Gerald's Game Review
by Phillip Wilcox "Our Movie Demon"
It seems like ever since the poorly constructed and executed adaptation for Stephen King's The Dark Tower came out a few months ago, I feel it was made up to us with two way better film adaptations that showed up on Netflix. One of those being GERALD'S GAME starring Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood, and directed by Mike Flanagan. Whom I thought was a perfect fit to direct this picture! If you haven't seen his past work like Oculus, Ouija: Origin Of Evil, and Hush, then you owe it to yourself to see these films. If you have Netflix, definitely see Hush. Fantastically crafted white knuckle suspense-horror! Mike Flanagan is a very visually yet cerebral driven filmmaker. It isn't JUST about showing you great visuals with him and his films, it's about getting inside of the head of not only the characters, but the audience as well. And that is what we have here with GERALD'S GAME. It feels like no one else should really be taking on this material, because the great Stephen King is also a very visual and cerebral storyteller. Even as you're reading his books, you do in fact get very deep within the mind of the characters. You know their past, their secrets, their inner most thoughts. Also King's prose has a way of dropping you smack dab in the middle of the world he has written. You are capable of visualizing everything that is happening. I feel that is what Flanagan has successfully achieved in this adaptation. Yes of course, there are changes and things that are different between the book and the film, but the film works because the essence of the story isn't lost. The respect for the character is still intact, and they are allowed to breathe and flourish.
What I feel Flanagan has carried over from his previous film Hush, is the ability to tell a very contained story. Because that's what GERALD'S GAME is about. A stuck in a rut married couple, Jessie and Gerald, who go away to their secluded lake house to spice up their love life. Gerald has a little game planned for his wife as he handcuffs her to their bed posts. Only during their kinky fun, Gerald has a fatal heart attack, leaving Jessie alone to fend for herself and try to survive. Their neighbors are away, the maid and gardener won't be back any time soon. She is completely alone with nothing but time and her mind to keep her company...Well, that and a hungry, scavenging stray dog who will eat ANYTHING (or anyone) to survive. What I find particularly incredible about the story in general is that Jessie uses painful past repressed memories, and her hallucinating visions of her husband and her "other self" to help keep her sanity in a way and help her get through this horrifying ordeal. What the human brain will do to keep one's self alive. I've always said, The human body may be fragile, but the will to survive is unable to be broken. The mind will do whatever it takes. And visually it's so spectacularly represented. Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood are at the top of their game with this film! I mean yes, they are definitely given amazing material to work with. But I mean come on! These actors are doing what they do best, and that is giving outstanding performances at every scene! I've seen the film twice and I can say with confidence there isn't one scene that falls flat, and that is all carried on the shoulders of the performances. After all, the entire film essentially takes place in one location. So there's only so many places we can go, thus going within Jessie's psyche. And in turn, the film gets inside ours. Carla just provides us with such a powerful performance through the picture, never stumbling or failing. It's flawless.
This is one Stephen King film adaptation that stimulates our brain while torturing our nerves with an ever-tightening grip on suspense as the film goes on. It's available on Netflix NOW. So I highly recommend it! Whether you simply enjoy Stephen King stories, are a super fan of his work or even if (God forbid), you're typically not the biggest fan. GERALD'S GAME is definitely a film to check out!