The horror film market is huge. Hundreds, if not thousands, of horror films are made every year, with only few standing out of the blood-drenched crowd. Netflix, with a penchant for outstanding horrors and thrillers, decided to hop on the horror flick train, bringing about an adaptation of Stephen King’s terrifying novel ‘Gerald’s Game’.
The film follows Jessie (Carla Gugino) and her husband, Gerald (Bruce Greenwood), as they head to a remote lake house in order to spice up their marriage. One thing leads to another, and then Gerald has a heart attack and dies, leaving Jessie handcuffed to the bed with the keys out of reach. She must then fight to survive, whilst having a few disturbing flashbacks and encounters along the way.
This movie is really disturbing. Like, really, really disturbing. It’s not particularly scary, there’s the odd jump-scare or three, but its the imagery and the situation that really get your heart going.
Carla Gugino as the shackled wife is a stand-out in this film. She basically carries it, only with a few interruptions from inside her head, and this makes for very entertaining viewing. She’s amusing, in a way that you didn’t think anyone could be whilst fighting dehydration, a hungry dog at the end of her bed and death himself. In all honesty, it’s not a very fun game.
Her husband, however, is brilliant at being horrible. Greenwood really amps up the bad husband vibes in the 20 minutes he is alive, which then are exacerbated in Jessie’s head after he has died. He’s manipulative, seedy and slimy: something that Jessie realises at the end of the film.
It could be argued that this film isn’t really a horror film in the typical sense. It’s more a horror film about what has happened to Jessie, the main character, and how she comes to terms with her past and survives. She calls on past experiences to escape her confines on the bed, and her horrible history.
That’s not to say that it doesn’t have stereotypical horror movie attributes. The Moonlight Man is their contribution to the supernatural – or more the ‘is he actually there or am I insane?’ kind of gimmick that sometimes comes with this genre. The Moonlight Man is a shadowy figure, lurking in the shadows with his box of trinkets and bones. He’s absolutely terrifying.
He’s also real. In the film and book, he’s a necrophiliac who’s waiting for Jessie to die so he can add her wedding ring and one of her bones to his box. The Moonlight Man is the kind of horror movie villain that you have nightmares about. Which is why he is one of the highlights of Gerald’s Game.
The film isn’t exactly the most complex plot in the world. It plays a bit too much on the stereotypes in some cases and the ending, in true horror film fashion, is too happy, is too well put together after such a traumatic experience. It all ends a bit too neatly after such a messy first three-quarters.
Even though this isn’t the best horror film ever, it certainly is not the worst. It has it’s flaws, but the acting and the scriptwriting make up for the few it has. In an era of horror trying too hard, this film is simple and refreshing, bringing a new feeling to the horror industry as a whole.
So, the moral of the story is: don’t handcuff yourself to the bed because your husband will die on top of you and then a stray dog will eat him and a necrophiliac will come into your house at night. Quite an easy thing to remember, right?