Review: Gerald's Game
Premiering on Netflix, Gerald's Game was directed by Mike Flanagan (known for his other works such as Ouija: Origin of Evil and Hush). It's a psychological horror and thriller based on the 1992 Stephen King novel of the same name. The films stars Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood as a married couple on the rocks. Determined to make their marriage work, they go on a couple's retreat in the hopes of spicing up their sex life. What comes as a result is a game gone wrong that changes Jesse's life forever.
Gerald's game is not so much a game as it is a test. It is a test of the human psyche and the will to survive. Jesse Burlingame quickly finds this out as she is hopelessly trapped handcuffed to a bedpost. Days pass and hallucinations of her dead husband and her "freed" self talk to her. Her husband taunts her about their failed marriage while her other self gives her words of encouragement and support. It is reminiscent of a shoulder angel and shoulder devil which moves the plot along and keeps things suspenseful and compelling.
Jesse's character is thoroughly fleshed out through dream sequences of her past. As disturbing as it is to watch, Jesse's past abuse by her father is key in understanding her character. Due to the pressure of keeping such a secret, she married a man just like her father. Her father manipulated her younger self into not telling anyone about the abuse and therefore cast a veil over her eyes for years to come. One might say, even up to the point of her marriage. All of the warnings signs of what a dangerous man her husband really was—were blissfully ignored.
The "Moonlight Man" (played by Carel Struycken) is a tall, deformed man who watches from the shadows during the events of the film. At first, Jesse doesn't think the figure is real. Then, she realizes (with the help of the taunts of her dead husband) that it must be Death waiting to take her when the sun goes down. Gerald's Game blends the supernatural with reality—so much so that the line becomes blurred.
Gerald's Game play on realism in a way that is truly terrifying. However, the film's thematic element of strength shines through. Jessie's husband constantly berates her into despair but her inner self pushes her to keep going. While some prefer their films to be clear and not obscure, anyone looking for a more thoughtful and psychological horror should definitely give this a chance.
Gerald's Game is out exclusively on Netflix.