For me growing up a Stephen King fan, and a even bigger movie fan, I was always bummed out when they made a King story into a film and it sucked. Or maybe that’s too harsh, but they cretainly felt less on par with the classics like “Carrie”, “Pet Semetary” or the soon to be classic “It”. It seems whenever there was a TV movie, or direct-to-video version of one of his novels or shorts, it was always a let down.
I figured the budget and/or the director’s vision wasn’t heavy enough to lift King’s type of stories. So adaptations of tales like “The Night Flyer” ended up as a poorly made film with maybe one genuine scare. Or a freaky story like ‘The Langoliers” was turned into drawn-out Twilight Zone episode with terrible special effects.
Now we have this new age equivalent to TV/Direct-to-video in the form of streaming. The latest being Netflix getting into the King adaptation game. “Gerald’s Game” that is.
Jessie (Carla Gugino) and her husband Gerald (Bruce Greenwood) are heading to their lake house for a relaxing getaway. Shortly after their arrival, Gerald pops a Viagra and whips out the handcuffs for a bout of role playing sex. It doesn’t take long for Jessie to lose her taste for the game and demand to be let out. As the couple argue, Gerald has a heart attack and falls off the bed leaving Jessie helplessly cuffed to the bed.
I don’t want to give much more info as it would lead to spoilers, but I will say this film shares some DNA with King’s other stories that have been made into films. Specifically “Cujo”, “Dolores Claiborne”, and “Misery”, however it doesn’t quite live up to those classics, though it certainly is way better than the early mentioned lamer adaptations. There is decent writing by Jeff Howard and co-writer/director Mike Flanagan, the performances by the two underrated leads are fantastic. There are some truly horrifying moments, the most terrifying one in particular which is literally of two characters just talking. And the climax had me groaning out loud, something my ‘seen-it-all’ mentality was not expecting.
This is truly one of the better made for Netflix films that they have turned out. It’s about a mid-level King adaptation with an ending I didn’t really care for, as much as I like where it ended, just not how if that makes any sense. Ether way it appears director Mike Flanagan who is also responsible for the Netflix film “Hush” which was also better than most of those kinds of thrillers is getting better with each of his efforts.