Director: Zak Hilditch
Cast: Thomas Jane, Dylan Schmid
Watch 1922 online in the UK: Netflix UK
“Inside every man there’s another man – a stranger.”
So says Nebraskan farmer Wilfred James (VODzilla.co favourite and star of The Expanse Thomas Jane), whose ‘stranger’ turns out to be willing to commit cold-blooded murder in order to retain his possession of his isolated farmstead. Worse, he talks his 14-year old son (Dylan Schmid) into helping out. They fool the local sheriff and their neighbours, but discover there’s one thing they can’t escape: the guilt they feel. We know things end badly, because the film opens with Wilfred confessing his sins. But boy, watching exactly how bad things get is a trip.
Based on a Stephen King novella, and set over the course of the titular year, the fact Wilfred James’s son is named Henry brings to mind Henry James, whose 1898 novel The Turn Of The Screw is a bedrock of gothic horrors. But 1922 more immediately brings to mind another of King’s influences, Edgar Allen Poe, in particular the classic short story The Tell-tale Heart. But here, instead of a murderer who’s haunted by the insistent thumping of his victim’s still-beating heart beneath the floorboards, King’s take is, typically, even more deliciously macabre: Wilfred’s guilt has a physical manifestation: rats.
The body of their victim deposited down the farm’s well, Wilfred worries that filling in the well will arouse suspicion and so hits on the – frankly insane – idea of chucking a live cow down after the body. A cow plummeting down a well is just one of many jaw-droppingly gruesome scenes director Zak Hilditch presents us with – kudos to the art and special effects departments. As with the best of King, it’s grisly and kind of funny, which makes it all the more unsettling.
From this mass of dead meat, a nest of rats emerges, chittering and scrabbling throughout the farm – even nibbling at cows’ udders in the barn – as Wilfred and Henry’s sanity is slowly chipped away. Guaranteed to make your skin crawl, and full of disturbing scenes, 1922 won’t be for everyone. But, for those who can take it, this is a first-rate scary story – claustrophobic, tense and creepy as all hell.
1922 is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.