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Mike Flanagan reportedly carried around a copy of “Gerald’s Game” to meetings because it was the Stephen King book he dreamed of adapting since he was a teenager. This is arguably a sign of insanity. Not only is it considered one of King’s lesser works, but it takes place almost entirely in inner monologue and memory, with its only major character handcuffed to a bed. In other words, it always felt deeply impossible to adapt into a film, and that’s not even getting into the downright silly ending. And yet Flanagan used the deserved credibility garnered from the success of “ Oculus ,” “Hush” and “ Ouija: Origin of Evil ” to finally make his teenage dreams come true. The result is further proof that this filmmaker is for real. He has made just about the best version of “Gerald’s Game” that could result from not majorly overhauling the book, and delivered a film, premiering today on Netflix, that stands as the best King adaptation of the year so far (which includes the disappointing “ The Dark Tower ” and shockingly huge “ It ,” although the upcoming “1922” could dethrone it in a few weeks.)

A man smiles lovingly as he handcuffs his wife to a bed at a remote vacation home. The man is a successful attorney named Gerald (Bruce Greenwood), and his wife is named Jessie ( Carla Gugino ). We can tell immediately that not everything is going smoothly in this union, but it’s the kind of marital speedbump that can hopefully be overcome with some Sam Cooke and some Viagra. Oh, and maybe a little role-playing. With an early overhead shot, Flanagan has revealed that Gerald packed handcuffs, and he’s eager to use them. When he starts becoming excited over the fact that no one could hear a handcuffed Jessie and covers her mouth with his hand, she tries to call it off. She doesn’t feel sexy; she feels objectified. “Uncuff me and we can talk,” she says. He replies, “What if I won’t?” That loosely-veiled threat doesn’t pay out, however, because Gerald has a heart attack, dropping dead right on top of her. She pushes his body off, and realizes the sheer horror of her predicament, handcuffed to a bed, too far away for anyone to hear her screams.

What might seem goofy or even silly is played for terror instantly as Gugino conveys the multiple horrors of a rape fantasy gone wrong, dead husband, and a trapped woman—all within minutes. Flanagan trusts Gugino completely, keeping us locked with Jessie as long as conceivably possible. He also gets around the inner monologue problem of the book by allowing a lot of that exposition to come as an increasingly-hallucinating Jessie having “conversations” with a now-mobile Gerald and even a tougher version of herself. The scenes between Gugino and Greenwood are phenomenally written as the actress plays the realism of her predicament and Greenwood recognizes that he’s playing an exaggerated version of Gerald, the one his wife would envision. The idea that Jessie would have visions of a devil and angel on her shoulder to get her out of her situation is interesting enough but even more so when you consider that the angel is a tougher version of herself and the devil is her now-dead husband.

Flanagan has become more and more confident as a craftsman with each film. Here he knows that less is more, never resorting to the techniques that a lot of filmmakers would have used to make up for the lack of story. Instead of loud jump scares or quick cuts, he pulls out score for most of the film and goes with long takes, putting us in the room with Jessie and her husband’s body. We only leave that space when absolutely necessary, for an essential flashback that adds deeper subtext to this story, revealing that Jessie has a dark past she once buried but that could now be the key to saving her life. It’s an incredibly well-made film, and Flanagan gets the best performances he’s directed yet from Gugino and Greenwood—it’s great to see them get such juicy roles.

Any diehard King fan will tell you that the author’s biggest problem is endings. For years, it was almost a joke that King didn’t know how to wrap up even his best books. His ending for “Gerald’s Game” is atrocious, and you’d be better off turning this off about ten minutes before the credits and just imagining what happens. I’ll say this—he does about as good a job with King’s ending as I think he possibly could have, even finding a neat visual trick in the closing scenes that helps tie Jessie’s story together thematically. Still, it’s remarkable that Flanagan didn’t decide to completely alter the twisty ending, but it shows how loyal he was to bringing the challenges of this novel to the big screen intact. 

Brian Tallerico

Brian Tallerico

Brian Tallerico is the Managing Editor of RogerEbert.com, and also covers television, film, Blu-ray, and video games. He is also a writer for Vulture, The Playlist, The New York Times, and GQ, and the President of the Chicago Film Critics Association.

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Film credits.

Gerald's Game movie poster

Gerald's Game (2017)

103 minutes

Carla Gugino as Jessie Burlingame

Bruce Greenwood as Gerald Burlingame

  • Mike Flanagan

Writer (based on the novel by)

  • Stephen King
  • Jeff Howard

Cinematographer

  • Michael Fimognari
  • The Newton Brothers

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Netflix’s Gerald’s Game is a graceful, mold-breaking Stephen King adaptation

Mike Flanagan’s taut film subverts our expectations with an added dose of feminism.

by Aja Romano

movie review gerald's game

Unlike most Stephen King film adaptations, the new Netflix movie Gerald’s Game , about a woman who becomes trapped in a remote vacation house after her husband dies, doesn’t announce itself as being based on a King novel. In a year when King is everywhere , that may be surprising — but it’s also indicative of how different both Gerald’s Game and its source novel are from most of their peers.

