1922: Murder Is Hard Work

This movie satisfies the self loathing part of our minds. I went into the film expecting some psychological thriller and instead got a depressing story about the tough life of people living in The United States in the 1920’s. The 2017 Netflix movie, based on the Stephen King novel, was directed by Zak Hilditch. Like most Stephen King inspired films this one has a very dark tone and a very slow building plot. I don’t feel good after watching this movie, I wouldn’t want to meet the person who does. From start to finish we see an evil man do something terrible and spend the rest of his life paying for that sin with his sanity.

The first thing I need to bring up about this movie is Thomas Jane’s performance. It was unbelievably astounding. His portrayal of the 1920’s farmer Wilfred James is without question the greatest role he has ever done in a movie. How he wasn’t nominated for an Oscar blows my mind. He was nominated for a Fright Meter Award (some low-level horror movie award) and didn’t even win. Each scene he is on-screen drags you in and keeps you interested for every second. He captures a grizzled old-style farmer whom slowly loses his mind thanks to his evil and selfish subconscious. Wilfred starts the movie off as a simple farmer that married a woman who had the land he needed to have a successful life. Like most married couples, they didn’t see eye to eye on everything. Instead of being a rational human, Wilfred’s mind went corrupt and began conspiring to kill his wife. I won’t get into any details on the story but I can tell you this movie gets bleak and grotesque. And because of one man’s decision, countless other lives suffer.

Although Thomas Jane steals the show, the rest of the cast does a fantastic job. Molly Parker plays Arlette James, the wife who wants to give up the farm life and live in the big city. She displays the line of sympathetic house wife, trapped in a marriage she doesn’t want, and blunt woman who doesn’t mind who she makes feel bad with her desires. Dylan Schmid and Kaitlyn Bernard play two heart struck kids that chose their love over logic and obedience.  I specifically think Dylan, playing the son Henry James, does a great job making the audience feel for the struggles he has to go through with a father like that. Neal McDonough even makes a small appearance in the film as the neighboring farmer Harlan Cotterie, and father of the son’s love interest. He has one particular scene that I thought really drove the actor beyond any limitations I have witnessed in other performances. The entire cast did a wonderful job of painting a gloomy plot that I couldn’t stop watching.

The trailers for the Netflix original made me believe this was some sort of dark horror movie, but it wasn’t really. There were a few imaginative scenes that creeps out the audience, but those didn’t even appear until 2/3rds of the way through. And truthfully those scenes could really be chalked up to a man, riddled with guilt, and suffering from the extreme conditions of 1922, hallucinating. Alternatively we are treated with something far more terrifying, reality. I was continually invested in this movie because of its harsh lessons. A man I willing to sacrifice everything he doesn’t realize needs, in order to get what he wants. It’s something I think far too many people still do today. We take a lot of what we have for granted. Imagine living in a world where you literally only had a home, and a farm; nothing else to keep you busy other than your mind. Now imagine that your mind has no distractions from the guilt of the evil’s that you do. You focus on them, obsess about them until they consume you, and eventually anything else you have in your life that brings you warmth and comfort slowly runs away or dies in front of you. That was life back then. It’s depressing to think of how simple life can be, and how dark a simple man’s mind can get.

Back in the beginning of 1922 a man named Wilfred James had a lovely wife, a bright kid, and a booming farm full of possibilities. By the end of 1922 a man named Wilfred Jones had become a cold, evil, and cruel man who lost his mind to darkness. The journey this story takes is slow and depressing but I also found it really interesting. The movie might not be for everyone, but when you’re in the right mindset, you can really lose yourself in it. 1922 survives The Snappening by reminding us that the cruel man inside of us all will argue there isn’t any other way to be happy then to sacrifice the well-being of others. We have all had that conversation at one point or another. Most of the time our consciousness prevails and we stay good people, but not always.


Movie watched and review written by: Troy Smith

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