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stephen king 1922 movie review

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2017 has truly been the year of Stephen King , but the last in a long line of films and TV shows is, in some ways, the most surprising. A remake of “ It ” was inevitable, even if no one expected it to be the box office behemoth it became. “ The Dark Tower ” was in some state of pre-production for years, and Mike Flanagan personally brought his vision for “Gerald’s Game” to the big/small screen of Netflix. On TV, “ The Mist ” felt like an obvious choice in a post-“The Walking Dead” world (and was truly awful) while the bestselling success of “Mr. Mercedes” made that TV adaptation inevitable. Which brings us to “1922,” a 131-page novella contained in King’s 2010 anthology Full Dark, No Stars . It’s a decent piece of work, but not one that screams feature film, and the relative thinness of the source material hurts Zak Hilditch ’s film of the same name. 

With leathered skin from working in the fields and a remarkable Southern drawl, Thomas Jane plays Wilfred James, a Nebraska farmer with a bitter wife named Arlette ( Molly Parker ) and a loyal son named Henry ( Dylan Schmid ). Arlette clearly dislikes life in the country and wants to sell her half of the farm to a local livestock company, but you can literally see Wilf’s skin crawl when his wife dares mention moving to the city. That’s for the dumb people, and the James family isn’t dumb.

Wilf commits his first despicable act when he weaponizes his son’s first love. Henry has fallen for a neighbor girl named Shannon Cotterie (Kaitlyn Bernard), and moving to the city will tear these young lovers apart. For reasons that aren’t completely captured in a believable way, Wilfred decides that the only way to make this dilemma go away is for Arlette to die, and he convinces his son to help him. “1922” is told primarily in flashback, as a clearly-troubled Wilfred has come to a hotel room like the protagonist of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Tell-tale Heart , haunted by demons he himself created. So there’s a sense that we’re being told a story from an unreliable narrator, although not quite enough is made of that cinematically. No, for the most part, “1922” draws a straight line down a hill from a violent act to complete insanity, a not uncommon theme for King, who has long been fascinated by what happens when men choose murder over reason.

There is a very fine line between a film that burns slowly and one that just drags, and “1922” falls into the latter category a few too many times. The fact is that it’s quite difficult to make a film about a man who may be going insane because you have to physically manifest what may just be the visions of a guilty man’s conscience. To his credit, Thomas Jane does a marvelous job of conveying what’s asked of him by material and filmmaker. At first, his slow drawl seemed a bit overdone, but the character work here is strong, especially as Wilf goes deeper and deeper over the edge of sanity. The problem is how little there is of interest here outside of Jane’s work, which is again indicative of the issues with bringing a confessional novella to feature film form. The film isn't visually striking enough, the dialogue isn't memorable, and the message of the film is the relatively straightforward horror classic: don't kill people.

Some of the imagery contained in the final half-hour of “1922” nearly justifies the journey to get there, I just couldn’t help thinking that there’s a tighter, more thrilling version of this story that runs much shorter, like an hour-long anthology horror series. Ultimately, it’s the familiar case of a short story stretched too thin in a feature film, resulting in what will likely be the least-remembered project from 2017: The Year of King. Well, except for that “The Mist” nonsense.

Brian Tallerico

Brian Tallerico

Brian Tallerico is the Managing Editor of RogerEbert.com, and also covers television, film, Blu-ray, and video games. He is also a writer for Vulture, The Playlist, The New York Times, and GQ, and the President of the Chicago Film Critics Association.

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Film Credits

1922 movie poster

1922 (2017)

101 minutes

Thomas Jane as Wilfred James

Neal McDonough as Harlan Cotterie

Molly Parker as Arlette James

Brian d'Arcy James as Sheriff Jones

Dylan Schmid as Henry James

  • Zak Hilditch

Writer (short story)

  • Stephen King

Cinematographer

  • Ben Richardson
  • Merlin Eden
  • Mike Patton

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Netflix’s 1922 is a reminder of what Stephen King does best

And it hints at why so many of 2017’s king adaptations have failed.

By Tasha Robinson

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stephen king 1922 movie review

Welcome to Cheat Sheet, our brief breakdown-style reviews of festival films, VR previews, and other special event releases. This review originally appeared in conjunction with 1922 ’s premiere at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas. It is being reposted to coincide with the film’s Netflix release.

2017 has been a banner year for Stephen King adaptations, but the batting average hasn’t been so hot. It is easily the best of the bunch: in spite of its “more, and then much more” aesthetic, it hit big with audiences, and is now reportedly the highest-grossing horror film of all time . And Netflix’s Gerald’s Game does a startlingly impressive job of drawing out the novel with memorable performances. The Dark Tower , on the other hand, was a confused, generic would-be series-launcher , and Spike TV’s The Mist and the Audience Network’s Mr. Mercedes series have both been accused of stretching out their stories until their energies get lost along the way.

That criticism highlights the problem with virtually all of 2017’s King adaptations: they aren’t out to tell simple, direct stories. It is the first half of a two-film package, Dark Tower was planned as one installment in a sprawling film-and-TV cinematic universe, and Mr. Mercedes is in a position to continue its stories if the ratings justify the expense. (So was The Mist , but Spike TV eventually cancelled it.) Which is why 2017’s latest King adaptation, Netflix’s feature film 1922 , comes as such a comparative relief. It isn’t trying to lay the foundations for a grand, cosmic universe. It isn’t trying to build characters who can sell their own merch and carry their own spin-offs down the road. It’s just a simple, single self-contained horror story.

It’s also a phenomenally grim one, as King readers can already attest.

What’s the genre?

Gothic heartland horror. The exact nature of that horror is ambiguous, and left up to the viewer more than it is in King’s novella, but regardless, it’s a gory tragedy in the most classical sense.

What’s it about?

Thomas Jane was hilariously awful in the King adaptation Dreamcatcher , but he acquits himself memorably here. He stars as Wilfred James, a farmer grimly clinging to his family land in 1920s Nebraska. His wife Arlette (Molly Parker of Deadwood and House of Cards fame) has recently inherited a significant plot of farmland, which she wants to sell so the family can move to Omaha, “or even St. Louis!” Wilf, however, is disgusted by the idea of city living. He has his entire life planned out: work the farm, hang on to what he has, live without what he doesn’t have (indoor plumbing, for instance), and pass his farm on to their 14-year-old son Henry (Dylan Schmid) when he dies. Arlette’s plan to sell her acreage to a hog-farming combine would pollute his land, and giving in to her plan would mean either living in the city, or divorcing her and inevitably losing Henry to her custody. So Wilf quietly plans to murder Arlette, and to bring Henry in on the act to assure the boy’s silence and lock him to the land.

What’s it  really  about?

Consequences and guilt. 1922 is essentially a Midwestern riff on Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart , with its own considerable twists: Wilf doesn’t hack up his wife or bury her under the floorboards, and he isn’t caught because he loses his mind in front of friendly cops. But the movie opens with him sitting down in a hotel room to write his confession, and as the film progresses, it becomes clear that as locked in one place as he is, he’s never managed to outrun his shame. This is a story about conscience and sin, and the way murder tarnishes the soul. This is a fairly heady idea for a film made in a country where our films, TV shows, and video games all routinely feature heroes killing anyone marked as a “bad guy.” 1922 screenwriter and director Zak Hilditch doesn’t entirely draw out the theme, not as much as King did, but he certainly lets the audience know exactly how Wilf’s crimes poison his life and his planned future.

stephen king 1922 movie review

Is it good?

It has its problems, though they mostly stem from King’s source material. Hilditch sticks closely to King’s narrative, apart from a surprising change in the literal last second of the story. But that means he inherits King’s plot structure, which among other things has a considerable amount of the story only being revealed through a sort of magical vision, and only after the fact.

On the other hand, Hilditch doesn’t take as much time as King did in laying out the characters. Like The Tell-Tale Heart , the film version of 1922 races toward the mechanics of the murder without spending enough time on establishing who the protagonist is, and whether murder is naturally in his makeup, or he has to struggle his way toward it. Like virtually all the King adapters who respect his strikingly individual storylines instead of radically rewriting them into something more generic and obvious, Hilditch keeps some of King’s actual language, turning it into a voiceover where Wilf explains his inner thoughts. But that alone doesn’t go far enough toward explaining who Wilf is, or why his story should matter to viewers. He’s a much more quickly sketched character here than he is in King’s story, and that hurts the momentum. 

But Jane’s lean, hungry, squinting portrayal goes a long way toward filling in the blanks. In a post-screening Q&A at Fantastic Fest, Jane said he worked with a vocal coach to get down the strange drawling accent he uses in the film — a Nebraska accent derived from period recordings, before mass media and worldwide communication started easing the variety and color out of regional speech patterns. It’s a highly specific choice, much like the way Jane occasionally punctuates his words with derisive spitting, or the lizardy, narrow-eyed way he watches and judges the world around him. He’s a powerful central figure, and his role here covers a range he hasn’t always achieved well, from anger to affection to determination to stark terror.

