Gerald's Game (film)
|Directed by||Mike Flanagan|
|Produced by||Trevor Macy|
|Based on||Gerald's Game|
by Stephen King
|Music by||The Newton Brothers|
|Edited by||Mike Flanagan|
Gerald's Game is a 2017 American psychological horror thriller film directed and edited by Mike Flanagan, and screenplay written by Flanagan with Jeff Howard. It is based on Stephen King's 1992 novel of the same title, long thought to be unfilmable. The film stars Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood as a married couple who arrive at an isolated house for a holiday. When the husband dies of a sudden heart attack, his wife, left handcuffed to the bed without the key and with little hope of rescue, must find a way to survive, all while battling her inner demons.
Gerald's Game had its world premiere at BFI Southbank on September 19, 2017, and was released on September 29, 2017, by Netflix. It received very positive reviews from critics, who lauded Gugino's performance; Flanagan's direction, and the film's themes and their treatment, were also singled out.
Jessie and Gerald arrive at an isolated lake house in Fairhope, Alabama, for some time away. While Gerald takes Viagra, Jessie feeds a stray dog outside, but when re-entering the house leaves the door open. Jessie changes into a new slip, placing the tag on a shelf above the bed, and practices sexy poses. Gerald takes a second Viagra and leaves his glass of water on the same shelf. He restrains Jessie with one handcuff on each wrist locked to the bedposts; she seems a bit surprised by this, but goes along. He begins to enact a stranger rape fantasy, telling her to scream for help, knowing no one will hear. She half-heartedly plays along but soon becomes uncomfortable, telling him to stop and uncuff her; he replies, "What if I won't?" After a heated argument in which he accuses her of not even trying to rekindle their relationship, Gerald dies of a heart attack, falling onto the floor, leaving Jessie in handcuffs.
The dog enters and Jessie tries to scare it away, but it bites a chunk out of Gerald's arm and eats it. Gerald stands up and begins talking, but Jessie notices his body remains on the floor. He taunts Jessie about the truths of their strained marriage and his erectile dysfunctions. He then informs her that she has wasted hours already doing nothing, and she is beginning to suffer from dehydration and fatigue. Jessie miraculously pulls a hand out of a cuff and breaks free. She gloats to Gerald, but then turns around and tells herself, the one still trapped, that it is easy to escape. Gerald and the self-assured Jessie tell things about herself and Gerald that she never had the courage to acknowledge. They trigger her to remember the glass of water above the bed, which she is able to reach but cannot bring all the way to her mouth. The hallucinations remind her of the tag she put on the shelf, which she rolls into a straw in order to reach the water.
Jessie falls asleep, wakes up in the dark, and sees a tall, deformed, obscured figure who reveals a bag of various bones and trinkets. She closes her eyes saying, "You're not real." But Gerald appears to say that the figure is Death waiting to take her. Gerald begins to call Jessie "Mouse", which unsettles her. This triggers a memory of her father, Tom, who affectionately referred to her as "Mouse." She is 12 years old, vacationing at a lake house with her family. Young Jessie says, regarding the lake house, "It’s so much smaller than I remember…". Her father responds with "That’s ‘cuz you’re bigger." As Jessie and her father sit alone outside to watch a solar eclipse, he suggests she sit on his lap, as she did when she was younger. Once she is on his lap, he masturbates. The handcuffed Jessie awakes to intense pain due to her circulation being cut off and cramping. Gerald and the confident Jessie are skeptical about her claims that she dealt with the pressure of keeping such a secret, and her claims that it had nothing to do with her marriage, even though she married a man just like her father. Gerald teases Jessie about the disfigured man she saw, whom he calls "the man made of moonlight", and points out what he suspects is a bloody footprint on the floor. After the eclipse, her father tells her he was ashamed of what he did, and manipulates her into agreeing never to tell anyone.
Jessie remembers cutting her hand that night, when she squeezed a glass too hard when her mother asked her about the eclipse. The adult Jessie smashes the water glass and cuts her wrist in a way that enables her to peel back the skin, allowing her bloody hand to slip through the cuff. She drags the bed to the key, and unlocks her other hand. She drinks water and bandages herself, but then passes out on the floor from blood loss and fatigue. When she wakes, the "man made of moonlight" is at the end of the hall, and she gives him her wedding ring for his trinket bag. She makes it to her car and drives away, but sees the man again in the back seat. The car crashes into a tree, but people from a nearby house come out.
Six months later, Jessie is writing a letter to her 12-year-old self, struggling to write with her hand that needed skin grafts. Voice-overs and scenes describe how she had pretended to have amnesia over the whole ordeal of being trapped, avoiding painful questions. She used some of Gerald's life insurance to start a foundation for victims of sexual abuse. But each night the "man made of moonlight" still appears before her as she falls asleep. Her wedding ring was never found in the house, and she learned from the news that a man who has acromegaly, causing disfigurement of his head, is a serial killer who dug up crypts, stealing bones and jewels, and occasionally eating the faces of male corpses. This explains why he did not harm Jessie in the house and also why Gerald's face was disfigured. Jessie arrives at court as the moonlight man is being sentenced, and calls for his attention. He quotes what she said before leaving the house, indicating that he was in fact there at the time. Seeing also Gerald's and Tom's face where his face is, she says, "You're so much smaller than I remember", and walks triumphantly out into the street with the sunlight gleaming down on her.
- Carla Gugino as Jessie Burlingame, Gerald's wife
- Chiara Aurelia as Young Jessie
- Bruce Greenwood as Gerald Burlingame, Jessie's husband
- Carel Struycken as "Moonlight Man" / Raymond Andrew Joubert
- Henry Thomas as Tom Burlingame, Sally's husband and Jessie, Maddie and James' father
- Kate Siegel as Sally Burlingame, Tom's wife and Jessie, Maddie and James' mother
- Adalyn Jones as Maddie Burlingame
- Bryce Harper as James Burlingame
- Gwendolyn Mulamba as Judge
- James Flanagan as Court clerk
- Dori Lumpin as Teenage girl
- Charles Dube as Corrections officer
- Chuck Borden as Court officer
- Mike McGill as Court officer
- Natalie Roers as Reporter
- Nikia Reynolds as Reporter
- Bill Riales as Reporter
On May 19, 2014, Deadline Hollywood reported that Mike Flanagan had been set to direct a film adaptation of Stephen King's suspense thriller novel Gerald's Game, scripted by Jeff Howard. Trevor Macy produced the film through Intrepid Pictures.
Gerald's Game received widely positive reviews. On review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 91% based on 75 reviews, with an average rating of 7.58/10. The website's critics consensus states, "Carla Gugino carries Gerald's Game's small-scale suspense with a career-defining performance." At Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, the film has a score of 77 out of 100 based on 12 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews." Stephen King called the film "hypnotic, horrifying and terrific" after watching the rough cut.
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