If you’re a Stephen King fan but too agoraphobic to head to the theaters for IT, have I got a recommendation for you! An exceptionally well-done adaptation of the novella 1922 comes to Netflix October 20, and you really ought to check it out. You know you’ll be itching to watch some horror then. While GERALD’S GAME may be the better known of the two recent Stephen King additions to Netflix, 1922 sets the perfect creepy vibe to get you in the mood for the Halloween season.
I had an opportunity to meet not only Zak Hilditch, the Australian filmmaker who adapted the novella and directed the film, but also two of its stars, Molly Parker and Thomas Jane. If those names ring a bell, Molly Parker garnered an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Alma on DEADWOOD and Thomas Jane blew us away as the lead in another film adaptation of a Stephen King novella, THE MIST.
Having been drawn to the collection of novellas, Full Dark, No Stars, by the striking cover art, Zak Hilditch read and loved 1922 somewhere around 2011. Assuming someday Frank Darabont may make a film of the captivating story, he moved on with his life and made a film called THESE FINAL HOURS.
“That sort of opened up doors to me over here to make my first American film.” He explained, “When I was in that transitional phase, I was reading stuff, developing stuff, but kept coming back to 1922. I just couldn’t let the images or the story escape me. I was sort of obsessed with it.”
When inquiring whether or not anyone had the rights to it, he was surprised that no one even seemed to know what it was. “I couldn’t believe I was able to just swoop in,” he recounted with an enthusiastic smile. “It was my first adaptation. I hadn’t done one before, and it was like a perfect cheat-sheet to have, like something that cinematic already …and it’s Stephen King.”
He wrote the script and got King’s blessing, but it wasn’t until he got together with producer Ross Dinerstein, who suggested taking it to Netflix, that the ball really got rolling. On his experience with Netflix, Zak Hilditch remarked, “This kind of movie will reach many more people this way than if it was an indie release.”
Molly Parker added, “There’s been this space for the last few years, a sort of void financing those character-driven films. To me it’s really exciting that Netflix is taking this space to make the films that studios aren’t making. I grew up in a small town, and we didn’t have an art-house theater in my town. You didn’t find weird, interesting movies. You had to really search them out and find out about them, and maybe you couldn’t even go see them. Just to have access now, you know, people everywhere can sort of access their thing, and there’s enough people who will like that thing to justify making a movie about it, even if it’s a smaller pie than what a studio would do.”
Thomas Jane revealed how he got involved in yet another Stephen King film. “They sent us the script. Even though I’m a Stephen King fan, I hadn’t read…that book. He’s written so many damn books; that one had escaped me. I read the script first then I went back and read the novella, and Zak’s right. It plays out pretty much just like a movie. It’s very well done. It’s all there, everything you need. King really did a wonderful job, did a great examination or expurgation of family. We like Stephen King, right?”
Molly Parker also hadn’t read the short story. “Zak sent me the script, and then he and I got on the phone to talk about Arlette. He said, “I can’t think of anyone else to play Arlette,” and I don’t know whether that’s a compliment.”
The room broke out in laughter as Thomas Jane added, “Strange thing to say.”
It’s often very interesting what attracts an actor to a role. Molly Parker had this to say about it.
“I was interested in the era and the people and the relationship, and I wanted to try to just inhabit her in a way that was true to the kind of person she was, but full and complex. What I do really love about it is that these people feel like they have a real love and hate, a real relationship, and that circumstances somehow put him in a position. It’s more than just about land; it’s about identity and about survival and a way of being that is alien to me, but fascinating.”
Thomas Jane describes how he developed his character.
“…Just from reading the book and studying some of the photographs of the era and some of the old paintings of that kind of life. [And from] studying that kind of life, who those people really were, where they came from, and what it took to survive in that kind of environment. It’s very different than what we’re used to, and I wanted to bring something to the table that was different from what we’re used to.”
Filming outside of Vancouver had its challenges. “There were some pretty hairy conditions we were shooting in: losing light all the time, and the rain, and the rain, and the rain, and the mud.” but Zak HIlditch praised the crew “We had such an amazing crew. They were just all really excited about this and the Stephen King of it all; just a really good bunch of people up in Vancouver.”
It probably helped to have an enthusiastic director. Molly Parker had this to say about working with Zak Hilditch. “Zak’s a pretty sunny guy. Zak was excited and clearly having a really great time making the film and that’s what you want working with a filmmaker.”
Available on Netflix beginning October 20, 1922 transports you to a different era and creeps you out like any good Stephen King adaptation should. Check it out.