It is the year of the King and it just keeps getting better! Directed by Mike Flanagan with a screenplay by Jeff Howard, Gerald’s Game is the latest adaptation of one of Stephen King’s novels. Gerald, played by Bruce Greenwood, takes his wife, Jessie (Carla Gugino), to a secluded cabin so they can spice up their marriage. After handcuffing her to the bed, things become a bit too much for Jessie and she demands that he release her. However, before he is able to, Gerald suffers a fatal heart attack. Now, Jessie must find a way to free herself before she dies in the middle of nowhere, handcuffed to a bed.
Before pressing play, I wasn’t sure how they would make this interesting. The initial set-up is quite intriguing but just how engrossing can a film be with only one character handcuffed to a bed? Well, it turns out it can be as gripping as handcuffs on your wrists. Gerald’s Game is more than just a woman being handcuffed to furniture. It is a deep and thought-provoking story about a woman trying to break free of the metaphorical shackles she has been in her entire life.
Carla Gugino is phenomenal as Jessie. From the very beginning, she fleshes out King’s character to a tee. Jessie is a kind woman who has been putting up with far too much for her entire life and it’s killing her from the inside out. Her dire situation only furthers the desperation that has been lying dormant inside of this woman for her entire life. Gugino’s emotional portrayal of Jessie is flawless and will soften up even the most stoic of viewers. I have been a fan of Carla Gugino ever since I saw Spy Kids as a kid, but the emotional range that she has shines during this performance. I hope we get to see more of her now that this has been released, and she has proven how incredibly talented she is.
Bruce Greenwood also does a fantastic job. I’ve always admired actors who take a well-known character and bring them to life on screen. There is so much pressure to not piss off the original fans, and Greenwood does not fold under that pressure. Gerald is a self-serving narcissist who is completely oblivious to the fact that he abandoned his wife emotionally a long time ago. Plus, his role doesn’t end with the heart attack. As shown in the previews, Jessie proceeds to have self-aware hallucinations starring her husband and herself throughout the runtime of the film. His doubtful and completely unsupportive attitude is hard to stomach at times, making him a hard character to watch, never mind like.
Gerald’s Game also has a layer to it that I was not aware of. I do not want to give away spoilers, but I do want to warn people that there are plenty of incredibly disturbing scenes in this film. These moments are not your typical horror movie scares, either. These are the kind that will make your skin crawl and may be too much for some viewers. There was one moment that I honestly asked myself whether or not they took it too far. Do I think it was necessary for the story’s development? Yes. Do I think that it could have been more of an implication instead of playing out before my eyes? Also, yes.
One thing in particular that I enjoy about Stephen King stories is the way he weaves his other tales into the current one. There are references to Dolores Claiborne, Cujo, Bag of Bones, and The Dark Tower. He doesn’t just write great stories. He has also created a universe separate from our own. This universe is self-aware, intelligent, and completely terrifying. I can’t wait to watch this again and see if I can’t spot more nods to the writer’s other work.
Overall, I absolutely loved Gerald’s Game. I was on the edge of my seat for most of the film and then retreating in quickly in repulsion at other times. Much like King’s other works, this film will be the puppeteer and you are its puppet. The film is art at its finest, and from the cinematography to the acting, it is beautifully done. Gerald’s Game is on Netflix, and what a powerhouse this company is turning out to be. I only hope that they will release it on Blu-ray as well. I totally get that the platform isn’t going anywhere, but for horror collectors like me, I want it in my collection, and not just as a digital download.
What did you guys think? Did Gerald’s Game live up to your expectations? Let us know in the comments and make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for all things horror!