Schmid and Parker also do impressive work, with Parker in particular making conscious choices to sand some of the most uncomfortable edges off Arlette, making her strong rather than shrill. And Hilditch does sometimes let the story stretch out into the laconic fireside story it needs to be; he focuses on sunsets and cornfields, on the farm that’s Wilf’s entire world. He brings down the weight of time passing in a way that’s crucial to the story. And when the shocks start, they’re both well-timed and memorably staged. He has an eye for horrifying imagery. King’s novella centers in part on an image Wilf can’t get out of his head, and when Hilditch puts it on the screen, it’s easy to see why Wilf can’t shake it. 1922 gets rushed in both the first and the third act, and it achieves its best moments in the middle going, with character work between Jane and Schmid. But at its best, it’s a reminder that King’s biggest strengths lie in his unparalleled ability to build tension, create atmosphere, and tell a direct and brutal story, not in his ability to launch profitable many-branched franchises.

What should it be rated?

It’s bloody and disturbing, but also reasonably circumspect about most of the violence. PG-13 seems reasonable. 

How can I actually watch it?

1922 debuted on Netflix on October 20, 2017.

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‘1922’ Review: ‘The Shining’ Meets ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ in the Year’s Most Impressive Stephen King Adaptation — Fantastic Fest

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The Netflix-produced “ 1922 ” has jolts of violence and sweeping period details, but in a year overrun with Stephen King adaptations, it’s also the simplest of them: “It” features a ludicrous shapeshifting clown, “The Dark Tower” is an inter-dimensional sci-fi western fantasy, and “Gerald’s Game” has kinky sex gone wrong and a giant goal. In “1922,” a guy kills his wife and feels guilty about it. That’s the gist of its premise, and while nothing groundbreaking, the story mines a degree of profundity out of the traditional supernatural thriller tropes at its core.

As directed by Zak Hilditch (whose 2013 debut “These Final Hours” was an expressionistic apocalyptic tale), “1922” (originally a King short story) has the merits of a solid “Tales From the Crypt” or “Masters of Horror” episode, with a straightforward story that folds the delicate visual language of a rural Terrence Malick drama into the mold of existential horror. The result suggests what might happen if Malick took at stab at “The Tell-Tale Heart,” with a mentally disturbed male protagonist straight out of King’s “The Shining.” So while not the most original or surprising King story, it hits a lot of the right notes.

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The bulk of the movie’s appeal, however, comes from Thomas Jane , delivering his most effective performance in ages. He plays tortured would-be lunatic Wilfred James, who lords over 80 acres of Nebraska farmland that his family has owned for generations. Within five minutes, a disheveled Wilfred establishes in voiceover that he’s confessing a crime, and by 10 minutes, it’s clear what he’s done. When Wilfred’s wife Arlette (Molly Parker) suggests they split the land and get divorced so she can raise their teen son Henry (Dylan Schmid) in the city, he goads the young man into a scheme to kill the woman so the two of them can stay put.

This premise takes shape against the startlingly beautiful backdrop of vivid green cornfields and sunny open country, captured by cinematographer Ben Richardson (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”) as if every shot were modeled on another setup from “Days of Heaven.” There’s a deep yearning to these early scenes indicative of the unreliable narrator’s utopian ideals.

Hilditch’s screenplay stays within Wilfred’s understanding of his family’s traditions, and as he establishes that comfortable world before it falls apart, his wife and son pose for the camera as if trapped in the confines of an American Gothic knockoff. That’s basically the crux of their conundrum: Wilfred’s so committed to maintaining his remote country life he’s willing to entrap his closest relatives in his scheme to keep things that way.

It doesn’t take long for Wilfred to advance his plans, and before long, Arlette’s dead in a messy, blood-soaked murder scene that Wilfred and his terrified son must cover up. Even as they do, Wilfred’s conscience slowly gets the best of him, especially once his son vanishes and the older man’s left on his own to contemplate his guilt. While a handful of characters come and go, the movie ultimately settles into a showcase for Jane, who spends much of the running time looking mortified in extreme close-up as supernatural forces swarm in.

With Hilditch shifting between the cramped hotel room where the character scrawls his confession and the crumbling wooden farmhouse, “1922” becomes a study in pure psychological dread. The warm imagery gives way to snowy landscapes, creaky floorboards, a sea of rats bursting from the ground, a slow-moving corpse caked in dirt. Wilfred’s losing his mind, and we’re right there with him.

Despite the setting, this is a pretty familiar routine, one that suggests the poor man’s “The Shining” in more ways than one. Yet again, a desperate middle-aged man goes insane at the hand of his own extreme desires, and it’s a given that he’ll never escape unscathed. Even so, “1922” manages to unearth the poetry of that formulaic trajectory. “In the end, we all get caught,” Wilfred sighs, and the movie amplifies what it means to experience that inevitability as a chilling slow-burn descent. It doesn’t take any shocking new twists, but musters just enough fresh polish to a classic scenario to make it worth one more ride.

“1922” premiered at the 2017 edition of Fantastic Fest. Netflix releases it on October 29.

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Film Review: Stephen King’s ‘1922’

A largely satisfying adaptation of Stephen King's novella about unappeasable guilt triggered by the mortal sin of murder.

By Joe Leydon

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'1922' Review: Netflix Takes a Stab at Stephen King

Every generation gets its own version of “The Tell-Tale Heart,” but “1922” — writer-director Zak Hilditch’s workmanlike adaptation of the novella by Stephen King — almost certainly is the first iteration of Edgar Allen Poe’s classic story to include voracious rodents, hapless cows and a Bonnie and Clyde-like pair of young bank robbers.

Hilditch deserves credit for generating and sustaining suspense throughout a slow-burning drama that is more fatalistically tragic than traditionally horrific, and for delivering the goods when old-fashioned shocks are called for. In fact, it’s no small measure of the movie’s overall effectiveness that one can easily overlook, if not unreservedly forgive, a few fleeting moments when vermin balanced on their hind legs are only marginally scarier than the rodent gourmet in “Ratatouille.”

Right from the start, we know things aren’t going to turn out well for Wilfred James ( Thomas Jane ), a haggard and haunted fellow who checks into an inelegant Omaha hotel and proceeds to describe, in frantic scribblings and raspy narration, terrible events that occurred a few years earlier. In 1922, Wilfred is a hardworking but none-too-successful Nebraska farmer who finds himself under increasing pressure from Arlette (Molly Parker), his discontented wife, to sell their spread — or at least the 100 acres she brought to the marriage — and move to the big city. But Wilfred is loath to uproot (“Cities,” he claims with unshakable conviction, “are for fools!”), and his irascibility is amped when Arlette indicates that her Plan B involves divorce, a forced sale of the farm and her claiming sole custody of Henry (Dylan Schmid), their 14-year-old son.

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Jane is very good at conveying a toxic mix of taciturn rage and amoral calculation as Wilfred plots to murder his troublesome spouse. And he’s even better at adopting the authoritative tone of a tough-loving Old Testament father figure while the farmer methodically persuades his son that homicide (or, in Henry’s case, matricide) is entirely justified. Henry reluctantly comes around to his father’s point of view, primarily because Wilfred knows the right button to push: If his mom takes him away, Henry will be separated from his sweetheart, Shannon (Kaitlyn Bernard), the young daughter of Harlan (Neal McDonough), a far more successful neighboring farmer.

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The actual killing of Arlette is rendered with a blunt-force savagery that underscores what emerges as the underlying theme of “1922” — murder is not merely a terrible crime, but an unforgivable mortal sin that will forever curse its perpetrators. (Ironically, Wilfred chooses to stab his sleeping wife, and slit her throat, because smothering her with a pillow might be “too painful.”) In developing this idea, Hilditch takes his cue from King’s novella and neatly balances standard-issue horror-movie tropes (Wilfred is periodically visited by Arlette’s rotting corpse and real or imagined hungry rats) with subtler and more discomforting scenes illustrating unappeasable guilt, mournful regret and resigned acceptance of damnation.

While Wilfred copes with psychological and physical pain (one of the very real rats bites his hand, with predictably awful results) in snowbound isolation, Henry runs off with the pregnant Shannon and launches a crime spree that suggests a grim determination that, after you help kill your mother, you’re irredeemably unmoored from petty concerns about right and wrong.

“1922” has a smattering of darkly comical moments, most notably a shocking-funny scene in which one of the aforementioned cows is used to hide Arlette’s corpse. Unfortunately, there are a few unintentionally comical moments as well, most of them (though not all) featuring trained rats that are supposed to be terrifying. Hilditch doesn’t use the cruel final twist of King’s novel, which arguably is an audience-friendly act of mercy. But what he offers in its place is something that would have been more appropriate for the seriocomic King-scripted “Creepshow.”

Still, “1922” — one of two King adaptations (along with “Gerald’s Game”) having its world premiere at Fantastic Fest this year — is strong enough to bear the weight of occasional miscalculations.

Jane persuasively devolves into madness, or something like it, as the hidebound and rawboned Wilfred, while Schmid and Bernard are aptly sympathetic in their supporting roles. Parker adds a sprinkling of playful sauciness to her otherwise tightly wound portrayal of Arlette, and McDonough works emotionally impactful wonders while underplaying Harlan’s final confrontation with Jane. Better still, the period detail is unassumingly impressive in this Netflix production, which uses Vancouver locations as reasonable substitutes for urban and rural Nebraska.

