Written By: FZ
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: Mike Flanagan
Writers: Mike Flanagan, Jeff Howard
Producer: Trevor Marcy
Date Released: September 29, 2017
Carla Gugino as Jessie Burlingame
Chiara Aurelia as Young Jessie
Bruce Greenwood as Gerald Burlingame
Carel Struycken as “Moonlight Man”
Henry Thomas as Tom Burlingame
Kate Siegel as Sally Burlingame
Rating = 4/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
Gerald’s Game (2017) is a story of a couple who has lost some of the old sparks in their relationship. The couple decided to retreat to their remote lake house to try to spice up their marriage and eventually save it. They tried to get a little bit creative by handcuffing the wife to the bed frame. Then the unexpected happened, the husband died even before the process begins. It is in this premise that the whole movie rested on: confronting her long-buried demons in her own mind.
There is not a lot of gore, but the atmosphere created a desperate intensity. There is a scene where a woman cuts her hand on broken glass and pulls it out of the handcuff. The handcuff graphically tears the skin of her hand and you see the muscle fiber being shredded. It’s very gory and gross and not for the faint of heart. The entire movie is very intense, especially the ending where Jessie tries to free herself.
The Grave Review
Gerald’s Game (2017) is an adaptation of one of Stephen King’s stories. It is very much a part of King’s universe without arbitrarily throwing in “Where’s Waldo?”. The protagonist being held captive to a bed reminds of “Misery”; the flashbacks to Jessie’s childhood involve a solar eclipse, also a pivotal event in “Dolores Claiborne”; and Gerald even calls the mangy stray dog “Cujo.” As expected, the story has a lot of twists and turns and can be a little slow, in the beginning, to help build the characters’ backstory. But as the story gets developed, the intensity of the situation also kicked up a notch.
The main character has been subjected to a very stressful environment, coupled with the fact a stray dog has started to eat her husband which caused her to have a mental breakdown of sorts and she starts to hallucinate, discovering repressed childhood memories.
In the beginning, the hallucination seemed darn silly and awkward to watch. However, it was the hallucinations themselves which saved the film. It led to some disturbing framed flashback sequences to show sexual abuse she had suffered at the hands of the father as a girl during a solar eclipse. There is a lot of symbolism in the movie and is well utilized like the eclipse and the moonlight visits.
The scenario of being trapped presents an opportunity to explore their past to find the means to survive the present. It is a good way to show a character’s internal thought process and its manifestations. It depicts having an essentially ‘evil’ version of herself while Gerald made things a bit too comedic at times. The usual danger of having a ‘trapped person’ film is that there needs to be a steady flow of events happening to keep things interesting. Then there’s the presence of the stray dog which is constant throughout the film and was always there to be a threat, with it implied once it has gotten bored of eating the husband it will turn on her.
The acting is really a main factor for making this film very watchable. The acting is all high standard, Gugino had a lot of screen time to herself but fills it believably, Greenwood never really gets a chance to play a realistic character as most his time is spent as a hallucination, but he was also good.
Aside from acting, the dialogue is outstanding. This fills the gap for the complete absence of musical score. So, the script must be authentic and well written to sustain the viewer’s interest with almost only two characters speaking throughout the hour and half time frame.
The epilogue that follows everything Jessie goes through gracelessly spells a lot out for the audience when it is perfectly acceptable for the audience to draw their own conclusion, but it is the one quibble in an otherwise gripping and cathartic tale. In what surely was a tough task to transition from page to screen, “Gerald’s Game” is elegantly simple but emotionally complex and riveting.
Because of the above reasons, Grave Reviews gives Gerald’s Game (2017) four graves out of five graves.
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