Book to Box Office: Gerald’s Game
Based On: Gerald’s Game by Stephen King
Expected Release Date: Netflix TBA 2017
Director: Mike Flanagan
Summary: When Jessie’s husband, Gerald, dies in the midst of their sex games, she’s left handcuffed to a bed in a cabin in the woods where she must struggle to survive while confronting the horrors of her past and a stranger who comes by moonlight.
Working For It: By now you’ve heard us praise Mike Flanagan time and time again. He’s displayed his ability to handle interesting and character driven stories with narrative twists and neat visual tricks across his filmography, and as a huge Stephen King fan there’s no doubt that he’ll do Gerald’s Game justice. Those who have watched Flanagan’s 2016 film Hush on Netflix know that he can easily handle the “what if?” demands of Jessie’s survival in a way that makes the interior monologue driven novel cinematic in execution. Also, the small cast of talented thespians, including Bruce Greenwood, Henry Thomas, Kate Siegel, and Carla Gugino as Jessie promises that we’re in store for some deep character development and uncomfortable psychological examinations. Gerald’s Game is a complex feminist story that explores the roles of women, their sexuality, and the physical and psychological chains men place on them, in a way that we rarely see in horror to this degree. Flanagan and the cast here have an opportunity to deliver a relevant and much needed story that’s just as pertinent now as it was in 1992.
Working Against It: There’s very little that could be attributed to working against the film. The novel is one of King’s most psychologically complex, and it deals with the difficult ramifications of sexual assault in an astute and carefully paced manner that creates a fulfilling journey that tackles a horror outside of the realm of the supernatural, though the result is no less frightening. This will undoubtedly be the most difficult subject matter Flanagan has dealt with, and the handling of it will be ripe for discussion, and possible controversy. Still, there’s little doubt that it will be handled well, and the difficulty of the subject matter will make the film all the more worthwhile.
Wild Card: In the novel, Jessie has mental conversations with the various aspects of her personality, represented by the voices of people in her past including her college roommate, her ex-psychologist, and a Puritanical version of herself nicknamed The Goodwife. It’s the kind of angle that works really well in novels, but is difficult to imagine it working in a film without halting the film’s momentum or creating narrative confusion. But the prospect of seeing that angle worked out in the film, and watching Gugino explore those different facets is exciting, and could go a long way in terms of destroying the notion that narration is a cinematic crutch.
Verdict: Gerald’s Game has all the makings of being one of the year’s best horror films, and a standout in this year of highly-anticipated Stephen King adaptations!
Featured Image: Viking Press