I recently saw and wrote a review about Stephen King’s latest book adaptation to the big screen; Doctor Sleep, directed by Mike Flannagan. Since I liked that movie so much, I immediately became very interested in the previous work of its director, seeing as he seems to have a knack for the Horror genre. I wasn’t wrong, as most of his body of work seems to be focused in that direction. This Netflix exclusive movie adapts another one of King’s novels, the 1992 book Gerald’s Game. The movie revolves around a married couple, Jessie and Gerald, who are having sexual problems, and decide to spend the weekend in their remote holiday retreat in the middle of the woods, to try and spice things up. Gerald comes up with the idea of playing a sexual game that involves cuffing both of Jessie’s hands to the bed and engage in a little role play. Jessie starts feeling uncomfortable with the situation right away, and asks Gerald to unlock the handcuffs; but before he can do it, he suffers a heart attack and drops dead. Now, completely isolated in the middle of the woods, handcuffed to a bed, and with a hungry stray dog roaming around, things are about to get really ugly.
Now, as simple as the story may seem at first; there’s actually more to it that you would think. Trapped in an impossible situation, Jessie’s mind starts playing tricks on her. She first sees her husband get up from the floor and begin speaking with her, after the hungry stray dog gets inside the house, and starts feeding on Gerald. But this is just Jessie’s mind messing with her. So is the appearance of her alter ego, telling her what she must do to survive her ordeal. Through this imagined conversations, we soon learn the origin of her sexual discomforts, and her marital problems as a consequence of that. She also has to contend with an apparently supernatural presence, that has got inside the house, and could attack her at any given moment. This is more than just your average Horror story. Thanks to a solid script adapted by Flannagan himself, along with Jeff Howard, Flannagan’s great use of the one set he has, a very compelling and convincing performance by Carla Gugino, and a very claustrophobic atmosphere, we get one of the most interesting Psychological Thrillers of 2017. In the end, Jessie’s fears and demons come to the fore, and she realises that these fears have set the tone for her life, ever since a paedophile incident she suffered when she was a teenager; that drove her into an unhappy, but economically comfortable marriage, and a repressed sexual life; and that it is up to her to break free from both her physical and imaginary shackles, if she ever is to live a happy life. It is in the supernatural element of the story, though, that we find the creepiest moments of the film. The figure of a being with unnaturally enlarged limbs, simply called “Moonlight Man”, and all of its appearances throughout the movie, are the stand-out scenes; and its final reveal is nothing short of shocking. Good movie, with a surprising twist. More than meets the eye.
Thanks for reading.