Reviewed at Fantastic Fest, Austin, Sept. 23, 2007. Running time: 101 MIN.

  • Production: A Netflix release and presentation of a Campfire production. Producer: Ross Dinerstein. Executive producers: Ian Bricke, Jamie Goehring, Samantha Housman, Kevin Leeson, Shawn Williamson.
  • Crew: Director, screenplay: Zak Hilditch, based on the novella by Stephen King. Camera (color): Ben Richardson. Editor: Merlin Eden. Music: Mike Patton.
  • With: Thomas Jane, Molly Parker, Dylan Schmid, Kaitlyn Bernard, Brian d’Arcy, Neal McDonough.

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1922 Reviews

stephen king 1922 movie review

The performances are great from top-to-bottom...this was a movie that probably should have been on the big screen.

Full Review | Mar 24, 2023

stephen king 1922 movie review

1922 is a new type of Stephen King movie, executed with as much artistic inventiveness as passionate faithfulness.

Full Review | Mar 10, 2023

1922 is an effective, chilling bit of work that boasts a revelatory lead performance and a compelling, gradual erosion of a man's psyche.

Ultimately, 1922 is not an earth-shattering film, but it’s a solid, well-crafted story featuring strong performances and a few moments of ick that will get under viewers’ skin.

Full Review | Jan 30, 2023

stephen king 1922 movie review

“1922” is a movie that gets under your skin. It maintains a menacing vibe from start to finish without ever relying on overused gimmicks or formulas.

Full Review | Original Score: 4.5/5 | Aug 24, 2022

stephen king 1922 movie review

1922 unsettles more than it scares and seeks to be a slow-burner, which is refreshing but it is marred by the tedious pace. '1922' is also too character-driven for its own good.

Full Review | Mar 9, 2021

stephen king 1922 movie review

For those King fans who know nothing is more horrifying than the horrors of man, 1922 delivers a mix between There Will Be Blood and Edgar Allen Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart, featuring Jane at his darkest and most disturbing.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/5 | Apr 22, 2020

stephen king 1922 movie review

1922 is easily the finest Stephen King film this year, and among the finest in recent memory.

Full Review | Apr 22, 2020

stephen king 1922 movie review

For fans of King, ghost stories, and small-scale cinema, 1922 is a real gem.

Full Review | Original Score: 8/10 | Dec 9, 2019

Almost unanimous praise aside, I will say that 1922's final chapter does run a tad too long...but what it does capitalize on is the root and themes of King's best works.

Full Review | Sep 10, 2019

stephen king 1922 movie review

1922 works well as a physical representation of the guilt that consumes the protagonist. [Full Review in Portuguese]

Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | Sep 3, 2019

stephen king 1922 movie review

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.

Full Review | Aug 26, 2019

In cinemas, it might have been overshadowed by flashier rivals, but perhaps, on demand, this slow, but winningly bleak little tale will find the audience it deserves.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/5 | Aug 26, 2019

It is a tale of human guilt, divine consequence, and good old fashioned King-ly horror, with a performance by Thomas Jane that only solidifies his standing as a leading actor who Hollywood continues to underappreciate.

Full Review | Original Score: 4.5/5 | Aug 26, 2019

stephen king 1922 movie review

1922 is a compelling and gripping look at murder, the act and the aftermath, and its simplicity helps propel it in to one of the most sophisticated Stephen King cinematic adaptations.

stephen king 1922 movie review

It's a cheeseburger that knows it's a cheeseburger, and it's a blast.

Full Review | Aug 23, 2019

Its suspense treatment and simple and clear proposal deserve all the attention. [Full Review in Spanish]

Full Review | Aug 7, 2019

stephen king 1922 movie review

It's what comes after that killing that leads into 70 additional minutes of horror and misfortune for the James family.

Full Review | Aug 26, 2018

stephen king 1922 movie review

[If] you're looking for something engaging or haunting, 1922 is about as barren as Wilfred's fallow fields.

Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/5 | Jan 24, 2018

stephen king 1922 movie review

It may not be particularly original, but the details are well-realized, and the film moves along at a brisk pace. A minor King adaptation, perhaps, but a good one.

Full Review | Jan 24, 2018

1922 Review

Farm-y of darkness..

1922 Review - IGN Image

Well acted and decently directed, 1922 might please audiences who haven’t seen other, better films about cold-blooded murderers who get their comeuppance. But audiences who are familiar with this subgenre will probably get bored quickly with this formulaic morality play.

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1922 Review

stephen king 1922 movie review

While he's been known to be a master of the supernatural, Stephen King still has some more grounded moments in his literary showcase that are due for a good adaptation. After all, this is the man who brought us the sources The Shawshank Redemption , Stand By Me , and Apt Pupil , so he's no stranger to the horror that is the human condition. That's exactly where the scares lie in 1922 , a novella from King's Full Dark, No Stars collection, and the subject of a new Netflix film.

Wilfred "Wilf" James ( Thomas Jane ) wants to maintain the family homestead divided by his farm and the one left to his wife Arlette (Molly Parker) by her departed father. But Mrs. James has designs to move the family to the big city, a decision that she's dead set on following through, and with their son Henry (Dylan Schmid) in tow. But Wilf's not gonna let the matter go without a fight, and soon enough he enlists his son to help him murder his wife, so they can keep the farm. What starts as a murder turns into something much bigger, and more sinful, than either of them could have ever imagined.

The most important thing you need to keep in mind when going into 1922 is the fact that it's a slow burn of a film. Rather than shock the audience with jump scares, writer/director Zak Hilditch's adaptation of the novella is a tension-filled exercise in gorgeous minimalism. If anything, this seems like the most arthouse adaptation of a Stephen King work to date, allowing the audience to completely drink in the scenery and visual flourish of the American South.

In fact, there are two words that say everything you need to know about 1922 : quiet menace. The things that go bump in the proverbial night of this particular Stephen King story are very human, and very close to the hearts and minds of the audience. But while the film is very quiet in its movements, it isn't any less severe than some of King's more grandiose work. By the time 1922 has had its way with the audience, everything in the realm of the James family has spiraled into severe madness, leaving a path of destruction in its wake that's precise, but still extremely devastating.

Much like Gerald's Game before it, 1922 is a project that both relies on a fantastic supporting cast, but also focuses in on one, shining lead. That lead is King alum, and underrated character actor, Thomas Jane ( The Mist ). It's important to highlight the underrated bit, because if there is any film that's truly shown off Jane's full faceted talents, it's 1922 . His role as embattled farmer Wilf James is a rich tapestry of folksy family man, and the "conniving" side that he talks about throughout the story's entirety. One minute he's convincing his son to help him kill his wife, the next he's truly realizing what he's sewn and waiting for his final judgement, but every single moment he comes into frame, he commands the scene.

But if you're looking for scares, and let's face it what Stephen King fan isn't, there's still plenty to be afraid of in 1922 . You've got your choice of the pot-boiling dread of whether the James boys are going to get caught for their crimes, as well as possibly held responsible for the fallout of said crimes; or you've got good, old fashioned body horror. Both are accounted for in Zak Hilditch's film, and the writer/director of the piece handles both with equal dread. What humanity might let slide, fate certainly takes offense to.

The film version of 1922 is quite possibly the most impressive Stephen King project to have made its way to audiences this year. It truly feels like a corner of the famed author's works and universe that we've never seen, yet at the same time totally familiar to those who know every story to come from his hand. Most importantly, 1922 is another extremely solid hit from Netflix, who has gone 2 for 2 with auteurs that have done justice to King's work in the filmed medium. It is a tale of human guilt, divine consequence, and good old fashioned King-ly horror, with a performance by Thomas Jane that only solidifies his standing as a leading actor who Hollywood continues to underappreciate. It deserves to be held up alongside the greats.

Mike Reyes is the Senior Movie Contributor at CinemaBlend, though that title’s more of a guideline really. Passionate about entertainment since grade school, the movies have always held a special place in his life, which explains his current occupation. Mike graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, but swore off of running for public office a long time ago. Mike's expertise ranges from James Bond to everything Alita, making for a brilliantly eclectic resume. He fights for the user.

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‘1922’: film review | fantastic fest 2017.

The year's third Stephen King adaptation, '1922,' follows a farmer (Thomas Jane) plagued by guilt after murdering his wife.

By THR Staff

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'1922' Review

In this, the Year of Our King 2017, filmmakers have turned en masse to the back catalog of America’s most prolific best-seller. Two much-hyped Stephen King adaptations came this summer, while two under-the-radar ones debut this week at Fantastic Fest; and in October, the author’s influence will surely be felt in the second season of Stranger Things . Who knows what the holidays might hold, but in Zak Hilditch’s 1922 , based on the short story of the same name, we get one of the author’s most stripped-down works. The pulpy period piece, Poe-like in its focus on gnawing guilt, should rank in the high middle when scholars of King cinema judge it against other adaptations; casual moviegoers, though, may feel it a bit slight — not quite well-developed enough as a straight fiction, not quite scary enough to scratch the genre itch.

