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[Review] ‘Gerald’s Game’ Hits ‘Misery’ Levels of Cringe-worthy Tension

[Review] ‘Gerald’s Game’ Hits ‘Misery’ Levels of Cringe-worthy Tension

Out of the several Stephen King adaptations released this year, Netflix’s Gerald’s Game may feel the smallest. Directed by genre maven Mike Flanagan (Oculus, Ouija: Origin of Evil, Hush), the film begins when Jessie and Gerald Burlingame, played by Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood, respectively, head to a remote lake house in hopes of rekindling their relationship. Wasting no time, Gerald handcuffs Jessie to the bed posts and begins unleashing his wildest fantasy. Jessie becomes uncomfortable and asks Gerald to stop, causing the two to bicker back and forth about their troubled relationship. Mid-fight, Gerald has a heart attack and falls dead to the floor. Jessie is trapped, for the entirety of the film, on a bed with no food, no help, and a hungry dog chewing on the remains of her now dead husband.

Flanagan, a lifelong fan of King’s 1992 story, delivers unadulterated tension from the get-go and at no point lets the audience off the hook. If you thought the trailer was intense just wait until you have to experience this for a full hour and a half. Gerald’s Game is as cruel to Jessie as it is to the audience, punishing both through a series of hallucinations and flashbacks that are equally terrifying as they are heartbreaking. It’s also clear that Flanagan looked to King’s other works with Gerald’s Game, hitting Misery levels of cringe-worthy tension. The atmosphere, vibe, and pure energy in the room reach up and just barely touches Rob Reiner’s 1990 adaptation that I personally consider one of the best horror films ever made.

Flanagan never leaves the room, forcing the audience to experience Jessie’s pain with the only escape being her horrid memories, appearing like little flashes before her eyes. Just when you think being trapped on a bed was harsh enough, King’s story dives deep into Jessie’s past in which she was sexually abused by her father. Gerald’s Game takes on so many different levels of pain, offering a unique perspective on the abuse a woman goes through in her lifetime. Interestingly told from a male perspective, both King and Flanagan’s (Jeff Howard also has a writing credit), the film plays more as self-reflection than a cautionary tale. Can we be better to our significant other, or other loved ones in our lives? But I digress, Gerald’s Game is also meant to be empowering for women and offers a maybe too on-the-nose button to end the film.

While Flanagan has already proven himself to be one of the new masters of horror, Gerald’s Game shows that he’s more than a one-trick pony. He’s taken a nearly unadaptable story and turned it into an emotional, thought-provoking, intense, and even more so important powerhouse of thriller that will prove to be as timeless as Misery.

Gerald’s Game will be streaming on Netflix Friday, September 29, 2017.



  • Cheddar Hayes

    Everyone on board, the hype train is leaving the station!
    Was this as much of a game changer as Blair Witch Brad?


  • Fred

    Looks great! I really hope they put the Space Cowboy in the movie. I wonder who’s playing him? Javiet Botet? There is no listing on imdb for the character.

    • It’s the Giant/Fireman from Twin Peaks, Carel Struycken. Great casting IMHO

      • Fred

        Wow! It’s Lurch!! What a perfect casting. Now I am beyond excited!

  • DrewHamster

    I’m cautiously excited for this. I loved Oculus, but Hush never gripped me like it did everyone else. Also I really hope they don’t put too much focus on the mean dog in this film. Frozen really disappointed me with the random wolves that were super vicious for seemingly no reason. This does look pretty good though so I’m gonna have to check it out.

    • The chicken man

      Go into the woods and find some hungry wolves, let us know how cute and cuddly they are. 🙂

    • Saturn

      I’m the opposite – wasn’t a fan of Oculus, but LOVED Hush.
      Still to check out his Ouija movie – although I’ve heard pretty good stuff about it, so will have to sort that out soon.
      I’m hoping Gerald’s Game is one of the better King adaptations.

      • DrewHamster

        I have yet to check out his Ouija movie. I don’t think I have to see the first one to see his sequel, but I feel like I should and that’s what has been holding me back,

        • Saturn

          Well Flanagan’s Ouija is a prequel, so you really don’t have to bother with the first movie – which is garbage.

