Director: Mike Flanagan
Stephen King is a name that is synonymous with horror, he has been relevant in that genre for over 40 years, writing classic novels that would eventually be turned into classic movies. Films such as Carrie, Cujo and Pet Sematary, were all adapted from King’s literature, they would all go down as great films in the annals of horror movie history. Although many of King’s works made a successful transition into cinemas, seemingly equally as many have been poorly received, most recently, we saw this with the film adaptation of King’s famous Dark Tower series of books. I remember watching Cujo and Pet Sematary, there was a certain tone about those movies that only seemed to be captured when adapting a King novel, I thought that unhinging quality was lost, with the last good adaptation of a Stephen King novel being 2007’s The Mist. Luckily for us, 2017 is looking like a banner year for Stephen King adaptations as It was a major box-office success and now Netflix successfully delivered unto us, Gerald’s Game.
The premise for Gerald’s Game is actually quite easy to summarize. Gerald (Bruce Greenwood) and his wife Jessie (Carla Gugino) run off for a weekend getaway to a house by the coast, it is clear their marriage is struggling, although we are not immediately privy as to why that is. Gerald wants Jessie to loosen up, so in an effort to spice up the relationship, Gerald handcuffs Jessie to the bed posts and starts to get a bit rough and kinky. Jessie, well she isn’t having any of this hanky panky stuff, she is more of a traditional girl, so when she rejects Gerald’s advances, Gerald gets a bit flustered and his ticker pretty much conks out, which sucks for Jessie because she is still handcuffed. The rest of the film is what can Jessie do to free herself? What would you do?
I liked the movie, I thought it was a return to form for a Stephen King adaptation, one I hadn’t seen before. The film is closer to a Misery type novel than it is a Pet Sematary or It, so do not expect ghouls and goblins to emerge from the darkness…. well, mostly don’t expect that. I am not a fan of exposition, I do not like a plot or story to be hand fed to me, this movie finds a clever way to explain what the character is thinking that is sort of exposition but not really. Jessie effectively has a mental breakdown of sorts and has hallucinatory conversations that serve to tell us what her thought process is, I am going to call that a loop-hole and give it a pass, I think it works for this movie and the Director and cast do a great job in the delivery. Be forewarned, there are some pretty squeamish and gory sequences in the movie, it is meant to unnerve you, to bring tension to the film and man does it work, I seriously had to look away momentarily for one particularly gruesome moment, I really do not recall the last time I had to do that!
Overall good movie, yet another solid production by Netflix, which more and more will give cinema films a run for their money, I mean they just keep producing quality original material. With that being said I do, however, have a gripe or two with the film. Firstly, we have seen movies about basically ONE character, such as Cast Away, that do not drag, this movie gets bogged down, it is as if they dove just a bit too deep into Jessie’s psyche. Secondly, the last 5-10 minutes of the movie…..not good. It seems as if the those final minutes were ripped straight from the novel, I haven’t read the book so I don’t know for sure, perhaps it was a nod to the fans? It really serves zero purpose, it does not move the story further, it does not give us useful information; I do not understand why it is there. We are given a conclusion to the story, one I found original enough, that I liked it, instead of stopping they just keep going, basically just hurting the film. Although it comes close, the added minutes do not ruin the movie, just sort of adds useless stuff that we really didn’t need to know. Overall, Stephen King and psychological horror fans should be happy with the product, if you have Netflix, I think this one is worth a look.