1922 trailer

1922 and a Different Kind of King Tale

There is another Stephen King adaptation coming to Netflix very soon, this one not as well known as Gerald’s Game. The film is called 1922 and it is an adaptation of a more recent novella published in the collection Full Dark, No Stars.

This story doesn’t have the history that Gerald’s Game has. In fact, I barely remembered having read it and I’m one of the biggest Stephen King nerds you’ll ever meet. However it succeeds in exactly the same way Gerald’s Game, It and all the best King adaptations has: they capture King’s characters.

The Mist star Thomas Jane finds himself in the lead of another dark Stephen King story, this one about a manipulative husband and father who conspires to kill his wife in rural 1920s Nebraska. Molly Parker‘s Arlette James has inherited a sizable chunk of land from her father and wants to quit the farming life, which is all Jane’s Wilfred James has ever known. Safe to say, he’s resistant to the idea and resents that Arlette isn’t the typical submissive wife.

Wilfred slowly and methodically turns their teenage son against his mother until they pull the trigger and the dastardly deed is done. That’s just the beginning of the story. Pretty soon Wilfred starts seeing his dead wife and the rats that infest her corpse. She haunts him, a visual representation of the sin he committed. He damned not only himself, but his son and the weight of their actions begins to tear them apart.

This is King doing his best Edgar Allan Poe. 1922 is all about guilt and dark karma at work and boy howdy does Thomas Jane really sell being a tortured soul. He commits to this role, adopting an authentic era-specific Nebraska accent, which Jane says was informed by actual recordings of rural people from 1920s Nebraska. The accent is a little silly, but authentically so and Jane delivers every line with real emotion and effort.

Some people might grow impatient with this story. It’s definitely a slow burn, more concerned with building a sense of foreboding over its runtime than jarring you with jump scares. I mean, Rat-chewed Ghost Molly Parker is very well-designed and will likely stick with you after the credits roll, but director Zak Hilditch uses her sparingly, opting instead to focus more on the darkness of the murder weighing on Wilfred and his son, Henry.

The premise of 1922 isn’t as instantly catchy as Gerald’s Game or as flashy as It, but the adaptation is successful – I could hear Stephen King’s voice coming through loud and clear. Clever colloquialisms? Check. Pitch black sense of humor? Check. A whole catalogue of morally muddled characters? Check, check, check.

1922

The Stephen King Movie Renaissance

The wheel has spun back around on King-in-the-movies. The man has said many times that he owes a great deal of his success to Brian De Palma for putting his name on the map with that very early adaptation of his first novel, Carrie. His rise to fame has been linked to the film adaptations of his books since the beginning and he sees three good to great adaptations of his work as he turns 70 years old. Sure, there’s also a massively misconceived dud in there, too, but The Dark Tower will always exist in written form for constant readers, new and old, to discover.

It’s a good time to be a Stephen King fan. He’s still pumping out novels and filmmakers have finally seemed to remember how to adapt him properly. I expect this is only the beginning of beautiful King renaissance.

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Gerald’s Game is available to stream on Netflix right now. 1922 will arrive on October 20, 2017.

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