Film Review: 1922 – 8/10

“In the end, we all get caught…”

The world can’t get enough of Stephen King adaptations right now and what better time to unleash another macabre tale than just before Halloween.

The tragedies of Shakespeare and his contemporaries can often be traced back to the foolishness and greed of one central character, normally a man. 1922 takes it’s cues from the classics but plays out in the year 1922 – as evidenced by the title. Obviously.

Wilfred James is a simple man. All he wants is to be left alone while he smokes his pipe, tends his crops and spits a lot. Unfortunately, his shrewish wife has the temerity to want something more from life that just cooking, cleaning and making lemonade.  Wilf’s devoted son Henry has his head turned by local girl Shannon and so his father uses this to his advantage to plot the death of his conniving wife.

1922 is claustrophobic and unsettling and the epistolary delivery of the story gives an insight into the crumbling mind of our some time protagonist. Thomas Jane is brutish and convincing as Wilfred and it is indeed Jane who carries the story. Director Zak Hilditch does a grand job in letting the story breath and allowing the more shocking scenes time to grab hold of your wrist and pull you down into the grave with them. The score is particularly unnerving, all tortured strings and shrieking violins. These ghoulish elements combine to form a compelling and nightmarish whole.

This latest adaptation from the master of horror takes elements from Shakespearean tragedy and from Edgar Allen Poe – most notably The Tell Tale Heart – and transports those grisly ingredients to a near contemporary setting with devastating and heart wrenching effect. 1922 is a slow burner but by God does it burn when it finally catches.

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