10/04/2017

Gerald's Game (review)

Title: Gerald's Game
Director: Mike Flanagan
Writers: Jeff Howard and Mike Flanagan, based on the novel of the same name by Stephen King
Cast: Carla Gugino, Bruce Greenwood, Henry Thomas, Carel Struyken, Kate Siegel, Chaira Aurelia
Min: 103
Year: 2017

Gerald (Bruce Greenwood) and his beautiful wife, Jessie (Carla Gugino), try to save their flattering marriage by spending time at a remote vacation home. He handcuffs her to the bed, and begins a sex with her. It quickly segues into a rape fantasy. She is, understandably, uncomfortable and turned off , by this. This leads them to having an argument. He, soon, suffers a heart-attack and dies. She kicks off of her, and he lays lifeless on the floor. Thing is now, she is cuffed to the bed, unable to break free.
Making matters worse, is a hungry, stray dog that has come in and lays on the floor, in the same bedroom. As her mind begins to fracture; haunting, deeply scarring, and horrific memories of her dad come to her. Which are further augmented by visions of a terrifying figure that comes and goes, in front of her.

Gerald's Game is a brilliant adaptation of the Stephen King novel of the same name. I read the book many years ago in high school, and it immediately became one of my favorite novels of all time. I long wondered if they would ever make into a film. I wanted to see it happen, but I often feared if it ever got made they would fuck it up. I am happy to say that co-writer/ director Mike Flanagan has more delivered the goods. In fact, this one of the finest King movies ever made!
The film, itself, takes a smart approach to adopting a book that is heavy on being inside a character's head, and while having little action is undeniably intense. The result ing movie is a faithful adaptation that is truly frightening and is filled with white knuckle intensity.

Flanagan keeps upping the intensity and makes it all truly terrifying, in what is the most intense King movie since Cujo. It also manages to be very unnerving and disturbing. The theme of rape and abuse is a terrifying and lies in the undercurrent and in full visibility. The horrors of child abuse, representated in what is perhaps the most disturbing and chilling aspect of the book, is bought to life in a truly haunting flashback.
There is some violence and gore but not a lot. Up and until, one moment that is. This scene was hard for even me, to watch, and I consider myself a very hardcore fan. It is perfectly setup and realistically and delivers the stomach churning goods. You will know what scene it is when you see it!

In a piece like this acting is extremely important. And, it delivers in spades. Bruce Greenwood is excellent as a husband whose creep and control factor bubbles to the surface. The supporting cast is also flawless. But, it is Carla Gugino who delivers on all cylinders. I have been a fan of hers forever. Many times, she had been in sexpot roles, but here she proves she more than just that. This is not just her best performance, that I recall, but one of the finest in modern horror, period.
Gerald's Game is a masterpiece. It is scary and incredibly and unmercifully intense. Smart and with one of the finest female characters in recent horror history,  she's portrayed by Gugino in way, that is deserving of much adulation, as well as awards. It is hard for me to tell you if it is better than the other great horror movie of the year (which also happens to be based on a King book), It. But, it may very well be. With movies like Oculus and Hush, Flanagan already made solid horror films. However, it is with Gerald's Game that he has truly joined the rack of the masters of horror. A Netflix exclusive, Gerald's Game just started streaming there this past weekend. Do not miss it, under any circumstance!


4 out of 4

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