Gerald’s Game (2017) Review

Time: 103 Minutes
Carla Gugino as Jessie Burlingame
Bruce Greenwood as Gerald Burlingame
Chiara Aurelia as Young Jessie
Carel Struycken as “Moonlight Man”/Raymond Andrew Joubert
Henry Thomas as Tom
Kate Siegel as Sally
Director: Mike Flanagan

When a harmless game between a married couple in a remote retreat suddenly becomes a harrowing fight for survival, wife Jessie (Carla Gugino) must confront long-buried demons within her own mind – and possibly lurking in the shadows of her seemingly empty house.

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I had been hearing things about Netflix’s Gerald’s Game for a while. Mike Flanagan has been directing a lot of solid horror films with Oculus, Hush and Ouija: Origin of Evil, so naturally his involvement with the film immediately that had my interest. Add on top of that Carla Gugino, Bruce Greenwood and the fact that they are adapting a Stephen King book (that I’ve admittedly never read) and you’ve got some great stuff. And indeed, Gerald’s Game is a really effective movie, one that’s simple yet very effective.

It’s an adaptation of a story by Stephen King and once again I haven’t read it, but I heard that it’s not one of King’s finest work. That didn’t seem to stop Flanagan, however, how seemed to be able to make it one of the better Stephen King live action adaptations. On the whole, Gerald’s Game isn’t really scary to me, save for a few moments. It is more of a psychological thriller (for the most part at least) and is very captivating from start to finish. It’s pretty much focussed on our main character trying to escape, while going through some hallucinations (won’t go into detail about them because I didn’t know much and was surprised by some things). On the whole, it had my attention and was really effective. There are some faults with Gerald’s Game however. There is quite a lot of exposition in the movie, and there are lots of flashbacks showing the backstory of Gugino’s character which is necessary to the story and it ties into the present storyline but it does drag a little in terms of pacing. Then there’s the ending which I do have mixed feelings about, it’s not just too long, without spoiling anything it feels a little forced and doesn’t work with the rest of the movie at all. The movie is an hour and 43 minutes long and outside of the flashback and exposition scenes which does bring the pacing down, it works. However a shorter run time probably would’ve made it work much better.

A performance that didn’t and still doesn’t get enough praise is Carla Gugino here, who is great here. Much of Gerald’s Game is basically based around her being handcuffed to a bed and is relying on her to carry the movie and she absolutely delivers. Honestly she is one of the best parts of the movie, her character has to go through a lot. Bruce Greenwood was also good and deserves some praise as well as the husband of Gugino’s character of Jessie. So often Greenwood has been in very supporting roles (being quite a character actor), and while he is that again here, here he gets some chances to shine. Most of the movie is just focussed on these two, but other performances by a few people like Henry Thomas, Kate Siegel are decent enough as well.

Mike Flanagan knows how to direct horrors and thrillers well and he does it once again with Gerald’s Game. There are also some great used of shadows, lighting and colour at certain points. There is one scene in the third act which is particularly intense and without delving too deep into it, it’s very hard to watch. There is no music played throughout the entire movie and it really benefited from it.

Gerald’s Game is a pretty good movie, it’s an effective thriller with an excellent lead performance from Carla Gugino and Mike Flanagan’s great direction. It is however brought down a little by the overuse of exposition, a little too many flashbacks and the ending which doesn’t quite work. With all that said, it may end up being one of the better movies based on a Stephen King novel. If you like horror thrillers, Gerald’s Game might be what you want, give it a watch if you have Netflix.

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