At a remote lake house, Jessie must fight for survival after her husband
dies of a sudden heart attack, leaving her handcuffed to the bed.
Gerald's Game (2017)
Directed by Mike Flanagan
Written by Mike Flanagan and Jeff Howard
Starring Carla Gugino, Bruce Greenwood, Henry Thomas,
Carel Struycken, Chiara Aurelia, Kate Siegel
Based on the novel by Stephen King
Gerald's Game has always been one of Stephen King's most controversial stories. It deals with some serious taboo subjects, including voyeurism, pedophilia, and necrophilia. So, when Netflix chose the story for a feature film, it was a surprise. The story all takes place in one room with one character, so aside from it being disturbing, it also seemed unfilmable. Ultimately, I think the credit goes to Oculus director Mike Flanagan, who managed to transform this harrowing story of survival into a coherent, tense, and powerful film.
Carla Gugino turns in a career-defining performance as Jessie Burlingame, the consistently victimized wife of chauvinistic Gerald (Bruce Greenwood). Jessie and Gerald head up to their remote lake house for a weekend sex romp, which ends unexpectedly when Gerald dies of a massive heart attack, leaving Jessie handcuffed to the bed. What follows is Jessie's horrifying realization that if she doesn't somehow get out of the cuffs, she's going to die slowly and painfully. Every scene from there on is intense, even Jessie just trying to get a drink of water. Just like the story, the film preys on all your senses and constantly has you on edge. Flanagan even left in the hugely controversial eclipse scene, which sees Jessie remembering the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her father. However, not once does anything in the film feel gratuitous or forced. It's masterfully done, considering the source material is mostly psychological.
Gerald's Game caps off a banner year for Stephen King fans. While The Dark Tower was a monumental disaster and It began a resurgence of a King renaissance, Gerald's Game is another film to add to every fan's midnight King movie marathon. It's a brilliant adaptation of the novel and a solid horror thriller in its own right, filled with flawless performances and unforgettable moments. Here's hoping this film opens the floodgates for more dark horse King movies in the near future, and a multi-picture deal for Mike Flanagan.