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Thomas Jane plays Wilfred James, a Nebraska farmer whose wife Arlette (Molly Parker) never made her peace with rural life. When she inherits a hundred acres of valuable railroad-adjacent land, Arlette sees a way out: They can sell all their property and move to the city. Wilf wants to go the opposite direction, finally having enough land to work that their son Henry (Dylan Schmid ) can be assured of a future on the farm.

The Bottom Line A handsomely made adaptation of a King yarn as narratively spare as 'Dark Tower' was sprawling.

Realizing that he has an advantage in this argument — Henry is in love with a neighbor girl, and therefore fears his mother’s impulse to leave — this self-described “conniving man” lands on a plan that wouldn’t be most people’s first choice, or even in the top 10: He kills Arlette and buries her in the well.

The story requires that the guilt for this crime be shared by Wilf and his son. But Hilditch’s screenplay doesn’t do enough to explain why Wilf can’t get the thing done himself in secret, either making it look like an accidental death or selling Henry on the story he tells townsfolk: That Arlette , long dissatisfied, finally lit out for the city without saying goodbye. As things happen, Wilf and Henry must sell that fiction together, dealing with a sheriff (Brian d’Arcy James) who has no reason to disbelieve them but is prodded by the suspicious businessmen who want the land.

A moment during the disposal of the body both draws on King’s knack for skin-crawling images and sets up the menace to come. Suffice to say it involves rats, and that the skritchy-nibbly vermin will haunt the guilty farmer as doggedly as the thump-thump-thumping does Poe’s narrator in The Tell-Tale Heart . While developments both predictable and not threaten the James family’s happiness from the outside, Wilf’s conscience (and/or the supernatural power of his slain wife’s soul) begin pushing him toward insanity.

Jane, who delivers this weathered laborer’s dialogue through clenched teeth, is not as demonstrative as most previous big-screen recipients of King’s slow-build insanity. The film is not lurid in its scares, and instead depicts its protagonist’s suffering mostly as a slow rot. Contrast that with the plight of Henry, whose misadventures could drive a more active crime-spree movie but are depicted here calmly, from a distance. Wilf manages to live eight years beyond the year the movie is named for. But he might as well have fallen into that well the day he buried his wife.

Production company: Campfire Distributor: Netflix Cast: Thomas Jane, Molly Parker, Dylan Schmid , Kaitlyn Bernard, Neal McDonough, Brian d’Arcy James Director-screenwriter: Zak Hilditch Producer: Ross M. Dinerstein Executive producers: Ian Bricke , Jamie Goehring , Samantha Houseman, Kevin Leeson , Shawn Williamson Director of photography: Ben Richardson Production designer: Page Buckner Costume designer: Claudia Da Ponte Editor: Merlin Eden Composer: Mike Patton Casting director: Maureen Webb Venue: Fantastic Fest

102 minutes

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stephen king 1922 movie review

Gruesome murder tale with horrific visuals; violence, gore.

1922 Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Evil will not go unpunished: "Murder is not j

No positive role models.

Graphic violence and bloody mayhem. Spoiler alerts

A young teen gets pregnant. Fathers discuss the cr

"Goddammit," "Christ." A mothe

Multiple instances of drinking and drunkenness. Es

Parents need to know that 1922 is based on a novella by Stephen King and is a violent, gory tale of murder and insanity. Set in the year 1922 on a farm in Nebraska, intense conflict within a family leads to its destruction. Shot with every intent of shocking and disturbing its audience, the film…

Positive Messages

Evil will not go unpunished: "Murder is not just a horrible crime, but an unforgivable mortal sin.... In the end, we all get caught." Innocents, even young people, are corruptible; they, too, pay the ultimate price.

Positive Role Models

Violence & scariness.

Graphic violence and bloody mayhem. Spoiler alerts : A murderous frenzy is central to the plot, with horrific throat slashing of woman: screaming, a fight to the death. Dead victim reappears, dripping blood, distorted in numerous flashbacks. Marauding rats are featured in multiple scenes. Gruesome visuals as rats inhabit the body of the victim in multiple shots. Man stomps a rat. A cow falls into a well. Its terrified cries are heard, then it's shot. A severely wounded hand is gangrened. A woman slaps her son.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.

Sex, Romance & Nudity

A young teen gets pregnant. Fathers discuss the crisis.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.

"Goddammit," "Christ." A mother coarsely cautions her son against sexual intercourse (i.e., "keep your willy in your pants" and "rub it with your johnny, but stay out of home place").

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Multiple instances of drinking and drunkenness. Escalating dependence on alcohol. Vomiting. Pills are consumed with alcohol. Main character smokes a pipe.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that 1922 is based on a novella by Stephen King and is a violent, gory tale of murder and insanity. Set in the year 1922 on a farm in Nebraska, intense conflict within a family leads to its destruction. Shot with every intent of shocking and disturbing its audience, the film basks in the macabre, including ( spoiler alert ) an abundance of rats -- climbing in and over corpses, coming through walls, marching together as a vicious army. Expect plenty of blood and horrific visuals of the undead as well as the dying. Guns and knives wreak havoc on the innocent and on the guilty. Some cursing ("goddammit," "Christ") is heard, along with a mother's coarse cautionary words to her 14-year-old son about not engaging in sexual intercourse (i.e., "keep your willy in your pants"). Central characters drink heavily, which leads to drunkenness in multiple instances. Lead character smokes a pipe. Stephen King's work seems a never-ending source of movie and TV material. Some stories, like The Shawshank Redemption and Stand by Me , emphasize the drama rather than the horror. This movie merits a place among his grisly best. No kids. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails .

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  • Parents say (4)
  • Kids say (13)

Based on 4 parent reviews

Gore with no purpose

A bit bloody, what's the story.

It's 1922 on an isolated farm in Nebraska when Wilfred James ( Thomas Jane ) determines that he must murder his wife, Arlette ( Molly Parker ). Arlette has inherited 100 acres of adjoining land from her father and insists on selling it and moving to the big city (Omaha), whether Wilfred wants to join her or not. She's not to be reasoned with. What's more, she promises her husband that Henry ( Dylan Schmid ), their 14-year-old son, belongs with her. Threatened with losing all he holds dear (the farm and his son), Wilfred manipulates young Henry into being his accomplice. After the deed is done, and Arlette's voluntary absence has been explained away satisfactorily to the locals, the relationship between Wilfred and Henry, complicated by the boy's devotion to a neighbor girl, begins to come apart -- as does Henry's sanity. A series of ghastly misadventures sends both father and son on the road to retribution.

Is It Any Good?

Terrifyingly demented, with standout performances, this slow-moving but devastating tale of murder and insanity from a Stephen King novella is solid fare for fans of the horror genre. Thomas Jane creates a vivid portrait of a man bound by the limits of the world into which he was born and the constraints of his judgment. The length to which he will go to meet his "needs" is infinite. And he's paid back like a rat in a trap. Supporting players, including the fine Brian d'Arcy James and Neal McDonough , as well as Parker and Schmid, are first-rate. Director Zak Hilditch, working from his own adaptation of King's book, doesn't mind the unhurried pace -- all the better to make his audience squirm and recoil. The "ewww" factor is relentless as the story takes shape. 1922 is definitely not for the squeamish.

Talk to Your Kids About ...

Families can talk about the grisly scenes in 1922 . Do the gory scenes make you laugh? Disgust you? Make you turn your head away? Why do you think people, including many teens, respond to horror movies like this one? What ages do you think can handle this type of violence? Why?

In what ways do the creators of the story and movie effectively show the psychological consequences of murderous behavior? How did both Wilfred's and Henry's lives become forever changed after their evil act? How much of what Wilfred "saw" do you think was real, and how much was in his head?

How did the farm setting contribute to the overall atmosphere of the movie? Think about how the director, Zak Hilditch, moved the camera among the wheat fields and the wide shots of the farm. How did both the photography and music help convey the horror Hilditch was after?

Movie Details

  • On DVD or streaming : October 20, 2017
  • Cast : Thomas Jane , Molly Parker , Dylan Schmid
  • Director : Zak Hilditch
  • Inclusion Information : Female actors
  • Studio : Netflix
  • Genre : Horror
  • Run time : 102 minutes
  • MPAA rating : NR
  • Last updated : February 18, 2023

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stephen king 1922 movie review

1922 (2017)

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stephen king 1922 movie review

Summary Based on Stephen King's 131-page story telling of a man's confession of his wife's murder, 1922 is told from from the perspective of Wilfred James, the story's unreliable narrator who admits to killing his wife, Arlette, with his son in Nebraska. But after he buries her body, he finds himself terrorized by rats and, as his life begins to ... Read More

Directed By : Zak Hilditch

Written By : Stephen King, Zak Hilditch

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  • Consequence

Film Review: 1922

Zak Hilditch retains the weirdness in the latest Stephen King adaptation for Netflix

Film Review: 1922

Directed by

  • Zak Hilditch
  • Kaitlyn Bernard
  • Bruce Blain
  • Spencer Brown

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stephen king 1922 movie review

At one of Zak Hilditch’ s talkbacks during Fantastic Fest, an audience member pointed out that the three successful Stephen King adaptations on the big screen this week ( It ,  Gerald’s Game , and now  1922 ) all managed to keep the Master of Horror’s weirdness intact. In the past, the filmmakers of so many lesser King adaptations approached his work from a stance of normalization and sanitization: How do you tone something down, rather than honor the vision of the writer?

