Netflix releases Stephen King Thriller “Gerald’s Game”
When Netflix first released they were going to make a movie out of “Gerald’s Game” and that it would be released around the same time “IT” was, I was stoked. I love Stephen King’s work. Or, rather, I love to hate it. Everyone I have talked to who has read Stephen King says the same thing: he’s a genius, but he’s an evil one with a cruel side that likes to play with your emotions. Or, in the case of “Gerald’s Game,” your mind.
I haven’t read the book. Yet. But by now, I like to say that I’ve got a pretty good grasp on King’s MO. And, for the most part, I was right on the money with what I should expect from both King and Netflix.
I follow King on Twitter and there was one thing he posted a few weeks before Netflix released the movie that stuck with me: “Don’t watch this alone.” He posted that along with the trailer. Of course, I watched it since I recognized the title as one of his books (I actually own the book, I just haven’t gotten to read it yet).
When I watched the trailer, I remember thinking, “Pssh. Oh yeah, Mr. King? Watch me. I bet it’s not that scary.” I own every movie that’s been released from the Conjuring Universe at this point and I’ve watched them so many times, I can quote along with them. The Insidious movies have a great storyline but I don’t find them that scary either. The Sinister movies, “Poltergeist,” “Mama,” “The VVitch,” “The Babadook, “IT,” “The Woman in Black” and “The Woman in Black 2,” I can go on and on. I can’t remember the last time I’ve watched something that really scared me for any longer than perhaps during the movie.
So, I took King’s challenge not to watch it alone to heart. And I’m honestly kind of glad that I watched it in a very well lit, semi-public area instead of at home in the dead of night.
Let’s get something clear: the movie itself isn’t really scary. There aren’t any sketchy dolls, demonic nuns, or crazy clowns wandering the set, waiting for you to let down your guard so they can jump in front of the camera and yell, “Boo!”
But the concept is terrifying.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the story, “Gerald’s Game” is about a couple who have been married for years. Hoping to – er – “reconnect,” they go away for a weekend to their isolated cabin in the woods. Gerald, played by Bruce Greenwood, is looking to spice things up a bit in the bedroom, so he handcuffs Jessie, played by Carla Gugino, to the bed … and then he has a heart attack.
I think that’s basically all you need to know. Your mind should be able to at least start filling in the blanks of what’s about to happen next.
Oh, did I mention they forgot to close the door to the cabin? Yeah, that opens up even more possibilities, hm?
As I stated earlier, I haven’t read the book yet so I can’t tell how this screenplay compares to the novel, but I can say that as a stand-alone-script, it was very well written.
In addition to that, the producers did a marvelous job casting the characters – again, for now, we’ll just have to set aside how they compare to King’s original characters.
After spending hours alone with no food or water, her dead husband on the floor at the foot of the bed, it’s not surprising Jessie starts to hallucinate things. And from there, the audience is thrown into her world of water-depraved near madness. We quickly learn lots of things about Jessie and Gerald’s marriage and even more about Jessie herself. Predictably, she has to sleep at some point and we’re given glimpses into her past in memory-dream form.
The thing that makes this story so compelling and uniquely scary is that there is nothing particularly outlandish in it. Everything that happens is real – there aren’t any weird spiritual forces like there are in “Pet Semetary” or “The Shining.” Everything that goes down in “Gerald’s Game” is 100 percent entirely possible and not that difficult to imagine.
Of course, not everyone is into chaining their significant other to the bed, that’s not what I’m talking about. But the mistake of not getting the door all the way closed, leaving the house open to strangers and wild animals. The possibility of being stuck somewhere physically and unable to do anything about it. Forced to suffer the effects of dehydration and starvation. Going to the extreme to survive. They aren’t every day occurrences, but it’s not like they’re impossible.
I don’t want to give away the best parts of the movie, the things that make it truly twisted and disturbing, but I will say that there is so much more to this movie than what I originally thought. And there is so much more to it than what I’ve told you. I don’t want to give it away.
Ultimately, I would give “Gerald’s Game” a four out of five star rating. At five stars, I basically plan to own it someday. With four, I consider it something I would watch more than once.
Netflix’s newest installation of this classic King novel isn’t for everyone, that is the easiest statement to make about the movie as well as probably the most obvious. It’s deep, dark and extremely twisted. It has images and concepts that could be triggering and may even be considered traumatic for some. But, if you’re like me and you enjoy a craftily told story with a macabre twist that makes you go “… what did I just watch?” at the end, then I highly suggest giving “Gerald’s Game” a try. Just keep in mind: it’s not for the faint of heart. And maybe take King’s advice: don’t watch it alone.