The plot summary of this movie basically tells you right up front what happens – a rancher conspires to murder his wife for financial gain and convinces his teenage son to participate. 1922 is based on Stephen King’s 131-page story, telling of a man’s confession of murdering his wife. A fascinating exploration of what guilt does to a man, leading up to his destruction. 1922 is a psychological horror tale of an unhinged, murderous husband, which Stephen King has done numerous times. Only this time the murderer was quite sane when he did his dirty deed. It was only after the murder that he lost his mind. There are some really gruesome scenes in this movie so be prepared for those.
The tale is told from the perspective of a proud, hard-working farmer, Wilfred James. Wilfred is the story’s narrator who, with the help of his 14-year-old son, murders of his wife with the intent on adding her 100-acre inheritance from her recently deceased father, to his already sizable farm in Nebraska. The atmosphere is deliberately arranged and to some, that might mean ‘boring’. However, it becomes increasingly unsettling as the film draws to its sad and depressing conclusion. The plot is well scripted and will keep you entertained, the characters are well developed for the most part, and you will be able to relate to the main ones, whether it’s in a positive way or not.
It’s a devastating tale of murder and insanity that will surely haunt you for long while. The plot is thrilling and makes you want to keep watching even if it is a little slow at the beginning. Personally, I feel the slowness only adds to the movie, since the main character is so Southern and laid back himself. He isn’t in a hurry for anything. To me, It just…fits. But even at that, the story picks up the pace soon enough and gets more intense as the story progresses. The story itself is gripping, the scenes and cinematography are excellent, and there is an enormous feeling of authenticity about that time period. It definitely has a Bonny and Clyde feel to it, with Henry and his sweetheart running off and going on a killing spree.
Wilfred James is content to live his life on his Nebraska farm alongside his wife, Arlette, and son, Henry. Nothing is more important to Wilfred than his farm and his land, and this defines him and he struggles to create a modest yet enjoyable life for his family. He’s a hardworking farmer who begins to find himself under increasing pressure from his wife when she starts to express her frustrations living in the country. Arlette is consumed with dreams of moving to the big city of Omaha and opening a dress shop.
She even threatens to divorce him, taking their son with her. Wilfred and their madly in love teenage son have other plans. Wilfred then plots to murder her and methodically persuades his son to become his partner in crime. Wilfred manages to poison his son’s mind and conspires with him to brutally murder his own wife. Who knows why he couldn’t have just done it himself. What happens next forms the crux of the story.
Lying to Arlette, Wilfred convinces her that he’s had a change of heart and is willing to give her plans of moving a chance. Excited that her husband is giving in, the three of them have a small celebration where Arlette ends up getting drunk and begins making crude and vulgar remarks about Henry’s new girlfriend. This, in turn, makes Henry disgusted with her and is the moment he decides to go along with his fathers’ plan. After helping Arlette to her bed, Henry holds a burlap sack over her head and tries to hold her down, while Wilfred brutally slashes and slashes at her throat with a kitchen butcher knife, finally delivering the killing cut.
They then wrap Arlette’s dead body with a sheet and throws it into an old well behind the house, which is unknowingly filled with huge rats. Once the body has been dumped, they go back inside to start cleaning up their mess. The next morning Wilfred ties up the still wet and bloody mattress and throws that into the well, then attempts to throw a suitcase (presumably full of Arlette’s clothing and personals) into the well. Taking the top off he looks down to see his dead wife no longer wrapped but now sitting propped up against the wall of the well. Her face looks up towards him, her eyes already bulging and glazed over…she has become infested with the big rats. Before he throws the suitcase in, he notices a rats tails sticking out of her mouth…you can hear it sucking and chewing on her insides. I might add, this particular scene is very disturbing and gory, I highly recommend to not let kids watch it.
After the deed is done, and Arlette’s voluntary absence has been explained away satisfactorily to the locals, the relationship between Wilfred and Henry, begins to crumble, along with Henry’s sanity. Deciding to fill the well in, he fears it might look suspicious so he lures one of his old cows up onto the wooden well cover so that its weight causes it to collapse. When the cow falls into the well you immediately hear her bellowing in agony before Wilfred is forced to shoot her. They then begin filling up the well with dirt. When the sheriff comes knocking, Wilfred, believing he has all his ducks in a row invites the sheriff to come around and have a look. When the sheriff forfeits his offer, Wilfred thinks his dirty deed went off without a hitch.
Consumed by the guilt of what they did, Wilfred and his son descend further and further into madness, haunted by visions as their world crumbles around them. A series of ghastly misadventures sends both father and son on the road to retribution. Strange and supernatural occurrences begin to plague both James and his farm. Is it just simply bad luck, or is it the work of something much more sinister?
I think Thomas Jane is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors. I’m also thinking that I must read the book ASAP! The movie reminded me of the old school horror and suspense films from the 80’s – early 90’s. You know, the ones that didn’t depend entirely on all the jump-scares or fake-looking CGI creatures to make it feel scarier.
One last thought here, Wilfred’s accent may feel weird in the beginning to most people, or at least that’s what I’m hearing, but I promise, you’ll get used to it soon enough. He has the vocal patterns that reminded me so much of Karl Childers, you remember, the character from Sling Blade who was portrayed by Billy Bob Thornton. Honestly, I truly enjoyed his deep southern accent and his long, drawn-out way of speaking. But at the end of the day, I fear far more people will find this movie a bit too slow and hard to sit through. I definitely recommend it, at least once.
Release Date: October 20, 2017
Runtime: 1 hour, 41 minutes
Genre: Horror, Thriller, Suspense
Starring: Thomas Jane, Molly Parker, Neal McDonough, Dylan Schmid
MPAA Rated: TV-MA
Directors: Zak Hilditch
Reviewed by: Mad Hatter
Our Rating: 4.2 /5
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