We’re in the middle of quite the Stephen King reissuance with big screen adaptations of The Dark Tower and IT making waves with fans and the general movie-going public, the latter of which becoming the highest grossing horror film in history. Now streaming giant Netflix have entered the ring with the spellbinding and suspenseful Gerald’s Game, based on one of King’s more obscure titles from 90s.
In an attempt to spice up their marriage Jessie and Gerald retreat to their remote lake house for some intimacy, but when Gerald suddenly dies of a heart attack following a failed attempt at some deviant role play, Jessie is left handcuffed to their bed frame with no means of freeing herself. I haven’t read the novel nor will I for probably a long time, but I suspect I would be right in my assumption that director Mike Flanagan has managed successfully to capture the significant elements and themes of the source material remarkably well for only 100 minutes of screen time. At its core Gerald’s Game is a jarring story about a woman who has been oppressed and victimised by domineering men throughout much of her life. Jessie’s dangerous predicament is highly symbolic of a her sub-conscious being, and the fact that viewers can interpret this as a visual representation of an individual’s mental breakdown or actuality is a stroke of genius. Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood are on par with their performances as the distantly married couple. Gugino reveals a saddening vulnerability which she seamlessly evolves into death defying strength and determination; while Greenwood, of whom I’ve been a long-time fan of, excels as the disturbing yet charismatic Gerald, serving as the voice of pessimism and doom.
Taking into account the striking imagery, use of colour, tone and its cleverly crafted story, Gerald’s Game is horror at its truest and pure, possibly 2017’s best. While I commend Netflix on this unprecedented effort, they kind of dropped the ball in promoting this feature, so I encourage you to help spread the word!
(2017, dir: Mike Flanagan)