Thursday, October 5, 2017

Gerald's Game: My take on the Movie Based on Stephen King's Book


Gerald’s Game starts innocently enough, a married couple arrive at the family’s lake house, ready for a quiet weekend of R&R. As in Rough sex & Reconnection. The husband, Gerald, (Bruce Greenwood) is a handsome, slightly older, little blue pill popping guy who packs a pair of shiny, steel handcuffs for the trip. The younger wife, Jessie (Carla Gugino) packs a slippery, satiny negligee. It’s that kind of weekend.

Except it isn’t. Minutes after the couple engages in bondage,  Gerald having locked Jessie to the bedposts with the heavy handcuffs, she begins to freak out. He’s a little too into it, revealing a rape fantasy she never knew he had. He stops—finally—and they argue. Before he can remove the shackles, he has a heart attack and dies, leaving Jessie alone, helpless, so far away from people no one will hear her scream. We know that because Gerald has teased her earlier. Go ahead, scream, he mocks his helpless wife, no one can hear you. Nice guy.



The rest of the movie we watch Jessie’s attempts to escape, as fear and weakness set in, she hallucinates, confronting her past. She imagines her husband has come back to life, his critical voice continuing to put her down while her inner voice keeps thinking, planning, plotting. 

There is plenty to make you squirm—a terrifying, feral dog lapping at her husband’s body on the floor, a bogey man looming in the shadows, making my heart beat faster, but mostly a very bad dad. 

I’m not usually a horror fan—the adrenaline pumping isn’t necessarily a sensation I enjoy—but as a pyschological thriller Gerald’s Game kept me gripped for the entirety of the 1 hour and 43 minute film. Ultimately it’s a story of a woman overcoming her ghosts, confronting her weakness, fighting back and finding her strongest truest self. 

Personally, I’m grateful that the bogeyman character is treated exactly the way Stephen King apparently treats him in the novel. Not a bogeyman, not an imagined intruder at all but a real serial killer whose body is distorted, his head deformed via some disease. Grateful because that real monster is the only unrealistic thing in the movie, its eyes radiating red, head bulging. He was ridiculous, absurd and, for me, a welcome reminder that this was fiction, just a movie. And I could go to bed, to sleep, perchance to dream. No nightmares.

Gerald’s Game is on Netflix, featuring fantastic performances by Gugino and Greenwood along with Chiara Aurelia, playing what must have been a very uncomfortable role as the young Jessie. 

From what I gather Stephen King fans agree this was a pretty lousy novel BUT this is a frightening and successful screen version of same.


Here’s the trailer but beware, at 2:34, it’s all there. I’d watch the movie instead.


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