That’s a good thing for Stephen King fans, not only because Gerald’s Game is quite good, but because it indicates that Hollywood is stepping outside of the typical Stephen King sandbox to find stories that challenge our expectations of King as a writer , as well as our expectations of horror itself.

Gerald’s Game is a timely, feminist locked-room horror movie

One of the best things about this movie is its smallness. Almost the entirety of the film takes place in a single room — the master bedroom of the remote lake cottage that Jessie ( Carla Gugino ) and her husband Gerald ( Bruce Greenwood ) have rented for an isolated weekend retreat. With no neighbors around for miles, they’re eager to engage in a few sexual games to reignite their marriage — until it rapidly becomes clear that they haven’t fully discussed their respective boundaries and desires, and Gerald’s “game,” a crude rape fantasy, immediately falls apart.

But instead of abandoning the idea right away, Gerald resists. And then he has a heart attack, leaving Jessie handcuffed to the bed. At that point, still reeling from the trauma she’s just experienced, she must escape to save her own life, lest she eventually die of starvation. Upping the stakes are the presence of a starving stray dog, a strange reaper-like bone collector dubbed the Moonlight Man who may or may not be a hallucination, and Jessie’s own resurfacing memories of childhood sexual assault.

Gerald’s Game comes from director Mike Flanagan, who scored two horror hits in 2016 with Hush , also a Netflix exclusive, and Ouija: Origin of Evil . Though Flanagan has justly earned critical acclaim for his smart pacing and well-crafted storytelling, his movies — all of which he has written or co-written — have consistently felt uneven, especially in terms of their writing. Gerald’s Game is his first feature film adapting someone else’s material, and the difference is immediately apparent. By reducing the book’s cast, cutting much of its final act, and confining most of the film’s action to its one-room set, Flanagan strips King’s source novel to its core elements, in a way that allows the drama of Jessie’s predicament to unfold while centering her interior life in a way that we rarely see in horror.

The resulting adaptation isn’t perfect; its weakest moments come when Flanagan and his co-writer Jeff Howard step away from the original King story and get preachy about men controlling women, or water down an already basic look at BDSM and female empowerment into something even more oversimplified. But Gerald’s Game is still a taut, eerie thriller with plenty of tension and a few surprising moments of grace — particularly when a hallucinated Gerald tries to tempt Jessie to give up and welcome death. In those instances, King’s understated concept gains full force, as we realize Jessie’s struggle is not just to escape from the bed but to escape from a lifetime of feeling trapped.

Most Stephen King novels follow certain themes. Gerald’s Game upends them all.

As the record-breaking success of the recent remake of It reminds us, the quintessential “Stephen King movie” tends to have a distinct style and tone. These movies are often set in small towns with dark underbellies and are rife with deep-rooted nostalgia, themes of male bonding (particularly between men and boys) and boys becoming men, and allegories for the creative process. Even his non-horror classics like Stand by Me and The Shawshank Redemption exhibit many of these traits, and his most well-known works, like The Shining and It , comprise pretty much all of them.

Gerald’s Game , in contrast, is about none of these things. The novel came out in 1992 (during a period of low acclaim for King’s work after critics had panned 1991’s Needful Things ), followed six months later by another novel, Dolores Claiborne. Originally intended to be part of the same work, both stories stand apart from the King canon for their depiction of women experiencing domestic abuse and sexual assault.

But where the character of Dolores Claiborne found her agency through violence, King vividly constructs, through Gerald’s Game ’s Jessie, an allegory for the lived experience of surviving sexual assault through a single concept: A woman is handcuffed to a bed in which she has recently experienced a rape attempt, and has to free herself.

In Gerald’s Game , not only are the typical King tropes absent, but King deliberately distorts many of them. Flashbacks to Jessie’s childhood are shot through with horror, not nostalgia; her coming of age is defined by survival rather than empowerment. Family bonds are distorted and corrupted, and it’s female bonding — an aspect that’s sadly significantly reduced in Flanagan’s film — that helps ensure Jessie’s survival.

This is all wildly atypical for a Stephen King novel, let alone a screen adaptation of one. Flanagan has made a habit of directing female protagonists in small spaces ( Oculus and Hush both feature female protagonists confined to a single location, for example), and the parameters of Gerald’s Game allow him to do what he does best — explore his female characters while ratcheting up tension.

