REVIEW- Gerald’s Game: On visual manifestations, toxic masculinity and the drive to survive

This year has certainly seen a rise in Stephen King adaptations hitting the screen. With the release of The Mist, The Dark Tower and the spine chilling new-classic IT, it’s no surprise that Netflix have jumped ahead, working with director Mike Flanagan (known for Oculus, Hush) to create something truly twisted.

One woman’s horrific battle between the sudden reality of death and her own warped yet resourceful mind empower the simplistic, sadistic story of Gerald’s Game. The film follows a married couple indulging in a raunchy, romantic weekend away. The setting is of course secluded. A typically beautiful lakeside house, with no sign of human contact for miles.  In a bid to salvage their dysfunctional relationship, Jessie (Carla Gugino) agrees to her husband Gerald’s (Bruce Greenwood) request for a bit of role play and some fun with handcuffs. Obviously, things do not go to plan, with Gerald quick to turn on the aggression after popping a Viagra, prompting the heart attack that ends his life. Jessie, now handcuffed and trapped, knows she must escape. She must survive. Accompanied only by her husband’s bloody corpse, a stray dog and her mental demons, what follows is the story of Jessie’s insane strive for survival. Engaging in twisted arguments with herself, her visual manifestations of her own subconscious, bursts of Jessie’s emotion and self-rapport drive the narrative, keeping you captivated.

Offering up an intense, emotional experience full of unpredictability, Gugino showcases the multitudes of the down but not yet defeated female mind. Her calm yet somehow neurotic aura presented throughout the film is what really makes it. The true horror of this King classic isn’t centred on gore or violence but rather the harassing visions and memories of a damaged woman. However, the overall message the film attempts to scream becomes slightly lost along the way. The final stiff moments of Gerald’s Game lose sight of the moral (a woman rejecting and fighting the restraints of toxic masculinity).

Improving on his showcased style, revealed in his previous attempts at horror, Flanagan is clearly making strides as a director. Although it is disappointing, and boring, to see yet another female-led film being produced by men.

Personally, I enjoyed this adaptation way more than Andy Muschietti’s IT remake as it felt closer to King’s style; his specific approach to horror. Fans of the genre, and of King in general will absolutely adore Gerald’s Game. It captures tension whilst building fluid suspense with so much ease. This Netflix Original is definitely worth the watch.

by Kelsie Dickinson

Kelsie Dickinson is a 21 year old super-gay film student at UCLAN in Preston. She writes part-time for her uni’s paper The Pulse and is a lover of any indie horrors and films with nice lighting. Her favourite films are Lost in Translation, the original Evil Dead and It Follows. You can follow her on twitter @punkrocket_ and under the same user on instagram.

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