Not having read the book, I didn't know what Gerald's Game was about the story of a woman, Jessie, whose husband Gerald suddenly dies of a heart attack as they were about to have kinky sex, leaving her handcuffed to the bed. Alone. In a house in a remote cabin in the woods.
I'm sure I have a copy of the Stephen King novel lying around somewhere, but I probably didn't find the premise intriguing enough to put it on top of my reading list.
I read that director Mike Flanagan carried the book with him all the time for years, hoping to convince someone to turn it into a movie. Everyone thought Gerald's Game was either unfilmable or "not a movie." Years later, Netflix happened.
It's one of the movies that I thought I could watch without paying complete attention (some horror films are like that, at least to me, and too many Stephen King film adaptations are like that), but upon seeing the ending, I regret that I missed some details. I missed out on how creepy the Moonlight Man was, and I missed the symmetry in the script.
Gerald's Game has a "locked room" set up and basically has only three actors plus a dog. A younger horror fan me might have been a little bored by it because it doesn't have a lot of action (no jump scares!), but older me shares a little bit in Jessie's psychological torment, tied to the bed as much as she is tied to a past trauma that had her repeating patterns -- a horror more real to me these days.
Attempting to escape the handcuffs becomes a deeper emotional journey for Jessie (Gerald's Game been called a feminist movie), and the dialogue (an internal monologue actually, but Flanagan has Jessie talking to her imaginary self and an imaginary Gerald) shows beautifully how she talks herself out of giving up, subverting her trauma and its consequences in her bid to survive.
And because this is a Stephen King story, the moment Jessie is about to win is also the moment that has sent some viewers -- not me -- passing out or throwing up.
It's not a perfect film -- I found some parts of it corny -- but it's one of the better film adaptations of a Stephen King work and any fan of his should not miss it. Plus, the acting's great -- Carla Gugino as Jessie is almost mesmerizing. My only complaint is that the part with the Moonlight Man could have been done better.
They should also have told us what happened to the dog. Kidding.
Because I didn't pay complete attention the first time, I watched parts of it again. Upon second viewing, Gerald's Game reminded me of one of my favorite Stephen King novels, the lesser known (and, in my humble opinion, one of the best written) Lisey's Story.
I read that Flanagan also wants a shot at turning Lisey's Story into a movie. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.