Netflix Original movie Gerald’s Game is released this Friday, promising Stephen King and horror fans left hungry for more after IT something to really sink their teeth into. But what exactly is the deal with the movie and – more importantly – should you check it out?
Netflix has made a lot of different original movies – from child soldier drama Beasts of No Nation to a string of Adam Sandler comedies – but their latest may just be their most intense. In the story, a struggling, age-gap married couple try to spice things up with a weekend away at a remote cabin. Their experimentation goes horribly wrong when the husband – Gerald – has a heart attack mid-way through sex, leaving wife Jessie handcuffed to the bed. The meat of the book follows Jessie’s attempts to escape, as well as the increasingly haunting hallucinations she experiences, revisiting her traumatic past and re-evaluating her marriage.
ANOTHER 2017 Stephen King Film
Yes, Gerald’s Game is an adaptation of Stephen King’s 1992 novel of the same name. Regarded as one of his weaker writings, it still evidently has a strong premise for a film if done in the right way. And the movie we’ve got is a fairly faithful adaptation narrative-wise, hitting all the key story and narrative beats – King himself will surely love it. So, if you’ve read it, you know exactly where it’s going. If you haven’t, though, you’d be smart to avoid spoilers – it’s quite a journey.
The King connection is very interesting as Game is the third movie based on his work this year after The Dark Tower and IT, and won’t be the last either; another Netflix Original, 1922, will be available on the streaming service from October 20.
The Cast and Crew
The film comes from Mike Flanagan, one of the biggest emergent names in horror filmmaking. He’s previously directed Oculus and surprisingly good Ouija prequel Origin of Evil, a back catalogue that’s led to him becoming a key Netflix filmmaker; his previous home invasion thriller Hush – whose twist on convention was making the victim deaf – was also a Netflix Original and next year he’s bringing a new take on The Haunting of Hill House to the service. His hallmark is emotional, character-driven stories that operate entirely apart from their horror trappings still wrapped up in carefully director terror, which perfectly fits Gerald’s Game.
Obviously given the premise, it’s a rather light cast, with Carla Gugino doing most of the heavy lifting as Jessie, slowly deteriorating on the bed, and Bruce Greenwood playing Gerald (in both real and vision form). There are other actors in there, but to say who they are and explain their role in the plot would take us into spoiler territory.
Is It A Full-On Horror?
With the King inspiration and Flanagan calling the shots, Gerald’s Game is intrinsically dark. But is how much is it a full-on horror? Well, while the film is conceptually a stripped-back psychological thriller focusing heavily on the panic of being trapped and the mental state of its protagonist, it does cover quite a range of horror sub-genres. The nighttime sequences almost take us into jump-scare supernatural territory while a key sequence – which won’t spoil – has a level of torturous pain comparable to Misery (and gore that would be too much for Saw).
So it’s gory, it’s creepy and so while its plot is not necessarily horror, it’s as tense as you can imagine. Don’t go into this one expecting an easy night afterward – regardless of handcuffs.
What Are The Reviews Saying?
Gerald’s Game screened to critics at Fantastic Fest and through Netflix’s normal distribution, and the reaction on all counts is incredibly positive. At the time of writing, there are only 11 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, but only a single one is negative and still gives it a rather average write-up. The reaction is shared by fans who’ve seen it, with all around praising it as a great genre picture.
Before Friday, you can check out the trailer below:
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