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“Gerald’s Game” – Movie Review

Netflix and director Mike Flanagan bring Stephen King fans a satisfying and faithful adaptation not to be missed.

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Official movie poster for,

Official movie poster for, "Gerald's Game", produced by Intrepid Pictures and distributed by Netflix

Official movie poster for, "Gerald's Game", produced by Intrepid Pictures and distributed by Netflix

Jarod Borem, Managing Editor

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Gerald’s Game marks the fifth Stephen King adaptation to be released this year, and aside from 2017’s “It”, it’s easily one of the better King adaptations we’ve seen in a very long time. Gerald’s Game is Netflix’s newest original film and is based off of the 1992 novel of the same name in which an older married couple, played remarkably by Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood, travel to their remote cabin for the weekend in an attempt to reconnect through a kinky sexual game. Horror strikes however, when Gerald (Bruce Greenwood) suffers from a fatal heart attack and Jessie (Carla Gugino) is left handcuffed to their bed with no way of escaping, all while a rabid hungry dog lurks outside and a strange unwanted visitor welcomes her at night.

Gerald’s Game is one of King’s lesser beloved novels and was considered by many to be unadaptable as the majority of the film has our protagonist handcuffed to a bed with only her deep, dark, and twisted mind to keep her company. However, director Mike Flanagan achieved the impossible by not only creating a faithful adaptation (from what I have gathered) but, a bloody well made and thrilling film from start to finish…well, almost. Carla Gugino delivers an award worthy performance as Jessie, not only does she have physical restraints and must act entirely from a bed for the majority of the film (similar to James Caan’s character, Paul Sheldon, from 1990’s Misery) but, take after take, Gugino remains authentic and vulnerable, never coming off as an actress acting but a real woman terrified for her life. It is one of those performances that can either make or break a film but thankfully for Gugino, she carries the film on her shoulders and triumphs.

Not to be overlooked is Mike Flanagan’s excellent direction and screenplay co-written with Jeff Howard, which takes the at surface simple and straightforward narrative, and turns it into something unique and wholly original. Howard and Flanagan wisely broke up the narrative with surprisingly well utilized and hearftbreaking flashbacks along with some thrilling sequences involving Jessie’s delusional inner monologues. The cinematography, while simple, is quite effective. Seamless transitions between Jessie’s monologues and flashbacks are achieved with the exquisite use of lighting and miraculous camera movement, giving you the impression of watching a stage play for dramatic effect. 

The whole execution of the film is honestly quite impressive, what brings forth problems however aren’t so much the filmmakers’ fault as it is Stephen King’s. The problem with Gerald’s Game is the lackluster and unfulfilling finale and conclusion of the film (taken straight from King’s novel) which felt tacky, cliched, and forced. Thankfully the ending doesn’t completely ruin the film by any means but, it’s quite upsetting that the final 10 minutes don’t give the previous 90 much justice. In the end, Gerald’s Game is a fantastic contained thriller which delivers on both atmosphere and tension. Flawed? Yes. Worth a watch? Absolutely! 3.5 out of 5 stars (7/10).

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“Gerald’s Game” – Movie Review