Gerald’s Game (2017)

geralds game poster 2017 movie stephen king
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 7/10

Good concept

Concept doesn't necessarily transfer to film

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Gerald’s Game 

Studio:  Intrepid Pictures

Genre(s):  Horror/Mystery/Suspense/Drama

Release Date(s):  September 24, 2017 (Fantastic Fest)/September 29, 2017 (US)

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

geralds game jessie handcuffs bruce greenwood carla gugino

Gerald likes to play

Gerald (Bruce Greenwood) has a game to play with his wife Jessie (Carla Gugino) to spark their marriage which has been floundering.  When tragedy strikes, Jessie finds herself alone, handcuffed to the bed, and unable to free herself.  Trapped in her own head, Jessie must begin to question what is real and what is fake…and how, if possible, she can free herself.  Jessie’s past is coming back to haunt her, but a real danger might be lurking in the dark.

Directed by Mike Flanagan, Gerald’s Game is based on Stephen King’s 1992 novel.  The film is loosely linked to Dolores Claiborne (1995) which was also linked to the novel.  The film was initially released at Fantastic Fest on September 24, 2017 with a Netflix release of September 29, 2017.

I remember reading Gerald’s Game when it was new.  Stephen King has a lot of novel and there are novels scarier than Gerald’s Game, but the book does play upon some basic fears…the movie almost reaches those fears but it is the nature of a book that keeps a movie from reaching them.

geralds game eclipse scene

What happened during the eclipse?

The book is largely cerebral…it is about what is going on in Jessie’s head and that doesn’t always translate to film.  Having her physically talk to herself and her dead husband allows the story to be told, but it doesn’t feel the same as when it is in her head completely.  The horror really builds in the story as you question “what would I do”.  Here, it seems to come fast and furious and doesn’t really get time to breathe.  It is the inability to be able to move in addition to the fear that really got me in the book, but the movie motors a bit too fast to really give that horror.  The addition of the eclipse subplot (which really fuels all the action) also feels underdeveloped as a result of being compressed for the film.

Carla Gugino almost gets it.  She is fine as the victim caught in the horror.   She has so much she needs to emote, and it isn’t necessarily possible to ratchet up the horror easily.  It sometimes feels a bit too forced, but for the most part, her performance is rather solid.  Bruce Greenwood plays Gerald who we never really get to know since it is Carla’s perception of him.  Due to that he comes off as kind of a jerk and I don’t know if that is what you are really supposed to think of him.  Henry Thomas and Kate Siegel play Carla’s parents in the flashback sequence but never get much screen time.

geralds game moonlight man carl struycken

Is he real?

The movie is rather simple visually because it is a simple concept.  A woman is trapped and cannot free herself.  It really eliminates the options for the filmmaker so he has to make the most of what he gets.  It might have been interesting to shoot it as a first person (almost found footage) movie since you are supposed to be Jessie essentially…though it probably would have been infinitely harder.

Gerald’s Game is a short and semi-effective Stephen King film that feels like it could have been slightly bigger and better.  The source material is both a problem and a blessing (it isn’t King’s most dynamic book), but it does have an interesting lead.  This lead character gets a little buried by time and the attempt to bring it to film.  It would be interesting if they redid Dolores Claiborne to really tie it to this film (but that film stands on its own).

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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