Not to beat a dead horse, but look at  It  and compare that film to this summer’s  The Dark Tower . In one instance, you have a production where the studio allowed the filmmakers to show graphic violence towards children — an essential element of the novel when conveying the terror of the story’s antagonist. Even if there wasn’t the screen time to dive into the cosmic origins of the creature, Andy Muschietti kept its spirit intact by creating a film that is, at the end of the day, strange as hell, especially for a Hollywood blockbuster.

In  The Dark Tower , though, no one had the balls to tackle the violence, surrealism, or extended multiverse of King’s most beloved series. Instead, the film suffered from the creators simplifying everything. And lo and behold, audiences didn’t buy it. When comparing the box office returns of both films, it turns out the movie-going public — and, to a larger extent, millions of Stephen King fans — didn’t want   simplification. They didn’t want their King adaptation to be streamlined and dumbed down. They wanted the grisly violence, the twisted lore. They wanted the weird.

Not surprisingly, the other two films that make up the holy triumvirate of the King Renaissance  were granted the same freedom as  It , which can be chalked up to their partnership with Netflix. Every day, the studio’s original programming becomes a stronger force to be reckoned with, and it’s not because everything they churn out is solid gold, either. In fact, some of it sucks. But the blame can usually be placed on the creative team, and that’s a good thing, people. You want a studio to put faith in its storytellers, and you want those same storytellers to feel permitted to be brave, while also feeling permitted to fail. Nothing defangs a horror movie like a studio lording over you, expecting to turn something shocking into something more ubiquitous and (shudder) family-friendly. Maybe that results in some blunders. But it also results in films like  1922 .

To be clear, the source material from which  1922 is based upon is King at his nastiest. There’s a reason it’s part of a collection called  Full Dark No Stars . Like the book’s other three stories — two of which have already been made into lesser King adaptations — there is no light at the end of the tunnel for many of its characters. The texts are more drawn to the idea of reckoning; of depicting the worst in humanity and making them pay for their sins. Or, even more frightening, allowing them to get away scot-free.

In  1922 ‘s case, the despicable protagonist is Wilfred James ( Thomas Jane ), a Nebraskan farmer in the early 20th century. When his wife Arlette ( Molly Parker ) wants to sell her neighboring land to a meatpacking company from Chicago, he knows it will make his own land unfarmable. But Arlette remains steadfast, wanting to break free from rural life and move them and their son, Henry ( Dylan Schmid ), to the city. Divorce is discussed, no compromise can be made, and Wilfred eventually decides to slit his wife’s throat with the help of his son, and then throw the body in a well.

All of this happens early on, and the rest of the film finds the father and son tormented by their actions. If we boil the movie down to its elevator pitch, it’s essentially a piss-and-vinegar riff on Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Telltale Heart”, only with the beating heart switched out with the rats that keep burrowing into Arlette’s corpse.

Spending so much time with a homicidal farmer who’s more concerned with his pride than his moral integrity likely isn’t for everyone, and writer/director Hilditch knows this. Even so, he never pulls any punches for his depiction of the James family, and it’s a wise move on his part. Wilfred and Henry are flawed for obvious reasons, but even Arlette proves to be cold and sharp-tongued. In fact, it’s her crude comments about Henry’s girlfriend, their neighbor Shannon Cotterie ( Kaitlyn Bernard ), that finally convinces the boy to go through with their crime. As such, Hilditch is never concerned with keeping any of them likable — just realistic. And by keeping the snail’s pace of the novella intact, he’s able to realistically trace why murderers commit their horrible sins. It’s not an endorsement, just a nihilistic and accurate presentation. The more we buy into the act itself, the more we’ll buy into the inevitable spiritual fallout.

It helps that Hilditch cast Jane in the central role. Along with Carla Gugino’s turn in  Gerald’s Game , Netflix has two of the strongest performances in any King adaptation to date. But where Gugino’s performance combined the emotionally raw with the physically grueling, Jane’s role is more about quiet calculation. He says every line without moving his jaw, sucking on his teeth to convey the image of a vulpine-eyed killer who views everyone as a threat to his land.

Even with Jane’s strong performance,  1922  still could have been a sober, fairly unremarkable story about rural crime, and that brings us back to that crucial element of weirdness. Also like  Gerald’s Game , Hilditch relies on King’s bizarre imagery to make an otherwise normal setting unique.  1922  isn’t supernatural, per se (any paranormal elements come from Wilfred’s unreliable narration), but the camera slowly creeps around the cornfield as if Randall Flagg is lurking behind each stalk. Remember, Hemingford Home, Nebraska, is the setting of many King stories that do happen to be supernatural. Flagg and other dark beings have walked these rows many times before. The Chicago meatpacking plant even has the name “Farrington” tacked to it, one of Flagg’s many aliases.

I bring all this up not to perpetuate some King shadow conspiracy that  1922  is a spiritual cousin of  The Stand . What I’m getting at is Hilditch — like  Gerald’s Game  director Mike Flanagan — knows that, even with the pathos behind it, this is still a horror story. Keep the morally reprehensible characters. Keep the violence. Keep the corpse hallucinations, even if they become a bit much in the final shots. Keep the rats and all the grisly things they can do to both Wilfred and his livestock. Keep the weirdness.

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1922 movie review: A haunting horror film; Stephen King’s hot-streak rages on after It, Gerald’s Game

1922 movie review: after the record-breaking success of it, and fellow netflix original gerald’s game, stephen king’s remarkable success streak continues with this haunting new horror film..

1922 Director - Zak Hilditch Cast - Thomas Jane, Molly Parker, Dylan Schmid Rating - 4/5

In 1922, Thomas Jane turns in a remarkably nuanced performance.

For years, one of the most famous legends surrounding Stephen King was about the time he sat on his writing desk in the early ‘80s, proceeded to embark on an indefinite cocaine binge, and when he regained consciousness, found a complete manuscript laying in front of him. Even years later, he barely remembers writing it, he said. The book was Cujo, which, like most of King’s works, was soon adapted into a film.

That was the Golden Age of Stephen King adaptations when landmark films such as The Shining and Carrie were produced. And while there has never really been a lean period for King adaptations in the decades that followed, 2017 will, in hindsight, always be seen as being the bringer of a new Golden Age.

Such is the appeal of his stories that in one year alone, his work has inspired the highest-grossing horror picture of all time (It), a critical and commercial disaster (The Dark Tower), and two films that weren’t released in theatres at all – the fantastic Gerald’s Game, and the movie we’re going to be discussing here, 1922, both of which were released on Netflix.

stephen king 1922 movie review

“In 1922,” growls Thomas Jane in a voiceover that looms, like a tragic Greek chorus, throughout the film, “a man’s pride was a man’s land.”

Wilfred James, the tobacco-chewing, perpetually sweating character Jane plays, lives on his sprawling property with his wife and teenage son. He is a proud man, as he says in that voiceover, because of his land, and his son, Henry, who will inherit it when the time comes. He works the fields in the days, and sits on his porch in the evenings, sipping cold beers and surveying his vast kingdom.

stephen king 1922 movie review

And then, all of a sudden, his wife snatches it all away. She proposes that the family sell their land and move to the city, an idea that Wilfred reacts to as a demon would to the sight of Holy Water. He tells her as much, but receives only an ultimatum in response: If Wilfred does not comply; she would file for divorce immediately and take their son to the city with her.

So Wilfred is left with a choice, which is a key theme in the film: To give in, and be emasculated by a woman, or to listen to that voice in his head, a voice that reminds him that he is the man of the house.

“Every man has a choice,” he booms. And in 1922, Wilfred James makes the wrong one: Together with his son, whom he coerces into joining him in his foolhardy plan, he attempts to murder his wife in cold blood — and makes a mess of it. After slicing the wrong arteries, too feebly to leave a mark, Wilfred resorts to hacking away at her general direction, mauling her face beyond recognition. She dies a horrible death, and is laid to rest among hungry mice in a forgotten well.

1922 is a terrific example of just how powerful horror movies can be. Not only does writer-director Zak Hilditch employ a gorgeous, psychological slow-burn approach to the storytelling, he punctuates it with sudden bursts of visceral horror. It’s a film that strides just as confidently through scenes of duplicitous dialogue as it does in moments of shocking gore.

Unlike It, which at 1,300 pages is a monumental work of horror fiction, 1922 is based on a 117-page short story, written in the manner of a confession by a man utterly consumed by the guilt of his actions.

By murdering his wife, and attempting to cover it up in front of suspicious lawyers and lawmen, Wilfred sets into a motion a chain of tragic events that take away not just his pride, but also his sanity. And Thomas Jane is quite terrific in the central role. He adds tiny, almost unnoticeable nuances to his performance - frowns of confusion, sharp looks of warning - nuances that help create a character that is both conniving and pathetic at the same time.

stephen king 1922 movie review

His crimes haunt him, often literally, and he turns into a paranoid wreck of a man, plagued with the sound of scurrying mice, and the smell of rotting flesh, and the sight of his decomposed wife.

