So only weeks after the success of , another of ’s novels has been adapted for film and this time it’s the turn of Gerald’s Game.
tales the tale of Jessie and her husband’s Gerald’s weekend away hoping to spice up their sex life and invigorate their marriage they embark in a sex game which leads to Gerald having a heart attack.
What follows is a tale of what a handcuffed Jessie has to endure. As always be warned that this review will include some ********
I want to start off with celebrating how amazing this script is. Jeff Howard and the film’s director and Editor Mike Flanagan have done and awesome job of taking the book and putting it on screen.
It manages to perfectly pace out what could become a stale setting and deliver on all accounts what is a solid film. I’d like to categorise it as horror but it could go under psychological thriller or even a character piece. Gerald’s Game transcends genres and keeps the viewer on their toes.
Flanagan also put together ‘Hush’ a great and originally slasher movie concept that is well worth a watch if you haven’t before.
The cast are what was expected. They’ve manage to cast two really solid and established actors for this film and the performances are exactly that established and solid. I have had a crush on Carla Gugino ever since she portrayed Sally Jupiter in Watchmen and her appearance in Sin City but these roles were secondary and
Her deterioration feels genuine and the characters desperation and suffering are sold even from the off, where you can tell there is a pain within the character. By the end Jessie has regained control of her life but Gugino still has that look in her eye. Bruce Greenwood isn’t massively stretched but plays the role of arsehole perfectly.
The heart attack is genuinely convincing though. I was taken aback by when the film introduces our very Stephen King supernatural-esque element of
or The Moonlight Man who is played by Carel Struycken or you may know him as Lurch or that guy next to Frank The Pug in Men In Black. Carel as always is visually captivating and the final scene (which I will discuss shortly) gives the character vulnerability buried within the evil he has committed and Carel plays that well.
Special shout out to the dog that nailed his part of eating chunks of meat throughout. Listen out for a little nod to Cujo that was popped in there.
The films key strength is in Stephen King’s premise.
Most will agree but the worst way to die is slowly and with knowledge of what’s happening. This is exactly that, a purely desperate situation where as a viewer your immediately shouting at the screen trying to theorise ways for Jessie to survive.
My main concern going into this film was that it may be similar to the likes of ‘Open Water’ and suffer from pacing issues but boy does Mr King have some curveballs in this story to stop that from happening. The initial dynamic of Gerald and Jessie in itself is extremely watchable and offers enough conflict for starters but when Jessie begins to literally have her life flash before her we get this subplot reveal itself.
This is the tale of an awful childhood event that may have led to Jessie choosing a man like Gerald in the first place. The key scene in the flashbacks is truly horrible to watch and the playing out of a solar eclipse matches the rising of tension for this sequence. There is also a scene after this that offers an insight into the manipulation of someone who has been sexually assaulted and it’s maybe just as awful to witness as the assault itself.
Another fear that is played on is a simple one….being in a dark room and being alone. Even in the north west of England, in a lovely village, on a Tuesday night if it’s dark and you are tired then you might misinterpret your curtains to be a figure or shadows to be moving so when we meet our Moonlight Man it serves up a perfect dose of classic boogeymen horror and did take me off guard at times for some genuine jumps and frights.
As mentioned earlier though this movie is more than one genre and as well as a monster horror this is SAW style cringe and look away from the screen horror. The future infamous hand scene is wonderfully grotesque and made even a Horror fan wince. I’m not sure if this was what looked to be a mixture of practical and special FX but it looked fantastic.
A general grey colour pallet to the film other than the Eclipse scenes gave it the bleakness maybe matching the bleakness of the situation and Jessie’s life since the Eclipse. Some point of view, ‘peep show’ style camera shots offer intimacy for the viewer and adds to the increasing intensity to scenes, this also allowed you to enjoy every inch of the actor’s performances.
The film’s ending did feel a bit strange to me.
I was ready for the film to end in a typically ominous fashion when Jessie crashes during her escape and was kind of happy with that to happen too. You’ve spent the whole film speculating if she will survive; it may have been fun to have forever been speculating.
I also loved the portrayal / representation of Death buuuuut when the twist comes that this death like figure taunting Jessie throughout her escape was in fact a Raymond Andrew Joubert I felt perplexed. Death was infact a bloke who was a sufferer of Acromegaly which is why he looks how he does. Raymond breaks into crypts to steal their jewellery and progresses onto killing people and taking their body parts.
Jessie was the one who helped capture Raymond once she had recovered from amnesia. It’s a twist that I wasn’t expecting and to be fair I do enjoy being surprised but in retrospect I felt confused. I started asking myself what moments were reality and what was in her imagination, when were the action that of the dog and when were they Raymond. When she sees The Moonlight man when is it Raymond and when is it just her trauma manifesting itself.
This final 10 minute sequence also explains how Jessie now uses her sexual assault to help kids who have also experienced similar events. This all felt like a ‘and she lived happily ever after’ moment and I would’ve liked the mystery to have continued into the credits and beyond.
I was not ready to enjoy this film as much as I did. The script was so reverting and well composed that I found myself even fantasizing about this being adapted to a stage show like ‘woman in black’.
It is a horror film with a character driven backdrop and one that explores hope, secrets, and our brains limitations. If you like to squirm and cringe (in a good way) then this is the flick for you. If you like monster or boogeyman films then this is for you. If you like intense character focussed script pieces then this is still the movie for you.
This gets 7.5 handcuffs out of 10 for Ben Outta Ten
Netflix release date: 2017
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