Stories of murder can be horrific, gripping, or even funny. They probably shouldn't be dull and rote but 2017's 1922
took that route. Based on a presumably better Stephen King novella, the film's robotic, adequate compositions and cinematography combined with actors who never seem quite like they're in the same movie to give the impression of a rudderless production helmed by a person or persons without anything resembling passion or artistic impulse.
I saw Stephen King tweet about this new movie on NetFlix a few days ago, based on his novella and starring Thomas Jane. I really missed Thomas Jane on The Expanse
and I have a NetFlix account so I thought I'd check it out. I wish I hadn't. Jane is, indeed, the most interesting part of the production, playing the stoic but desperate farmer with a tight jaw and a really broad accent--an accent no-one else in the film has, not his son, Henry (Dylan Schmid) or his wife, Arlette (Molly Parker), or anyone else. For all the exposition from Wilfred about how things were in 1922, as compared to what I guess was 1930 or so, the film never really establishes a sense of that time and place. People talk and act mostly like they're from 2017.
Wilfred narrates the film which portrays the events we see him writing about in a notebook in a little hotel room. He explains how, in 1922, a man's pride was his land and his son and he further explains how a man's wife was considered his to do with as he pleased. It would have been nice if we'd seen this illustrated in the behaviour of the sheriff who comes to investigate after Wilfred kills her, or some support for the idea that Wilfred grew up in a culture that supported notions of men possessing women. Or at least teased the possibility but Wilfred with his broad accent seems isolated in his world of adequate, hacky compositions that probably got someone a good grade in a film class but do nothing to enhance or establish mood or emotion in the story.
There are ghosts and rats and cg, all with less impact than the haunted house put on by your local elementary school, and a whole lot less fun.