Together with the lush visuals of DP Ben Richardson, and the equally grand score by Mike Patton, Hilditch has made a stately horror picture about broken families, jealousy, and the sins of the father — all staple Stephen King themes.

And that’s what makes King’s stories so universally terrifying. They could be transported to any time, to any place, and still resonate, always uncomfortably close to the truth. The ideas he toyed with in 1922 could easily be brought to modern day India — in all its toxic patriarchy and systemic inequality. Notions of honour, of manhood, and of a woman’s place in this world — they’re all just as relevant to us today as turn-of-the-century America.

Sometimes, it takes a horror movie to remind us.

Watch the 1922 trailer here

Follow @htshowbiz for more The author tweets @RohanNaahar

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1922 movie explained ending

1922 Movie Explained (Plot And Ending Analysis)

Zak Hilditch’s 2017 adaptation of Stephen King’s novella  1992  is a  psychological   horror about crime and punishment. It delves deep into the effects of guilty consciousness, its manifestations, and its impact on the lives of perpetrators. This article will take you through the movie’s most important  themes, motifs, and symbols . Here’s the plot and ending of the movie 1922 explained; spoilers ahead.

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Where To Watch?

To find where to stream any movie or series based on your country, use This Is Barry’s Where To Watch .

Oh, and if this article doesn’t answer all of your questions, drop me a comment or an FB chat message, and I’ll get you the answer .  You can find other film explanations using the search option on top of the site.

Here are links to the key aspects of the movie:

  • – Plot Synopsis
  • – The Theme of Crime and Punishment
  • – The Recurring Motif of Irony
  • – Symbols Explained
  • – Rats
  • – Blood
  • – Ghosts
  • – Ending Explained

1922 Movie: Plot Synopsis

1992 is a modern subversion of Crime and Punishment.

Wilfred (Wilf) James lives on a farm in Nebraska with his wife, Arlette, and their son Henry (Hank). Arlette hates farm life and intends to  sell her part of the land  (her dowry)  and move to the city .

She unsuccessfully tries to convince Wilf to sell his share, as well, and move to the city with her, but this doesn’t really matter, seeing as how she has the final say by default. As a mother, 14-year-old Henry falls under  her custody.  She intends to sell the farm to a livestock company, whose operations would  pollute even Wilf’s part of the property  (making it infertile and useless).

Hank, who’s fallen  in love with the neighboring farmer’s daughter , and Wilfred, who stands to lose everything if Arlette gets her way, plot to kill her. Because this happens on a remote farm, the duo successfully commits the crime, only to be haunted by their conscience.

In the end, Hank and his pregnant sweetheart are  killed during a robbery  (trying to mimic the life of Bonnie and Clyde).  Wilf loses his property , his son, and, ultimately,  his sanity , making the only logical conclusion that “In the end, we all get caught.”

1922 Movie: The Theme of Crime and Punishment

In  Dostoyevsky’s  Crime and Punishment , the Russian author deconstructs the concept of punishment in modern times. When we hear the word punishment, the majority of us immediately switch to thinking of legal consequences. Here, like in Dostoyevsky’s work, there are no legal consequences. Does this mean that the punishment is not present either? Of course not!

The fact that the three of them live on a remote farm is a perfect setup that, on its own, poses  an additional temptation . After all, Wilf and Henry know they can easily evade being discovered. They would have a huge problem keeping this hidden if they lived in an apartment building or a tight-knit suburb. Even with the blinds on and effective  sound absorbing panels  on the walls, getting rid of the body unnoticed would be nearly impossible.

As we already said, a crime without a punishment seems tempting to them. However, this is only so because the two fail to consider  different forms of punishment . Their guilty conscience turns out to be too heavy of a burden to bear and soon takes a toll on Wilf’s sanity.

The Recurring Motif of Irony

One of the most dominant motifs in the movie is irony. Wilf kills his wife to keep the farm but loses it anyway, mostly as a domino effect caused by the killing. When he falls ill, he becomes incapable of taking care of it, leading to its decay. Faced with this, Wilf gets indebted, and eventually, the farm ends up in the ownership of the livestock company that Arlette originally intended to sell her land. In other words,  he lost everything and achieved no effect in the process .

Another of Wilf’s motives for the murder is his desire to  keep his son on the farm . A combination of his actions and Henry’s guilty conscience eventually drive Henry away and to his death. Moreover, under the guise of protecting Henry (doing what’s best for him),  Wilf involves his own son in one of the most heinous crimes imaginable .

Namely, Hank helps kill his mother for being an obstacle to his love for his sweetheart Shannon. However, when Shannon gets pregnant, both of their fathers refuse to permit them to wed, thus making his own sacrifice completely useless. So, after killing his wife and “driving away” his son,  he remains alone on the farm .

Lastly, the most subtle example of irony is the fact that Wilf managed to  avoid legal prosecution  only to  succumb to the judgment of his own consciousness .

1922 Movie: Symbols Explained

The film itself is filled with symbolism of all kinds. Here are the three most common and  significant symbols  in the movie 1922.

Rats are the manifestation of Wilf’s guilty consciousness.  They first appear shortly after the murder  and seem to come from where they buried Arlette. Symbolically, this represents their conscience sprouting from a buried secret.

Still, the nest soon seems to not matter, as we are shown that Wilf can never run away from rats, no matter where he stays or how far he goes. This just further goes to illustrate their role as the  manifestation of his own guilt . A similar thing happens to Robert Pattinson’s Winslow in  The Lighthouse (2019) , where he cannot escape his past, no matter how far he goes to hide.

The form of a rat is not an accident either. Firstly, it’s a rodent towards which humans almost universally feel disgusted. A reaction of a guilty person feeling  physical disgust when faced with their own crime  is not unheard of.

The ending of the book and the movie are slightly different, seeing as how, in the movie 1922, it appears as if Wilf is devoured by rats. The same happens in the book, with a brief clarification that all the “rats” bite marks on his body were actually self-inflicted. In other words, in the book, King tells us more directly that  Wilf is delusional  rather than faced with some sort of supernatural punishment.

Right after the murder, Wilf and Hank seem shocked at how much work it takes to destroy the evidence of the murder. All the packing, lying, coming up with an alibi, and, finally, removing blood are incredibly difficult. The motif of the guilty party’s  inability to remove blood  is prevalent in literature. For instance, when driven mad by her conscience, Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth compulsively scrubs her (physically clean) hands, believing she can never wash off the blood.

Even though they manage to conceal the murder from the world,  they can never hide it from themselves . In other words, while no one else can see the blood on their hands, all three of them (Hank, Wilf, and Lady Macbeth) know it’s there.

Throughout the story, Wilf encounters two  ghosts  – Arlette’s and Hank’s. What these two ghosts have in common is the fact that they:

  • Appear when he’s alone
  • Represent people whose lives were directly ruined by Wilf’s decisions

Based on these two features, it would be logical to conclude that the ghosts  represent his guilty conscience, similar to the above-discussed rats . The problem is that these ghosts have one more supernatural feature:

  • Omniscience

Hank’s ghost knows the exact time and manner of Hank’s death, while Arlette’s ghost knows the conditions of Hank’s death (the event that neither she nor Wilf was present at). Here, both the author and the director leave some room for the supernatural, speculating that this might also be some sort of a  divine punishment  sent upon Wilf.

1922 Movie Ending Explained

1922 ending explained

The ending of the movie 1922 shows us that Wilf has lost his mind due to the guilt of murdering his wife and pushing away his son. His greed makes him lose everything, and he dies a slow death haunted by his conscience.

Finally, while definitely terrifying and a powerful deterrent, legal action is not the only thing keeping people from engaging in crime.  Our own conscience  can have just as menacing of a presence, even for those whose moral compass doesn’t seem to function at times. This is precisely what both King and Hilditch did their best to show.

What were your thoughts on the plot and ending of the movie 1922? Drop your comments in the section below.

Author Stacey Shannon on This Is Barry

Stacey is a talented freelance writer passionate about all things pop culture. She has a keen eye for detail and a natural talent for storytelling. She’s a super-fan of Game of Thrones, Cats, and Indie Rock Music and can often be found engrossed in complex films and books. Connect with her on her social media handles to learn more about her work and interests.

Stephen King Praises Highly-Anticipated Slasher With Short but Exciting Review

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Horror author Stephen King had only but praise for the upcoming slasher MaXXXine . The film, which isn't out in theaters yet, truly impressed King.

The horror mastermind often treats his followers to reviews on recent or popular horror productions , sometimes weighing in on other genres outside his area of knowledge. However, MaXXXine is right up his alley, and King praised the film on X with a brief review. " MaXXXine is terrific," the horror author wrote.

Kevin Bacon in Maxxxine

MaXXXine's Kevin Bacon Reflects on Going 'Full Circle' for 80s-Set Horror Film Role

EXCLUSIVE: Friday the 13th alum Kevin Bacon speaks about his return to 80s horror with his role in MaXXXine.

MaXXXine is the third installment in Ti West's horror trilogy X , following 2022's X and Pearl . The film follows two characters, Maxine "Max" Minx and Pearl, who are both portrayed by scream queen Mia Goth . So far, both films have been very successful.

