Gerald's Game Review: Overcoming The Psychological Trap

Carla Gugino in Gerald's Game | Netflix
Photo: Carla Gugino in Gerald's Game | Netflix

Gerald's Game

Director

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Mike Flanagan

Cast

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Carla Gugino & Bruce Greenwood

Genre

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Horror, Suspense

Rating

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Avg user Rating

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We generally have a couple of Stephen King adaptations every year. This year, we are going well beyond the average, with a flurry of Stephen King material on the screen. Netflix too wants in on the game and with a huge library of books to choose from, it has taken the risk to adapt two King novels: Gerald's Game and 1922. To many avid King fans, Gerald's game is the least filmable of the Stephen King novels. But, Mike Flanagan loves the book a lot and he has taken it upon himself to do the story some cinematic justice. The director accomplishes something that - the highest grossing Stephen King adaptation this year - IT didn't, and that's nail-biting suspense.

Jessie and Gerald are a couple headed towards a posh isolated retreat by a huge lake. As they drive in their car, there's visible air of discomfort between them. The small vacation is an elaborate effort by the couple to rekindle the lost flame that is their marriage. As they try to spice up things in the bedroom, Gerald handcuffs Jessie in a kinky foreplay, which, repugnantly devolves into his inner rape fantasy. A disgusted Jessie asks her husband to back-off and uncuff her, but before he is able to do so, Gerald suffers a Heart Attack. Caught in a precarious position, Jessie now has to survive in an isolated house cuffed to a bed.

Gerald's game is more than a survival story. It is Jessie fighting her doubts, low self-esteem, and her torturous past. A few minutes into her ordeal, she begins to hallucinate and her life begins to unravel. We learn about how the two important men in her life traumatised her emotionally and physically. Gerald's constant dismissal of her intelligence, condescending sexist remarks and mental abuse have given her a sense of inferiority. She doesn't just have a physical battle of breaking away from the trap; she also has to mentally overcome the pains of her past. As Jessie tackles one fear after another, she reaches closer not just to her freedom but also finds closure: moving on from the mental shackles that were holding her back.

It is easy to see why the fans thought that the book was impossible to adapt. The movie is dealing with a person's thought - which takes an expert to convey cinematically. You bear witness to some master class in editing and direction during Jesse's hallucinations. It is quick, snappy and gripping - building the momentum of the movie. Mike Flanagan doesn't do silly jump scares and instead builds tense suspense by depicting Jesse's vulnerability and that will genuinely make you uncomfortable.

Gerald's Game does have an ending that feels weirdly disconnected to the movie. It might just about ruin the entire movie experience for some due to its disruptive tone. If you can exempt that, then Gerald's Game is a neatly packed suspense about overcoming your fears, finding closure and starting a new chapter in your life.

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