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[Review] – ‘Gerald’s Game’

 
 
Overview
 

Release Date: 29 September 2017 [Internet]
 
Director: Mike Flanagan
 
Writer: Stephen King [Novel] - Mike Flanagan - Jeff Howard [Screenplay]
 
Cast: Carla Gugino - Bruce Greenwood - Henry Thomas
 
Direction
 
 
 
 
 


 
Writing
 
 
 
 
 


 
Performance
 
 
 
 
 


 
Sound & Music
 
 
 
 
 


 
Cinematography
 
 
 
 
 


 
Editing
 
 
 
 
 


 
Visual Effects
 
 
 
 
 


 
Total Score
 
 
 
 
 
4/5


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Posted October 8, 2017 by

 
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Review:

It’s been the year for Stephen King adaptations. We’ve had The Dark Tower and IT adapted for the big screen and Miss Mercedes and Gerald’s Game adapted for the small screen. The Dark Tower may not have been a great success, but IT, Miss Mercedes and Gerald’s Game have been getting rave reviews.

Of these, the book I least expected to get a decent adaptation was Gerald’s Game. I read the 1992 novel only a few years ago and, though, at first, I found it a bit dull, in true King style, there were some humdingers thrown in to keep me turning the pages.

Having said that, I had no clue how the book could be adapted. The story has a solitary protagonist, Jessie (Carla Gugino), who is tied to a bed for the duration of the novel while her husband, Gerald (Bruce Greenwood), lies dead on the floor by the bed. Jessie is trapped, with no chance of getting help due to the seclusion of the house she and her husband are staying at for the weekend. With no access to food, water or outside communication, death is quite literally closing in on her.

As a Stephen King fan, I am always apprehensive and excited by the prospect of one of his works being adapted for the screen. We’ve seen some good ones, especially this year, but also some shockers. The Dark Tower didn’t do King’s series justice but, as I said, IT has taken the box office by storm. What could I expect from Gerald’s Game?

Gerald’s Game wouldn’t ever have featured on my list of Stephen King books that deserved an adaptation. It is a fairly divisive work; some people love it and others hate it. I remember thinking it was quite cringe-worthy while I read it, until it wasn’t, of course.

My thought when I heard about the Netflix film was that seeing the events of the book acted out by real people would make me cringe so much I wouldn’t be able to watch it. This, fortunately, did not happen. In fact, I would go so far as to say that Gerald’s Game is one of the best Stephen King adaptations yet. Hear me out!

First up, Gerald’s Game isn’t a horror novel; there are no vampires, monsters, voodoo or creatures of the dark trying to kill our protagonist. The book is much more in the vein of King’s suspense novels, such as Misery and Dolores Claiborne (to which the book and film both allude).

However, there are horror elements that King explicitly uses to increase the tension. The film manages to visualise these horror elements using jump scares very effectively. You aren’t going to scream in fear but it will get your heart racing. I like that writer-director Mike Flanagan uses subtlety instead of over-the-top scares.

Talking about Flanagan, I am very impressed by how he has adapted the novel for screen. He stayed true to the source material, even the ending which he knew would divide many. It couldn’t have been easy, especially as most of the conversation and ‘action’ takes place inside Jessie’s mind. But Flanagan manages to find a very simple, classic way to ‘show’ Jessie’s internal dialogue while she’s trapped on the bed.

Flanagan is ably assisted by lead actor Carla Gugino. Gugino has been nothing short of prolific in the last decade. She’s appeared in Watchmen, Sucker Punch and Sin City on the big screen. Her TV work includes Californication, the short-lived Political Animals, New Girl, among many others. She is always somewhere around, playing everything from a superhero to a suburban housewife. If anybody could carry this film single-handed, it would be Gugino.

What is most impressive about Gugino’s performance is that not only does she play a woman who is slowly dying while cuffed to a bed, but one who is faced with her life’s decisions and how they’ve been affected by incidents from her past. The flashbacks to Jessie’s childhood add so much to the story and are beautifully and painfully rendered in this film.

Also, in his short role, Bruce Greenwood does a pretty good job of playing the smarmy husband who brings Jessie face to face with some difficult home truths. Greenwood is another actor who keeps popping up in places and I was initially unsure if he could carry out this role but his Gerald makes you squirm, which is the point. Good job.

I really liked the ending. I was in two minds about it when I read the book but it surprisingly works in the film. Without giving anything away, I can say that the ending doesn’t feel as much a cop-out as people think it is. Have a watch and let us know what you think in the comments section.

Despite my apprehension about this film, I was pleasantly surprised by how well-made it was. The performances are top-notch, the editing adds to the suspense, the pacing is just right. Not once did I feel bored, in fact, I couldn’t peel my eyes away from the screen. Gerald’s Game does right by Stephen King and, as a fan, I couldn’t be happier.

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Louis Skye
@LouisSkye77
bloggingatwarp10.blogspot.com
Freelance Contributor

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One Comment


  1.  

    Nice review I was also pleasantly surprised by this adaptation…although I haven’t read the book. I loved the weird ending also, it gave me goosebumps!





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