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John’s Horror Corner: Gerald’s Game (2017), Mike Flanagan and Stephen King join forces for this psychological thriller.

October 1, 2017

MY CALL:  Interesting and inventive, but more a “should see” than a “must see” for fans of King and Flanagan, whose horror-crafting styles are clearly present. I enjoyed this odd film.  MORE MOVIES LIKE Gerald’s GameHmmm… maybe Creep (2014) or What Lies Beneath (2000), as neither turn out to be as we expect.

When Jesse (Carla Gugino; The Unborn, Sucker Punch) and Gerald (Bruce Greenwood; Disturbing Behavior, Below) head out to their quiet lake house trying to spice up their marriage, things don’t go entirely according to plan.  Jessie is left in a most precarious position when her husband suddenly dies, leaving her handcuffed to the bed…alone…with not a neighbor within earshot.

Based on a Stephen King story, this intriguing film feels a lot like a one-act play complete with narratives, flashbacks and asides.  Everything revolves around Jessie’s fear of dying, or is it her desperate fight to survive…or is it to overcome her guilt?  Things tend to get hazy and frantic when one is faced with death, a hungry feral dog, deliriously dehydration, and your dead husband is just a few feet away.

Director Mike Flanagan (Oculus, Absentia, Hush, Ouija: Origin of Evil) is no stranger to trippy psychological horror, and this little thriller is just that.  Jessie hallucinates guilt trips, narrates her actions (to herself), and manifests boogeymen.

As we witness Jessie’s desperation, we viewers feel all the moral-testing torments swirling about her psyche.  And while it touches on many uneasy psychoanalytical aspects of relationships (from control to sexual abuse), this piece is just as interesting as it is uncomfortably engaging.  We build up to visuals and concepts that test our stomach, our sensibilities and our nerves.  Watch out for some cringing scenes (and quite gory out of nowhere) worthy of a Saw film, others reminiscent of the most horrifying creepypasta (a la Insidious).

For me the third act was equal parts insanely neat and, well, just insane.  Some notions of credibility and catharsis were tested in the last 25 minutes, but not in such a way that things fell apart or harmed my enjoyment of this odd film (a Netflix original).  Fans of King and Flanagan will see many of their staples, whether they be favorite actors, story-telling styles or recurring literary themes.  But I won’t call this a “must see” for fans of either horrorsmith; rather a “should see.”  It’s interesting and inventive.

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