Wanna Play a Game?

SPOILER ALERT if you have not yet seen the movie Gerald’s Game (on Netflix).

Sorry for the Stephen King overload on this blog, but I periodically get re-obsessed with his work, so many admiring posts result. Anyway…

I read Gerald’s Game a long time ago, probably when I was in high school, and all I remember thinking was that I would never let anyone handcuff me anywhere if I could help it. The book didn’t really stand out in my mind as one of my absolute favorites by King, probably because it’s written in a similar vein as Lisey’s Story and Rose Madder, in that it has themes of feminism, spousal abuse, and domestic violence. (Don’t get me wrong; Rose Madder was one of my favorite books by King, but he is somehow less strong when he writes from a female perspective.)

Because it had been a long time since I’d read the book, I couldn’t really compare it to the movie in terms of how accurately the latter followed the former. I would say that the movie was good enough in its own right, and I probably would have seen it if it hadn’t had any relation to Stephen King. Gerald’s Game was classified as horror, but it’s not the kind of horror with over-the-top blood and “jump scare” scenes. It was more of a psychological suspense movie, where the horror is inside the character’s mind. This is more compelling to me because real human beings live with psychological horror every day, and the in-depth exploration of a character’s psychological background is so rarely done in movies. Most of the time, it’s just action sequences right after another with very little exploration of character.

Like It, Gerald’s Game was “aged up” to take place in the 2010s, which didn’t affect the plot at all. In fact, some of the themes in Gerald’s Game were probably more relevant today than when the book was written. When I watched it, I was reminded of many recent news articles about the pornography epidemic and its detrimental effects on men and boys—I could imagine Gerald being addicted to bondage porn and wanting to try out that fantasy on his wife. Also, one of the biggest elements in the movie was a solar eclipse, which reminded me of the solar eclipse this past August. They probably should have released the movie on Netflix a month earlier to make it even more timely.

If you want a horror movie that makes you think, I highly recommend Gerald’s Game, but if you want a lot of action sequences or a more typical horror movie with tons of blood and gore, this is not the movie for you. Yes, it does have its bloody moments, but they’re actually fairly tame compared to a lot of the horror movies that have come out recently.