Entertainment and Current Events

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.

Entertainment and Current Events

That’s It, Isn’t It?

SPOILER ALERT if you haven’t already seen It.

I saw the remake of Stephen King’s It a few weeks ago and was impressed. Usually, I can’t stand horror movies because of the useless jump scares and over-the-top blood and gore. But I loved reading It and I enjoy pretty much anything Stephen King writes, so I figured… why not? (I saw only bits and pieces of the 1990 miniseries, so I really can’t compare the 2017 version to the older one.)

At first, I didn’t like that the movie was set in the late 1980s because that was a departure from the book, whose first part (when the main characters are kids) was set in the late 1950s. As the movie went on, it turned out that the different time frame really didn’t make much difference for the plot. The coming-of-age vibe was still there and the characters were still true to themselves.

My other two issues with the movie were the scene where blood starts gushing up from the sink, completely covering the bathroom and soaking poor Beverly. I didn’t care for it because the use of blood seemed like it was overkill, but then again, I had to remind myself that this is a Stephen King movie and that’s what he does best (it reminded me of the blood-dousing scene in Carrie).

There also seemed to be an unresolved plot point toward the end when all the kids were down in the sewer fighting off It. All of It’s previous victims were literally floating, and at one point, they started to float lower once the monster started to weaken. I wondered if that meant that the kids would come back to life eventually, but the “kids floating lower” was never explained. Maybe the next movie will have a better explanation because I don’t remember anything like that happening in the book.

Otherwise, I’d recommend It. Pennywise was a lot creepier than the original, and the camaraderie among the kids seemed realistic (thank God the movie left out that weird sex scene from the book). A very long book (well, half the book, anyway) was boiled down into a 2-hour movie without losing much, which was a great success on the director’s part. I’m looking forward to Chapter 2, when the kids (now adults) come back to destroy It once and for all.

Books and Authors

A Writer’s Dark Half

This weekend, I finished reading Stephen King’s The Dark Half, which was published in 1989. This one was about a writer whose pen name comes to life and runs amok, murdering people in a grisly fashion. I liked the premise of the living pseudonym, but I didn’t care for all the gore. I feel like The Dark Half was one of the bloodier King novels I’ve read.

The book had some interesting musings on the nature of writing. An author essentially lives in two worlds: the fictional world of his or her own creation and the real world. Strangely enough, the fictional world can seem just as real as the real world, but the difficulty of writing is to make the fiction real enough that the reader can be captivated by your fantasy, too.

Writers also have a kind of “third eye,” if you will, as the protagonist of the book did. Perhaps this third eye allows writers to look inward to distill their deepest thoughts and emotions in way that others can relate to, or perhaps the “third eye” is a kind of intuition about life or a different way of looking at the world.

It was also interesting how the protagonist realized that there was a part of him that didn’t want to kill his evil “dark half.” A part of him enjoyed writing as the pseudonym and getting to vicariously do terrible things to people. The book ended with a secondary character musing on how, although the pseudonym was dead, there would always be a  part of the writer that was deranged. Because this “deranged” part of the writer would always exist, part of him would always be separate from his loved ones, because this is the part of the writer that can envision (and even revel in creating) horrible things, even if those horrible things are fictional.

So it all goes back to that darker part of human nature in general. We hear about terrible events like the tragedy in Orlando or the Holocaust or 9/11 and we believe that we could never be perpetrators of such horror. The truth is, most of us will likely never be. But we all have a dark, fallen side, and it is good to acknowledge that every now and then. In a way, it can keep us in touch with reality. Even more so, writers need to be sure that they are staying bound to the real world even when the fictional world seems more appealing at times.