Raymond Andrew Joubert Explained
Overnight while tied to the bed, Jessie is visited by a tall, disproportioned figure (played by Carel Struycken, best known as Twin Peaks' giant). He stands silently in the corner with a bag full of bones and personal items, moving slowly towards her every time she looks away like a night terror she can't awake from. Most of his "backstory" comes from self-suggestion in Jessie's mind; while trying to rationalize him as a trick of the light (or moonbeams) she begins to view him as an embodiment of death. Within this, there is a lurking suggestion there really is something physical here - the dog slowly feasting on Gerald is spooked by his presence and a bloodied footprint is left on the floor. This all comes to a head as she escapes and he's stood right at the end of the top floor corridor; slowly making her way past, she deposits her wedding ring in his bag of trinkets. He's last seen in the body of the film in the back of the car, causing her to crash.
Images of him continue to haunt Jessie after she's escaped, representing how coming to terms with her past and helping others hasn't fully freed her; in a chilling callback to something she thought to herself on the bed, the wedding ring she gave to the figure was never found. And the explanation really is terrifying.
The monster was actually Raymond Andrew Joubert, a very real necrophile-turned-serial killer who suffered from acromegaly, leading to his extreme proportions. He started as a graveyard vandal in Alabama, stealing jewelry from recently buried corpses, then escalated, desecrating bodies and eventually stealing various parts of the anatomy - and at one point went full Ed Gein and "preserved" his family. Joubert came across Jessie seemingly by accident, taking body parts from Gerald (which she assumed to be the actions of the hungry dog). He was finally discovered when he moved to straight-up murder and was caught mid-act.
While the twist obviously shows that Joubert was real, there's evidently moments where it all was in Jessie's head; he didn't sneak into her apartment every night. Shorthand, anytime Joubert appears in the red light of the eclipse or with supernaturally bright eyes, this is safely in Jessie's head; her mind's taken his image and is using it as an emblem of her fear. The other case where it's an imaginary killer is when Jessie talks with Gerald about him being under the bed - the hand reaching up has to be in her mind. Everything else, however, appears to be real.
It's initially unclear why he spared Jessie. In the letter, she presumes it's because he was reported to favor male victims when it came to mutilation, which in the context of his stalking is all the more unsettling. When she confronts him at his arraignment, however, we learn they may share a strange connection; upon seeing her, he breaks out of his handcuffs and says "you're not real, you're only made of moonlight" - exactly what she thought he was.
Ostensibly this suggests that Joubert didn't kill Jessie because he didn't know there was anything to kill - we already know of his skewed view on the world - but the similar wording connects the two greater. The ending is, of course, framed as Jessie's moral victory and there's no attempt at making Joubert sympathetic, yet them sharing the core line (one he may have picked up from her) makes clear that what we've discovered Jessie's experienced through her life is not an isolated incident. They're both suffering. The dog becomes symbolically important here as it having a collar yet no owner, then later feasting on the dead sees it share traits of both characters - everybody hurts.
But the final line - "you're so much smaller than I remember" - brings us right back to the true focus: Jessie is free. Gerald's Game is a movie exploring how the journey, no matter how torturous, shapes you; and so the ending isn't just cathartic for our character, it's a message of hope for everyone.
Next: Gerald’s Game Review
- Gerald's Game (2017) release date: Sep 29, 2017