Stephen King must be rolling in the money the past few months. With the release of IT (Andrés Muschietti, 2017) and now the release of Gerald’s Game (Mike Flanagan, 2017), only available on Netflix, he must be laughing at his success. There is no surprise that King has a net worth of over $400 million, when he can produce stories that are both great as novels and movies. Gerald’s Game hit Netflix just last month and has defiantly proved this theory right, with one of the best Netflix original movies I have seen. It has a truly engaging storyline and film techniques good enough to make any film nerd scream with excitement.
Plot: When Jessie (Carla Gugino) and Gerald (Bruce Greenwood) go on a romantic getaway to spice up their sex life, Gerald decides to handcuff Jessie to the bed. Unfortunately, before any of the fun begins, Gerald has a heart attack and dies, leaving Jessie handcuffed to the bed, with no one around to get her out. She must either try to survive long enough for someone to find her or find a way to get out herself. Luckily, she has the hallucinations of herself and her dead husband to help her through her nightmare.
Review: Firstly, any film that can have such an interesting and captivating narrative that keeps audiences on the edge of their seat, whilst being set in just one room is a rare and beautiful oddity in film making. As Jessie is strapped to a bed in one room and all she is able to see is the inside of her bedroom, this is all the audience is really able to see. We are confined to the mental and physical observations of our trapped character. For Jessie the world outside doesn’t exist so for us, it doesn’t really either. Space was an important part of the filmography and it is clear throughout.
Now the prospect of just watching a character strapped to a bed for 1h and 45 mins does sound very boring. She would have no one to talk to and she wouldn’t really be doing much but struggling and screaming. Well, she imagines herself and her dead husband talking to her and trying to help her live. This prospect is a really fun and interesting idea used within the film. It can suggest that her subconscious is really trying to survive and offers some innovative solutions to the conscious Jessie, who just can’t seem to stop panicking and crying. It seems as if the survival instinct is a separate part of Jessie, which allows her to keep ticking, even when she is a mess. Plus, it allows the audience to see her thought process in a more creative way, compared to her just talking to the air or hearing an internal monologue. Plus, it makes Jessie seem extra crazy. This however, may be just down to Stephen King being an excellent writer, rather than the director.
The sub plots are also appealing and provides both a large character development for Jessie and builds in elements of horror. The film shows flashbacks to Jessie’s traumatic childhood and added ‘hallucinations’ of death/ the moonlight man, a very creepy man who lurks in the shadows and appears in the moonlight. First we are given the horror of Jessie being shackled to the bed and then stuck to the bed with a monster on the loose. What I’m saying here, is the plot is fantastic. It is a unique yet simple storyline that offers a creative way of presentation that can be appreciated by both film fanatics and non-film fanatics. On the other hand, I am unable to comment on if the film sticks to the novel and how much I should be praising Stephen Kings writing rather than the directing of Mike Flanagan, as I have never read the book. (I do pan on reading it after I’ve finished Stephen Kings Misery… 200 pages left). If you have read the Novel, I would be interested in hearing your thoughts.
The conclusion to the film could have been a bit more dramatic. For those of you who have seen the film, I mean the last few minutes rather than the really gross and gory part. I do have to give them credit for the gross out factor. Not many films can make me cringe quit like that scene could. I mean, everything is wrapped up in a little bow for us fussy viewers. It was a typical Hollywood ending. For a film that focuses mainly on straying away from cinematic norms, perhaps they could have kept this prospect until the very end.
Despite, the incredible character development of Jessie, I do believe that Gerald’s storyline is lacking. We learn very few things about him, yet he is a main character within the film. We are suggested that he is slightly abusive and cheats but this is only a small part of his character. I wanted to understand more about their relationship and explain why her mind chose to have him help her through the film, if he was such a terrible character. I mean the film was named after him so a little more development is all I ask.
Overall, I would totally recommend this film. It is unlike any film I have really ever seen and you have no idea how difficult they are to find in this industry. It does have its flaws, like all films but there are way more positives.