2017 has been a banner year for Stephen King adaptations, but the batting average hasnt 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 Netflixs Geralds 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 TVs The Mist and the Audience Networks 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 2017s King adaptations: they arent 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 2017s latest King adaptation, Netflixs feature film 1922, comes as such a comparative relief. It isnt trying to lay the foundations for a grand, cosmic universe. It isnt trying to build characters who can sell their own merch and carry their own spin-offs down the road. Its just a simple, single self-contained horror story.
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