Film: Review – Gerald’s Game

By Bill

Netflix is back with another sure-fire hit … This time a movie adaptation of the Stephen King novel Gerald’s Game … the world has gone Stephen King crazy this year …  Now, I am a Stephen King fan and have read a whole bunch of his novels, however I haven’t ever managed to get around to reading this 1992 suspense/horror novel. I thought I knew the premise, however there were elements I had no idea about that proved a nice twist on what I thought I knew the film. If you’re having a Friday night in, you won’t go far wrong putting this on … just try not to watch it if you live alone, as I did …

 

The film, directed by Mike Flanagan (Hush and Oculus), features a long-married couple who head off to their coastal retreat, a mile away from another living person, so that they can rekindle their love. The husband, Gerald (Bruce Greenwood) wants to handcuff his wife, Jessie (an excellent, Carla Gugino) to the bed to elevate their romantic adventures. Unfortunately for Jessie, things take a turn for the bad when Gerald is accidentally killed, leaving Jessie handcuffed to the bed with no apparent means of escape and no sign of anyone finding her for many months. This sets off a tense hour and half where we seldom leave the bedroom (aside from some revealing flashbacks that deal with a dark past).

 

 

So far, so good, as thrillers go, but I bet you’re thinking that this doesn’t exactly sound too Stephen King-esque. It doesn’t take long for Jessie to allow the voices in her head (or are they) to take over and act as an ‘angel/devil’ archetype, that at times I found to be a tad annoying and heavy handed, but all-in-all, did work in the end. Once night falls, however, Jessie starts to realise that she might not be alone in the house after all, and that what is there, might not be too friendly … this is where it becomes more recognisable as a Stephen King work. That’s as much as I will say (or can say) without giving away any spoilers.

 

The two main strengths of this film are Carla Gugino (yes, her from the Spy Kid’s franchise) who provides a harrowing, and pitch-perfect performance as the terrified captive. The other thing that elevates this to the level of ‘great Stephen King adaptation’ is the tension, which at times builds to very uncomfratble heighs, without ever having to rely on jump scares (luckily for me, there isn’t one, as I hate them). A film that can create such tension and horror without relying on cheap genre clichés, is okay in my book!

 

 

One of the main reasons the film works so well, is because it’s very easy to imagine yourself in her position, (I’m not saying I often find myself handcuffed to my bed, but you get where I’m coming from … right?) Luckily the film is quite short and so we aren’t stuck with this one tableaux for too long, as I think it would soon become tedious, but luckily Mike Flanagan knew what he was doing … although he has made me very mistrustful of dogs, which I’m not sure I can forgive him for…

 

I won’t go into the ending, only to say that the film offers up a little reversal on what we’ve come to understand, and although it works as an excellent twist, it is done a bit too heavy-handedly and I felt that the director could have used some more creativity in his shoe-horning in of a last second reveal, that, I assume fits with the source, as King himself, is not exactly known for his deft handling of plot points.

 

 

All in all, it is a very effective horror/thriller, and whilst it’s never quite as good as say It or Misery, it does do what it says on the tin, offering an excellent performance, a well-paced plot, and a creepy darkness that will pervade my dreams for many moons to come … let’s just say I won’t be looking forward to the next eclipse …

 

Did you love Gerald’s Game? Let me know on Twitter @MugwumpBlog

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