"MaXXXine is terrific."

X holds the highest score in the franchise, with the critics giving it a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes , and 76% approval from the audience. Its sequel, Pearl , was also Certified Fresh, holding a rating of 92% from the critics and 83% from the audience. Both films were made on a $1 million budget each , and exceeded expectations, as the first one grossed $15.1 million and its sequel $10.1 million.

Maxine Minx waves to an unseen audience against a green backdrop of her worried face.

MaXXXine Director Explains Setting the Sequel in the Seedy Underbelly of 80s Hollywood

MaXXXine director Ti West discusses ending his trilogy of films with an exploration of the disturbing world of 80s Hollywood.

MaXXXine's Rotten Tomatoes Score Is Encouraging

The X franchise grew a lot from the first two films, gaining more popularity after the release of the two installments in 2022. For the third film, which is believed to be the last in the series, Ti West pulled all the stops, bringing in a star-studded cast. Aside from Mia Goth, who returns as Maxine Minx, she will star alongside Elizabeth Debicki, Moses Sumney, Michelle Monaghan, Bobby Cannavale, Halsey, Lily Collins, Giancarlo Esposito, and Kevin Bacon.

The upcoming slasher follows Maxine on her journey to achieve fame and success in 1980s Hollywood after making it in the adult industry. However, she is also targeted by a mysterious killer. The upcoming slasher's Rotten Tomatoes score has just been unveiled, and it's just as promising. MaXXXine is officially Certified Fresh , but it holds the lowest score in the franchise yet: 77% out of 102 reviews. However, these might fluctuate as new reviews come in after the film's premiere. So far, the audience's score is 82%.

Initially intended as a trilogy, in February 2024, the director admitted that he has plans for a fourth installment. West confirmed that MaXXXine "will probably be the end of the Maxine era," but continued that the universe might expand beyond Maxine's story in an interview with Entertainment Weekly . "I do have one idea that plays into these movies that could maybe happen," he mentions. "I don't know if it'll be next. It might be. We'll see."

Source: X , Entertainment Weekly

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Stephen King Praises New 2024 Slasher Movie With One-Sentence Rave Review

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Stephen King gives another 2024 horror movie his stamp of approval ahead of its July 5 release amidst a slew of horror projects coming this year.

MaXXXine (2024)

  • Stephen King

This Stephen King Book Has a Much Bleaker Ending Than the Movie

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The Big Picture

  • Stand By Me, the film adaptation of Stephen King's 1982 novella The Body, focuses on themes of adolescence, friendship, and loss.
  • While Stand By Me does deal with themes of death, the overall tone of the film is reflective and bittersweet.
  • King's novella, however, ends on a much bleaker note. While the film establishes that Chris has died at the beginning of the narrative, The Body saves this reveal until the end. The ending of the novella also reveals that all three of Gordie's friends are dead, not just Chris.

Stand By Me is one of Stephen King ’s most personal and autobiographical stories. It moves away from the horror genre the author is well-known for and instead focuses on adolescence and friendship. Directed by Rob Reiner , the movie centers on Gordie Lachance ( Wil Wheaton ) and sees him reflect on his childhood, particularly a long weekend where he walked along the railway tracks to find a dead body with his friends Chris Chambers ( River Phoenix ), Teddy Duchamp ( Corey Feldmen ), and Vern Tessio ( Jerry O’Connell ). Although the movie deals with themes of loss and isolation, the overall tone is retrospectively hopeful, as Gordie is reminiscing on the good times he had as a child. However, the original ending of the novella Stand By Me is based on, entitled The Body , has a much bleaker ending. Gordie is still a writer, using his childhood experiences as material , but the tone is much more upsetting . Revealing what happened to his small friendship group just re-emphasizes that Gordie’s childhood is gone, and he will never get it back.

stand_by_me_movie_minimalist_poster_01

  • Stand By Me

Based on a Stephen King novella, and directed by Rob Reiner, Stand By Me follows the story of a group of young boys who set out on an expedition to find the dead body of another missing boy from their hometown. The film stars Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, and Jerry O'Connell, and is considered one of the most influential films of all time.

'Stand By Me' Is One of the Greatest Cinematic Tales of Friendship

Stand By Me succeeds largely because of the chemistry of the four leads . The naturalness of their interactions makes them feel like authentic friends . From their incessant teasing to composing the most vulgar insults about each other's moms, it is clear the four of them genuinely enjoy each other's company. Particularly, Chris and Gordie share a deeper bond and Chris shows concern towards Gordie’s future, something Gordie’s parents stopped doing after his brother Denny ( John Cusack ) passed away. Similarly, Chris shows how comfortable he feels around Gordie when he breaks down, recalling the story of how a teacher abused her position of power and spent the milk money Chris stole and tried to give back. Their dynamic indicates how their relationship is more than jokes and tomfoolery, as it is with Teddy and Vern. The pair really rely on each other for emotional support, and there is maturity to their friendship.

The movie also utilizes narration successfully, as it feels like more than just a device for relaying information to the audience. Throughout the runtime, there are interludes from the writer ( Richard Dreyfuss ), who is an older Gordie. It reminds the audience that this is Gordie’s story, creating a wistful feeling of nostalgia as he reminisces about his childhood. It also creates a clear distinction between the past and the present, reminding the audience that what they are watching is a recollection of Gordie's youth .

Joan Allen in A Good Marriage

Y’all Need To Start Appreciating the Stephen King Thriller He Adapted Himself

What's scarier than killer clowns and bloodthirsty cars? The person sleeping next to you.

The Ending of 'Stand By Me' Is Bittersweet

Right at the beginning of Stand By Me, it is revealed that Chris Chambers was stabbed in a fast food restaurant whilst trying to break up a fight, with an older Gordie staring out into the distance, clearly reflecting on his childhood. This tone continues throughout the movie, showing that Gordie is reminiscing on the time he had with Chris and how he valued their friendship. There is sadness that Chris is gone, but it is bittersweet as the pair had not been in contact for years. Gordie types that he will miss Chris every day — and the decision to have this written instead of spoken indicates this sorrow , that he almost can't bring himself to admit that Chris is gone. The overall thesis is that childhood is the golden years, and you never have friends like the friends you had when you were twelve years old. Chris’ death allowed Gordie to remember that time of his life and finally immortalize it in his writing.

As for Vern and Teddy, they simply fade from Gordie’s life, but they are given fitting stories to offer closure to the audience. The movie recalls their futures in a way that reminds the audience that this is Gordie’s perspective — everything is slightly uncertain but sounds like it could be accurate. Although they aren’t a part of Gordie’s life anymore, there is a sense that they are still around and perhaps reflecting on that summer with the same fondness as Gordie. The movie then outlines how Chris and Gordie went to college together, and although Chris struggled, he worked hard and eventually became a lawyer. River Phoenix's performance outlines the sense of injustice Chris feels towards the world and the hand he has been dealt. The ending feels hopeful as it shows Chris did get out of Castle Rock and didn’t fall into the stereotype that was expected of him. There is a steady finality about it, and while it is sad, it's also contemplative.

How Is 'Stand By Me's Ending Different From Stephen King's Novella?

Richard Dreyfuss as the narrator sitting at his desk and working on PC in Stand By Me

Stephen King’s original ending for Stand By Me is a much bleaker portrayal of the instability of friendship. Chris’ death is not revealed until right at the end of the story , although the details are all the same. Keeping this information means the loss hits much harder than it does in the film adaptation. Seeing Gordie and Chris’ close relationship throughout the entire novella, which is similar to in the movie, only for it to be revealed that Chris is gone, is such an emotional gut-punch. It is not bittersweet and reflective like the movie — it's painful, and Gordie struggles with the news. Even if Gordie in the movie is mournful over Chris, the film chooses not to linger on this, whereas Stephen King’s original ending really emphasizes the overwhelming feeling of loss. However, it is not just Chris’ death that makes the book so upsetting — all three of his friends have passed away by the time Gordie is finally writing his story. It is sudden and jolting at the end of such a free-spirited story. Although the boys were going to find a dead body, the core mood of the original story was still centered around the freedom of childhood before girls and responsibilities .

As abruptly revealed in the novella, Vern was killed in a housefire at "a large drunken party" where someone fell asleep smoking a cigarette. Gordie notes that Vern himself may have been asleep "dreaming of his pennies," which perhaps will always be his lasting memory of Vern. King's choice to include the detail that they identified Vern and his four friends by their teeth feels distressing and unfitting for the naivety that Vern exuded as a child. Teddy, meanwhile, "went in a squalid car crash," his lifestyle leading up to his death, reflecting the likes of Ace and Eyeball. Teddy’s attempts to join the army and get out of Castle Rock make him sympathetic, and knowing he wasn’t given the ability to do so is disheartening.

Knowing that Gordie is the only one left of the group that the short story focuses on is deeply tragic . The mood doesn’t feel reflective as it does in the movie. Gordie's sentiment in the novella that "my friends are dead but Ace is alive" represents the harsh reality of Castle Rock and the injustice Gordie feels. King reiterates that this story is a nostalgic tale of freedom , but reality catches up with everyone. Not only is Gordie’s childhood gone, his friends are gone as well.

