Fantastic Fest 2017 Review/Interview: 1922

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

With adaptations of The Dark Tower and IT opening in theaters this year and with television getting The Mist, Castle Rock, and Mr. Mercedes, it makes perfect sense that Netflix follows suit.  This year Netflix will have two more movie adaptations of King stories,  One of which is 1922, a psychological horror story about murder and the guilt that nearly eats the murderers alive after they commit the hideous deed.  Starring Thomas Jane, Molly Parker, Dylan Schmid, and Neal McDonough, 1922 is a dark and creepy tale where King obviously drew inspiration from Edgar Allen Poe’s The Tell Tale Heart and takes it to even more disturbing and unnerving levels.

Thomas Jane stars as Wilfred James, a simple man content with his life as a farmer in Nebraska, a life he hopes to pass on to his son Henry (Dylan Schmid).  Wilfred’s wife Arlette (Molly Parker), on the other hand, couldn’t care any less about the farming life.  Feeling stagnant on the farm, Arlette wants Wilfred to sell his family’s land and her adjoining property and move the family to Omaha where she can start a career as a dressmaker.  Wilfred, who wants nothing to do with city life, feels that selling his family’s land would disrespect his ancestors who have worked so hard to maintain it for him and future generations.  When Arlette refuses to change her mind, Wilfred manages to persuade his son to help him murder her.

Written and directed by Zak Hilditch, 1922 delivers some delightfully creepy horror goods for which King is so well known.  Hilditch, cast and crew have done some truly laudable work in creating a credible period movie that plays out like a nightmarish American Gothic.  Hilditch and his cast develop the characters excellently with James, Parker, Schmid and McDonough delivering exceptional performances.  It is definitely a movie I highly recommend for character-driven horror stories that don’t just offer supernatural thrills, but also have a profound psychological element.

Both 1922 and Gerald’s Game are Stephen King adaptations coming to Netflix this Fall and both movies screened at this year’s Fantastic Fest.  I was given the wonderful opportunity to sit in a festival round table interview with 1922 writer/director Zak Hilditch and actors Molly Parker and Thomas Jane. Both Jane and Parker discussed developing their characters in ways true to the era, King’s story, and in ways that felt genuine and real.  Jane stated, “From reading the book, thinking about the people who lived in that time,  studying some of the photographs of that era and the paintings of that time, studying that kind of life, studying these people, who they were trying to survive in that environment, I wanted to bring something different from what we’re used to to the table.” Molly Parker noted, “I was interested in the era, the people, the relationship and I wanted to inhabit her (Arlette) in a way that was true to the kind of person she was, but also full and complex, so we weren’t really glad when she dies and also to be mindful about the issue of violence against women and murdering your spouse which happens a lot.  I didn’t want to participate in something that was sort of glorifying that and using it as a means of entertainment.”

I asked Zak Hilditch about the advantages of making a Netflix movie. To which he replied, “I think the amount of extra eyeballs it will get instantly.  This kind of movie will reach many more people than other indie movies released in an old school way.”  Molly Parker added, “There’s been this space for the last few years.  This sort of void for financing character-driven films.  It is really exciting that Netflix is taking these movies that the studios aren’t making.”  Hilditch added, “I like making movies about ordinary people in extraordinary situations.” Jane also stated, “It is a great examination or expurgation of families.  We all like Stephen King. It is a good year for him.”

1922 will be available on Netflix starting October 20, 2017.

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