does a great job showing the turmoil experienced by Wilfred as his sins begin to eat away at him. The conniving man may have led Wilfred down this path, but he cannot save him from the demons that are waiting at the end of the road. 1922 is filled with some horrific imagery, but as gruesome as it may be, it is done very well and helps paint an extremely graphic picture. This is nothing like the over-the-top gruesomeness of the Saw franchise, this is gore that fits into the narrative and manages to add to the story. 1922 walks the line leaving the audience wondering about what is actually occurring and what are simply hallucinations brought on by Wilfred’s guilt. Thomas Jane and Dylan Schmidt put on memorable performances, as does Molly Parker – even though hers is clearly shortened based on…well, her character’s untimely death. Neal McDonough also turns in a solid performance as Harlan Cotterie - the rich neighbor and father of Shannon that Wilfred has become incredibly envious of. 1922 has a very good cast who all mesh well together and do an excellent job, great source material, and a writer/director who knows how to illicit emotion from the audience. There are no cheap scares here, just a building dread that leads to one heck of a ride. 

Rating: 4 out of 5