Two Stephen King adaptations in one month! Gerald’s Game is the second King novel adapted for the screen following IT Chapter 1’s successful release. Gerald’s Game wasn’t adapted for the big screen, Netflix bought the rights to release smaller novel’s movie counterpart.
Jessie (Carla Gugino) and her husband Gerald (Bruce Greenwood) decide their marriage could use some attention. The couple leave the city behind to spend some time together at their remote cabin. Getting to the cabin seasonably early its well established that the two are utterly alone. Gerald has the idea to tie his wife up for sex and takes the ‘game’ a step further by having her lean into his rape fantasy. During a heated argument Gerald suffers a heart attack and dies. Left cuffed to a bed Jessie battles fear, inner demons, fears, dehydration, hunger, and possibly something a little more other-worldly.
Selling a movie or show in a bottle is always tougher. Doing it with one character is even harder. Carla Gugino is a powerful actress who commands the screen in group shots. Having the strength in her acting to be ninety-percent of the movie is crucial. Gugino sells the fear, the pain, and does it all while wearing a slip lying in a bed.
Bruce Greenwood is also an actor with great screen presence. He’s actually something of a villain-lite in the movie adaptation which isn’t entirely fair to the character but it does help get the ultimate arc of Jessie across. With limited screen time Greenwood leaves an impression that is very important as the story develops.
Dealing with a story that was largely inner monologue on screen is another challenge Writer (adapter)/Director Mike Flanagan had to overcome. The way it’s handled is brilliant. Jessie has angel and devil on her shoulder type encounters with her inner self being the strong and supportive side and her deceased husband eerily striking fear into her mind. This gives characters for Jessie to bounce things off of even if Gugino was still acting against nothing during much of the filming.
What Gerald’s Game and IT have in common is the same factor that made Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile so good and Under the Dome and The Dark Tower lacking. These latest adaptations really stay true to the heart of the source. Adaptations in Hollywood have been around since the beginning of Hollywood. What studios tend to do is fast track the projects to hit while the name is hot or lean on name recognition only and destroy what existing fans like about the property. Rarely has changing the tone and feeling of the source successful. The Shining is about the best example for the write up since it’s a great movie and a great novel but totally different in tone and message. It also happens to be another one of King’s creations.
Gerald’s Game is a faithful adaptation of an eerie and gripping King novel. The horror on the surface tells a deeper story of growth and personal redemption. The movie boasts just enough tension and gore to grip you while guiding you through the protagonists journey.