Gerald's Game (2017)
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Critic Reviews for Gerald's Game
Unsurprisingly, the film is [Mike Flanagan's] most accomplished to date, the result of the years he's spent giving a damn about his characters and their anguish. He's so good at it, he even makes it look easy.
When it works, it's because of Gugino, the rare performer who can suggest victimized despair and empowered triumph.
In bursts, between the memories and the ghostly Who's Afraid of Stephen King? playlets, Flanagan shows that he probably could have made a leaner, meaner, more suspenseful film.
Carla Gugino gives a tour-de-force performance in an arresting psychological thriller based on Stephen King's 1992 novel.
Audience Reviews for Gerald's Game
Quite honestly, it's very rare that a film unsettles me, so this is big of me to say, but I actually had to turn my head throughout my viewing of this film. Now streaming on Netflix, Gerald's Game is the latest Stephen King novel to receive a feature film adaptation, and while I probably won't find myself ever revisiting this movie, it's worth a watch if you can stomach it. Movies like the Saw sequels that have mindless and senseless gore will audience members in laugher, but when a film really brings you into its atmosphere and makes you care about what's happening, the gore can feel very realistic, which is why I caution my recommendation of this movie as a whole. Here is why Gerald's Game is impressively hard to watch. Although it may seem impossible to spoil a movie like this, the over-arching story is actually a spoiler itself. To put it simply, Gerald's Game is about a wife and her husband as they travel to a lake house in order to juice up their marriage. After handcuffing his wife to the bed in hopes of pleasuring her, a series of events lead to her being trapped on the bed, alone. Exploring her tragic backstory, while simultaneously showing her struggles throughout her current situation, there's absolutely nothing pleasant about this viewing experience. This is actually quite an impressive piece of storytelling. While this dark and twisted story will leave many probably not wishing to finish the movie, there's no denying that director Mike Flanagan has crafted another tense film. Helming solid horror flicks like Hush and Ouija: Origin of Evil, I knew that this film was in good hands, even though I truthfully didn't know much about it when going in. Flanagan does a wonderful job in sucking you into this premise, and I believe this easily could've been a very boring idea, even though my experience of this overall film did drag a bit. Although that should be a minor complaint, this aspect is precisely what will keep me from watching it a second time. I'm all for a movie taking its time to tell a worthwhile story, but I found myself bored quite often throughout the majority of the film. By the time the third act had hit, I was still very intrigued with what was going to happen next, but I wasn't as invested. Yes, the conclusion is satisfying, but even for a mere 100 minute runtime, I think it could've been shaved to about 80. From it's near silent score, to great direction, everything about this movie is atmospheric and well-done, but I wasn't sucked into this premise like I wanted to be. In the end, this is a hard movie to recommend, because even though the premise itself is interesting, it's very slow and it has some pretty brutal imagery that I even have issues with, and that never happens to me. Gerald's Game is a nice little thriller that's meant to unnerve its audience, and while it does just that, it's also a tedious experience in my opinion. There isn't much I can say without ruining the movie, but I'll warn you by stating that my description of it is unsettling at times won't even begin to cover it for some people. Overall, this is a well-made film with a solid ending, but I just wasn't invested enough to ever feel the need to watch it again. It's worthy of the praise that it's receiving, but it just wasn't for me.
Stephen King is undoubtedly one of the best fiction writers of all time, and is personally my favorite author. Most of his novels are horror based, and will often involve the supernatural to some degree. In Gerald's Game, King approaches the horror genre in a very unconventional way, almost completely disregarding the thought of ghosts or demons. It follows Gerald and Jessie, a couple who's marriage is seemingly failing. The characters are played by Bruce Greenwood and Carla Gugino, respectively. I've seen the work of these actors before, but none of their performances ever held a spot on my radar. That is, until now; both performances, especially Carla Gugino's are dynamic, seeing as they both play the real and imaginary versions of themselves. The couple trek into the woods to an isolated summer house for a weekend in an attempt to reinvigorate their marriage. It's difficult to go into the plot without giving much away, but Jessie ends up trapped in this house, completely isolated from the rest of society. I can only imagine how difficult it is to keep things exciting while being confined to one single room, but director Mike Flanagan adapts the novel to the screen with finesse. Carla Gugino's performance also adds to the panic and anxiety tenfold, delivering on an emotional and physical level. The film gets particularly interesting when a tall, deformed, and mute being dubbed "The Moonlight Man" appears to Jessie at night. This leads into one of the most satisfying twists I've seen in a film in quite some time. It's also worth noting that there is one particular scene that will turn over a lot of stomachs; I wouldn't be surprised if many people turn it off completely. All in all, Gerald's Game is one of the better Stephen King film adaptations, and is undoubtedly one of Netflix's best films.
Mike Flanagan directs two worthy star efforts here, and both from highly expected places though often little utilized. Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood are two actors who've often kept plugging away but are usually behind the main action, and so are unfairly unnoticed for it. In this effort though, another Stephen King novel, both are allowed some room to run and both do, like Olympians set free, giving substance and thrills to this macabre little tale of survival. This here is a real meal, unlike the bigger production Dark Tower from this year as well.
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