02nd Oct2017

‘Gerald’s Game’ Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Carla Gugino, Bruce Greenwood, Henry Thomas, Carel Struycken, Kate Siegel, Chiara Aurelia, Gwendolyn Mulamba | Written by Jeff Howard | Directed by Mike Flanagan


Mike Flanagan has been on a pretty successful run when it comes to horrors. With Absentia, Oculus, Hush and Ouija: Origin of Evil, it is fair to say he has brought us well made horror that actually delivers. Now that Gerald’s Game has arrived on Netflix, can he continue his success.

Gerald’s Game is the story of Jessie Birlingame (Carla Gugino) who agrees to go on a retreat with her husband Gerald (Bruce Greenwood) to find the spark in her marriage. Letting him handcuff her to the bed to spice up their love life, things go horribly wrong when he dies of a heart attack, leaving Jessie trapped with her own mental demons, along with what lurks in the shadows of the seemingly empty house.

When looking at the concept of Gerald’s Game, it mustn’t have been the easiest story to adapt to screen. A woman handcuffed to a bed with only her mind to keep her comfort isn’t exactly the most exciting concept. This though is where Stephen King’s style helps a lot.

At the start we are presented with Jessie as something of a blank canvas. With her world caving in around her, her thoughts (given personification by her husband and a version of herself) work to either help her find solutions to problems, or scold her for the way she perceives she has failed. This includes her dark past.

I won’t go into much about what is revealed about her past, because that is for the audience to discover for themselves. The revelations work well with her situation, and go a long way to helping the audience understand some of her reactions to what she has been through, and to her husband when he was alive. It is also arguable that maybe he would have been more understanding if he had known what she had went through.

This is the kind of character King is strong in creating, while his books may be a little too long at times, he likes to go into his characters in-depth and fully flesh them out. This is what we see with Jessie, and this is what the film is all about, understanding exactly who Jessie is, and what she must face to be able to free herself off the bed her husband has handcuffed her to. If you are noticing a certain amount of metaphorical imagery at use there, then you are understanding the themes at work. This is about freeing herself from her past and the life she is living at that time.

To further add to the horror of course, there has to be those outside elements that make things even more darker. One of them is given away early, you’ll know that this creature is never a good thing in a Stephen King story. The other element though is more interesting, because of the mystery of the thing in the shadows. Again, I won’t spoil it, but there is a question whether they are real or not, and I like the payoff from that one.

Gerald’s Game is a film that is well worth watching, especially with the fact it has released on Netflix so is available now. Mike Flanagan has shown that he is once again a horror director that you can trust to deliver. Gerald’s Game may not be one of the best Stephen King films, but this film definitely brings out its strength on the screen to deliver the horror where it counts.

****½  4.5/5

Gerald’s Game is available on Netflix in the UK now.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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