‘Gerald’s Game’ Netflix Review
‘The Dark Tower,’ ‘The Mist’ television series, and the return of Pennywise The Dancing Clown. 2017 has been good for Stephen King adaptations unless your name happens to be ‘The Dark Tower.’ Netflix has been on a roll with their Netflix original content, especially this year. The year of Stephen King adaptations continues with the Netflix original movie ‘Gerald’s Game.’
A beautiful drive up to a beautiful lake house followed by wild weekend sex and $200 Kobe steaks, sounds like a terrific time. All this was meant to spice up Jessie and her husband, Gerald’s relationship. Gerald decides it would be kinky to handcuff his wife to a bedpost. He gets rough with her, and Jessie becomes uncomfortable with him. The two ponder as to where their marriage is going. Gerald suddenly clutches his chest, his eyes go wide, and he dies of a heart attack. I think he may have popped too many blue pills before playtime. Jessie is still handcuffed to the bed. No one is around except for a hungry stray dog, and she realizes she has very little hope of surviving. She does everything in her power to escape, fight off the dog, and she begins to let the voices in her head take over.
Watching an individual struggle out of handcuffs for about two hours seems like a magic trick gone wrong. Which is why director Mike Flanagan (‘Oculus’ and ‘Hush’) and co-writer Jeff Howard focus on more than just Jessie trying to escape.
A majority of the action and story takes place in Jessie’s mind. Jessie, played by one of my favorite actresses, Carla Gugino (‘Sin City’ and ‘Match’) does a great job of being her physical character that needs to escape. On the other hand, she does a great job of being her character’s inner voice thoughts. Throughout the movie, her thoughts almost feel like a separate character, and the voices in her head get the best of her emotions. By this I mean, she did well being the Jessie character that needs to escape, and the Jessie whose judgments sound more hectoring than helpful at times.
Yes, Jessie being handcuffed to the bedpost is the scary part of the story, but some of the real terror and tension comes from Jessie’s mind. Within her mind, she is being harassed by her mindset, her past, family, flashbacks, what she believes to be the voice of Gerald’s spirit, and her imagination. I think this was a smart move to show how our thoughts can lead to terror. Gugino also shows in her performance the panic in her face and voice. She is terrified, irritated, and doing everything in her power to remain sane.
The film also did an impressive job to show how the handcuffs are symbolic. Maybe it’s just my opinion, but Jessie seems like she was already in handcuffs before dealing with this situation. She is trying to break free more than only some chains. She is trying to break free to let go of her past and simply move forward.
If you are someone who is like me, a horror-head is looking for blood, guts, ghouls, and ghost; I think you will still enjoy this. This movie isn’t a horror movie it’s more of a psychological thriller. With no serial killers, no jump scares, and not too much violence. The most violent part of the film is when Jessie is getting ready to pull out one of her hands through the handcuffs. This shows how Flanagan is a director who can deal with horror, while also dealing with tension and great drama. Horror doesn’t always have to be blood splatter and the typical stuff we’ve seen before. It can be psychological, and Flanagan shows that very well in ‘Gerald’s Game.’
I know you dog lovers are going to hate me for saying this, but the hungry stray dog in this movie is an asshole. Gerald even referred to him as Cujo once. He wasn’t as malicious to Jessie as I thought he was going to be. However, the way the dog picks and nibbles on Gerald’s corpse in front of Jessie seemed like he was a dick about it.
The camera shots and cinematography work well here. It makes you feel like you are in a claustrophobic environment. I thought it was a nice touch to show close-ups and overhead shots of Gugino’s face from the very beginning. That way viewer’s know early on that her mindset and thoughts are the main engines and driving force of this film.
I did enjoy this movie, and I believe this is a good take on the 1992 book and the year of faithful Stephen King adaptations continues. ‘Gerald’s Game’ is more than just a simple survive or die tale. It is about the horror that goes through our minds, and how it has an impact on our reality. Even though I was expecting more physical horror, this did not disappoint. Mike Flanagan has not made one film that I was disappointed in after seeing. It has a proper ending that feels earned, but Gugino and Flanagan seem to be trying just a little too hard to push the message of a woman fighting back in a male-dominated society. That being said, the ending made for a surprise twist, and I had a good time watching it, and I think most people will as well.
I’m always interested in a Stephen King story coming to the big or the small screen. So if you are a fan of Stephen King books, what is your favorite Stephen King story that hasn’t already made its way to the screen? For me, I think it would be nice to see ‘Rage,’ ‘Joyland,’ and ‘Doctor Sleep.’ Thank you all for reading and or viewing.
‘Gerald’s Game’ is now streaming on Netflix.