Stand By Me is available to rent on Prime Video in the U.S.

Rent on Prime Video

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IMAGES

  1. 1922

    stephen king 1922 movie review

  2. Movie Review: Stephen King's 1922 (2017) Starring Thomas Jane

    stephen king 1922 movie review

  3. 1922

    stephen king 1922 movie review

  4. MOVIE REVIEW: 1922

    stephen king 1922 movie review

  5. 1922

    stephen king 1922 movie review

  6. 1922

    stephen king 1922 movie review

VIDEO

  1. 1922 Movie Review in Hindi & Urdu

  2. [Review Phim] Người Đàn Ông XUỐNG TAY VỚI VỢ Chỉ Vì Một Mảnh Đất Màu Mỡ

  3. 1922 BOOK AND MOVIE REVIEW

  4. 4th April in the world of Stephen King

  5. Stephen King 1922 Audiolibro

  6. 1922

COMMENTS

  1. 1922 (2017)

    Mar 24, 2023 Full Review Zach Dionne Decider 1922 is a new type of Stephen King movie, executed with as much artistic inventiveness as passionate faithfulness. Mar 10 ...

  2. 1922 movie review & film summary (2017)

    1922. 2017 has truly been the year of Stephen King, but the last in a long line of films and TV shows is, in some ways, the most surprising. A remake of " It " was inevitable, even if no one expected it to be the box office behemoth it became. " The Dark Tower " was in some state of pre-production for years, and Mike Flanagan personally ...

  3. Netflix's 1922 is a reminder of what Stephen King does best

    Which is why 2017's latest King adaptation, Netflix's feature film 1922, comes as such a comparative relief. It isn't trying to lay the foundations for a grand, cosmic universe. It isn't ...

  4. '1922' Review: The Year's Most Impressive Stephen King Adaptation

    September 23, 2017 3:03 pm. "1922". The Netflix-produced " 1922 " has jolts of violence and sweeping period details, but in a year overrun with Stephen King adaptations, it's also the ...

  5. '1922' Review: Netflix Takes a Stab at Stephen King

    Film Review: Stephen King's '1922' Reviewed at Fantastic Fest, Austin, Sept. 23, 2007. Running time: 101 MIN. Production: A Netflix release and presentation of a Campfire production ...

  6. 1922

    1922 is a new type of Stephen King movie, executed with as much artistic inventiveness as passionate faithfulness. Full Review | Mar 10, 2023.

  7. 1922 (2017 film)

    Budget. $5 million [1] 1922 is a 2017 American horror drama film written and directed by Zak Hilditch, based on Stephen King 's 2010 novella of the same name. Starring Thomas Jane, Neal McDonough, and Molly Parker, the film was released on Netflix on October 20, 2017. [2]

  8. 1922 (2017)

    1922: Directed by Zak Hilditch. With Thomas Jane, Molly Parker, Dylan Schmid, Kaitlyn Bernard. A simple yet proud farmer in the year 1922 conspires to murder his wife for financial gain, convincing his teenage son to assist. But their actions have unintended consequences.

  9. 1922 Review

    Verdict. Well acted and decently directed, 1922 might please audiences who haven't seen other, better films about cold-blooded murderers who get their comeuppance. But audiences who are familiar ...

  10. 1922 Review

    1922 is a tale of human guilt, divine consequence, and good old fashioned King-ly horror, with a performance by Thomas Jane that only solidifies his standing as one of the most underrated actors in th

  11. '1922': Film Review

    The year's third Stephen King adaptation, '1922,' follows a farmer (Thomas Jane) plagued by guilt after murdering his wife. ... Movies; Movie Reviews '1922': Film Review | Fantastic Fest 2017 ...

  12. 1922 Movie Review

    Parents need to know that 1922 is based on a novella by Stephen King and is a violent, gory tale of murder and insanity. Set in the year 1922 on a farm in Nebraska, intense conflict within a family leads to its destruction. Shot with every intent of shocking and disturbing its audience, the film basks in the macabre, including (spoiler alert) an abundance of rats -- climbing in and over ...

  13. 1922 (2017)

    1922 review. Ben-Hibburd 20 October 2017. Warning: Spoilers. 1922 is a slow, methodical look at guilt and the consequences of moral compromise. Adapted from Stephen King's novella, 1922 is a film that will divide certain audiences. After a summer of successful, suspenseful King adaptations (IT, Gerald's Game), this is almost an anti-king film ...

  14. 1922

    Based on Stephen King's 131-page story telling of a man's confession of his wife's murder, 1922 is told from from the perspective of Wilfred James, the story's unreliable narrator who admits to killing his wife, Arlette, with his son in Nebraska. But after he buries her body, he finds himself terrorized by rats and, as his life begins to unravel, becomes convinced his wife is haunting him.

  15. '1922' Movie Review: Another Excellent Adaptation of a Stephen King Story

    October 20, 2017. Thomas Jane delivers one of the best performances of his career in Netflix's 1922, a 2017 adaptation of Stephen King's 2010 novella which was published in his Full Dark, No Stars collection. Zak Hilditch wrote and directed the grisly horror film which follows a murderer who's increasingly plagued by reminders of his actions.

  16. Film Review: 1922

    Even with Jane's strong performance, 1922 still could have been a sober, fairly unremarkable story about rural crime, and that brings us back to that crucial element of weirdness.Also like Gerald's Game, Hilditch relies on King's bizarre imagery to make an otherwise normal setting unique.1922 isn't supernatural, per se (any paranormal elements come from Wilfred's unreliable narration ...

  17. 1922 movie review: A haunting horror film; Stephen King's hot-streak

    1922 movie review: After the record-breaking success of It, and fellow Netflix original Gerald's Game, Stephen King's remarkable success streak continues with this haunting new horror film.

  18. Stephen King '1922' review: Netflix film probes murder

    In what's already been an absurdly busy year for Stephen King adaptations, "1922" - a taut, exceedingly spare Netflix movie based on the prolific author's novella - is a reminder that ...

  19. 1922 Review: Netflix Delivers Slow-Burn Stephen King

    Haleigh Foutch reviews '1922', the new Netflix adaptation of Stephen King's short story starring Thomas Jane as a man who murders his wife and

  20. 1922 (Netflix)

    Based on Stephen King's novella and starring Thomas Jane, 1922 is an atmospheric horror-thriller about betrayal and guilt on a Midwest farm. ... How will it all end for the murderous Wilf and Henry, find out in 1922. 1922 Movie Official Trailer. ... Latest Reviews. 1. 4.5 Poor. Spaceman. Film Netflix. 2. 9.4 Amazing. Shōgun. Disney+ Series. 3 ...

  21. What are your thoughts on 1922? : r/movies

    What are your thoughts on 1922? Discussion. I just watched Stephen King's 1922, and thought it was awesome. Awesome acting, pretty great cinematography, beautiful dialogue, and an engaging, although brutal and heart breaking, story. Then I checked rotten tomatoes, and saw something in the 90% range from critics, but like 57% audience score.

  22. 1922 Movie Explained (Plot And Ending Analysis)

    1922 Movie Explained (Plot And Ending Analysis) Zak Hilditch's 2017 adaptation of Stephen King's novella 1992 is a psychological horror about crime and punishment. It delves deep into the effects of guilty consciousness, its manifestations, and its impact on the lives of perpetrators. This article will take you through the movie's most ...

  23. 1922: Biggest Differences Between Stephen King's Book & The Movie

    Biggest Differences Between the Book And The Movie. The first major difference audiences notice between the novella and the film of 1922 is that this film really moves. The book is a slow-burn story that starts with a lot of lead-up the main action and a long decrescendo after Arlette's murder. The film gets to Arlette's death very quickly ...

  24. Stephen King Praises New 2024 Slasher Movie With One-Sentence Rave Review

    Stephen King offers high praise for MaXXXine, A24's upcoming slasher film. Written and directed by Ti West, this horror movie serves as the third installment in West's thrilling X film series ...

  25. Stephen King Praises Highly-Anticipated Slasher With Short but ...

    Horror author Stephen King had only but praise for the upcoming slasher MaXXXine.The film, which isn't out in theaters yet, truly impressed King. The horror mastermind often treats his followers to reviews on recent or popular horror productions, sometimes weighing in on other genres outside his area of knowledge.However, MaXXXine is right up his alley, and King praised the film on X with a ...

  26. Stephen King Praises New 2024 Slasher Movie With One-Sentence Rave Review

    Stephen King gives another 2024 horror movie his stamp of approval ahead of its July 5 release amidst a slew of horror projects coming this year. Screen Rant. Menu. Close ... Stephen King Praises New 2024 Slasher Movie With One-Sentence Rave Review MaXXXine (2024) By SR Staff. Published 34 minutes ago. Thread Your changes have been saved. Email ...

  27. This Stephen King Book Has a Much Bleaker Ending Than the Movie

    Stand By Me, the film adaptation of Stephen King's 1982 novella The Body, focuses on themes of adolescence, friendship, and loss. While Stand By Me does deal with themes of death, the overall tone ...