LACE Reviews: Gerald’s Game

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Director: Mike Flanagan

Starring Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood

 

The Netflix adaptation of Stephen King’s, "Gerald’s Game" (2017) premiered on the service last week amidst much anticipation. The film is directed by Mike Flanagan and follows an aging couple: Jessie (Carla Gugino) and Gerald Burlingame (Bruce Greenwood) as they retreat to a remote lakeview cabin to revitalize their deteriorating relationship. After handcuffing Jessie to the bed to live a mischievous sexual fantasy, Gerald suffers a fatal heart attack, leaving Jessie trapped in the house with the front door wide open to the rabid dog and other unseen forces outside.

"Gerald’s Game" is one of the more recent Netflix original movies, and marks a shining addition to the resumé of horror-veteran, Mike Flanagan.

The clearest highlight of the film is its performances. Taking up the vast majority of the screen time, Carla Gugino gives us a career-defining performance as a woman, determined to survive despite the haunting hallucinations she suffers. Bruce Greenwood, a long-unappreciated actor, also shines in a subtle yet unnerving performance.

What makes Gerald’s Game stand out amongst other typical genre films is that it is not only a well-made psychological horror, but also a brilliant character study focused on Jessie’s character, one cursed by a disturbing childhood and its trauma, and utilizes spectacular visuals to highlight her persistent struggle.

Another highlight is the spectacular editing. Flanagan’s use of key visual highlights and cuts portray significant elements to Jessie’s past that add a deep level of personal struggle that would otherwise go unnoticed in simple exposition or physical acting.

Now the shock factor: is the film scary?

Yes.

Whether you are a fan of jump scares or a slow burn, "Gerald’s Game" fulfills your fervor for fright. The jump scares are well-planned and unhindered by obvious sudden, overburdening music or bad editing. In terms of the psychological factor and avoiding spoilers, there is an unexpected appearance of a certain character than will send chills down your spine.

One problem that stands in the film is the format of the conclusion. We are given a narrated piece that explains what happened. This sort of hand-holding somewhat diminishes the psychological impact of the film on viewers as it simply explains away what many see as deliciously impossible.

Consensus

Gerald’s Game takes one of Stephen King’s lesser known novels to create a brilliantly made study of trauma and consequence encased in a horror-thriller background, supported by strong performances all around and good editing, despite a relatively short runtime and a rushed epilogue

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Ryan Parker