GERALD’S GAME. Based on the novel by Stephen King. Directed by Mark Flanagan with Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood. Netflix.
KAREN RUTTER reviews
Stephen King novels have had a bad rap generally when translated onto the big screen. But. Taken the evolution from the aforesaid big screen to the ultimately bigger picture presented by series – and its spin-off in terms of alternative distribution and viewing options – and you get SK Rebooted.
It’s worked well with seasons of Under the Dome and 11.22.63, to name some, and it certainly kicks in with Gerald’s Game, a full-length movie released by Netflix – and punted for this Friday the 13th 2018.
Part of the problem with earlier Stephen King adaptations from page to presentation has been the need to make his visions of horror, visually literal. But can one’s personal imagining of a clown in a sewer, a murdersome Plymouth Fury motor car, an oily slick on a doomed lake, ever be bettered by what a studio can create? Nah. Not really.
It’s when the lense turns to a more human focus, stepping away from the weird shit, that Stephen King translations work better. It happened already in a pre-Netflix world with Stand By Me. And it sits quite well with Gerald’s Game, a film which is ultimately about acknowledging and tackling the hard things in life – a theme in Stand By Me, and also ratcheted up to a feminist level with Dolores Claiborne and Rose Madder.
In Gerald’s Game the ultimate sex-fantasy-thing goes really bad, quite quickly. Jessie (Carla Gugino) and her older husband Gerald (Bruce Greenwood) go to their lakeside cabin for a hopeful weekend of make-up-sex. He takes Viagra, suggests a bit of bondage and has a heart attack. Whilst she is chained to the bed.
In true SK fashion, there’s also a hungry dog and a bat shit serial killer in the mix. The tension builds – but there’s also serious backstory too. In the end, without any spoiler alerts, it’s all about dealing with that afore-mentioned hard stuff.
Anyhoo – a well adapted movie version of a book that gave me the heebies when I first read it, and is sufficiently shocking with its cinematic airing.
What: Gerald’s Game