    • Bradley John Michael MacDonald

      Frozen was made by Adam Green not Mike Flanigan

      • DrewHamster

        I know.

  • Necro

    Great to hear the review that this got! I’ve been waiting for this film for 12 years now. On September 29th I HOPE to be giving this a standing ovation. It sounds as if Flanagan brought everything I expected him to bring to this film.

  • Aaron Johnson

    Never thought they could do it. This book has the distinction of being the first one to make me actually scream. And it’s also the one that made me give up yellow mustard for the rest of my life.

    • thiswillbeyou

      Can you explain the yellow mustard thing…lol…I have not read the novel in years, so your comment has me confused.

      • C-3PO’s

        There is a corpse-eater in the novel that liked tongue sandwiches smeared in the kind of yellow mustard kids like on their hotdogs.

  • James Allard
    • Jeff Eastwood

      Hopefully the method Jesse uses to get out of her dilemma is kept exactly the same as the book. I rarely get grossed out by anything Stephen writes but that section of the story was very difficult to read.

  • Kaid Smith

    Easy solution: “Hey, Siri.”

  • Chad Langen

    “through a serious of hallucinations and flashbacks”? Really??

    • celinda tyler

      Chad,dude,don’t be a naysayer man lol.Let it be.The woman is trapped handcuffed to a bed.Wtf do you want?PSYCHOLOGICAL …..can you dig it?

  • Vinnie Vincent’s Dead Dog

    Glad to see him redeem himself after the horrible Ouija film. Honestly, I know it got good reviews. But it’s a terrible film.

    • Christian

      How ironic this comment is.

    • James

      Ouija was actually good and better than Before I Wake. The man is a solid director.

    • SutterKane

      I wouldn’t call his “Ouija” sequel terrible. It’s a generic PG-13 Franchise film about a Ouija Board, but for what it’s worth, I can’t imagine anybody else could have made a much better one. He worked with what he had, and it’s passable.

      You want to see a truly terrible film, watch the first “Ouija”

    • Rob Rosado

      He didn’t need redeeming, unless you are speaking personally.

  • Ted C

    The stupid term “cringe-worthy” needs to die.

    • Saturn

      It truly is a term that is worthy of inducing cringe.

      • Braker

        That first sentence makes the entire review read like it’s negative. You might say it’s…cringe-worthy.

    • Papa_spoosh

      Lol what a weird thing to feel strongly about. Is that not a good way to describe the feeling?

  • marshally

    Sounds nightmarish, isolation bound by restraints and your own imagination. Hopefully the hairs on the back of my neck will stand at attention

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  • Noah Garcia

    Seven more days! The anticipation is killing me.

  • celinda tyler

    Okay then,lets do this….I’m ready!!!

  • twink

    This was my second favorite King novel. Ok maybe third… either way I can’t wait to see how this plays out Friday. Now if they would just make a screen version of Rose Madder!

    • James Garcia

      Rose Madder was my first and favorite Stephen King novel! I’ve been waiting for a screen adaptation since I was a teenager!

  • HeteroFriendly

    I remember a chick tried to talk me into letting her handcuff me to a bed one time.

    Her having a heart attack wasn’t the first thing that went through my mind,
    but nothing that did made it seem like a good idea.

    But thats probably becasue I’m totally into crazy chicks.

  • Evan3

    The only stephen King book I just could not finish. I was really disgusted by the sexual abuse stuff (and I think I was about 15 when I tried to read it).

  • Ash

    One of my favourite books of all time, been waiting at least 7 years for this to happen! It’s supposed to be released today but it still isn’t out yet, grrr… Literally checking every 5 minutes.

  • Faisel Jamil

    Flanagan can’t go wrong these days. Great adaptation of one of Stephen King’s most under-rated books, I just watched it on Netflix. A great suspense filled ride with excellent performance from Carla Gugino. This novel was considered un-adaptable by studios since years because of the nature of most of the story taking place in protagonist’s mind, Tough task which was executed by Mike Flanagan with perfection. Highly recommended.

  • Rob Rosado

    Brad- this is very high praise, but still only 4/5?

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