The story’s supernatural elements, which are deliberately ambiguous in the novel, are explicitly negated in the film. But there’s still a touch of magical realism present, particularly in the couldn’t-be-timelier element of a solar eclipse that occurred the day of Jessie’s past assault. And it’s this part of the plot that gives Flanagan a unique cinematic opportunity. Thanks to the director’s surreal solar eclipse filter, we see the world through blood-colored glasses; that cynical stylization brings home just how refreshing this assured adaptation of an atypical King story is, and reminds us of how timely King’s uncanny powers of social observation and humanizing horror can be in the upside-down landscape of 2017.

Gerald’s Game is currently available to stream on Netflix.

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Gerald's Game Review

50,000,000 shades darker..

Gerald's Game Review - IGN Image

Gerald’s Game is a set of tightly wound gears that cranks out dread. Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood are as superb as they have ever been, relishing in the opportunity to ask and answer all the big and little questions about Jessie, within the confines of an exquisite, simple, torturously suspenseful thriller.

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Gerald's Game

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Gerald's Game Reviews

movie review gerald's game

Flanagan's thrilling adaptation shouldn't work, but the director's style, plus Gugino and Greenwood's acting, is never less than captivating. The coda works better in hindsight, particularly when it's presented as Jessie's Good For Her moment.

Full Review | Original Score: 4.5/5 | Nov 2, 2022

movie review gerald's game

The performances and writing are so strong that it's the atmosphere that scares you more than anything. Gerald's Game is a great, tense film that doesn't pander or belittle you. It'll make you squirm in all the best ways.

Full Review | Original Score: 7/10 | May 19, 2022

movie review gerald's game

Flanagan's direction is superb. Gerald's Game is a film that looks like it was storyboarded, and that those storyboards were followed in every detail.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4 | Feb 23, 2022

movie review gerald's game

The film does a smashing job, mostly thanks to Carla Gugino's grand slam of a full-bodied breakdown

Full Review | Jan 14, 2022

movie review gerald's game

A perfect movie adaptation of one of my favorite books ever. Thank you, Mike Flanagan.

Full Review | Apr 22, 2021

movie review gerald's game

There are few movies that manage to outdo their source material. There are fewer still movies that are based on a Stephen King book and still manage to outdo the source material. Netflix original film Gerald's Game is one such movie.

Full Review | Mar 9, 2021

movie review gerald's game

Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, Gerald's Game is a rich psychological horror with mild frights. Showcasing how your mind can be your worst enemy.

Full Review | Jan 2, 2021

movie review gerald's game

Carla Gugino delivers one of the best performances of the year in a faithful adaptation from Mike Flanagan.

Full Review | Original Score: A | Nov 16, 2019

movie review gerald's game

'Gerald's Game' is able to please King's fans and, at the same time, to propose a film that is perfectly maintained as a meticulous thriller and a horror artifact. [Full Review in Spanish]

Full Review | Aug 9, 2019

movie review gerald's game

Explores the dichotomy of truth and lies in a marriage, how men can transform into dangerous foes instead of husbands to the wives they supposedly love.

Full Review | Original Score: 5/5 | May 3, 2019

Gugino's performance is strong and varied enough to keep viewers riveted during a confronting personal ordeal ahead.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | Apr 17, 2019

movie review gerald's game

Filmmaker Mike Flanagan delivers an efficiently-paced adaptation that grows more and more absorbing as it progresses into its midsection...

Full Review | Original Score: 3/4 | Mar 7, 2019

movie review gerald's game

[Gerald's Game] is thoughtful and tense, with moments of pathos and a surprising sense of the visceral.

Full Review | Original Score: 4.5/5 | Feb 11, 2019

movie review gerald's game

The movie, like the novel, plays with the limits between reality and imagination, masterfully crafted by Mike Flanagan with his direction and edition. [Full review in Spanish]

Full Review | Dec 10, 2018

movie review gerald's game

Nothing about Gerald's Game would have worked if they hadn't gotten the right actress, and Carla Gugino is spot on.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/5 | Nov 8, 2018

movie review gerald's game

Gerald's Game may be an imperfect adaptation, but it's an adaptation that couldn't exist without these actors and this director.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | Nov 3, 2018

movie review gerald's game

There are some legitimately upsetting moments throughout "Gerald's Game." Yet, it's not long before the nifty tricks give way to over the top revelations.

Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4 | Nov 2, 2018

movie review gerald's game

With two fantastic leads, Flanagan reaches the sick g-spot effortlessly in Gerald's Game.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/5 | Oct 31, 2018

movie review gerald's game

Gerald's Game is the best adaptation that could come from King's seemingly unfilmable novel.

movie review gerald's game

Despite being set almost entirely in one room, Gerald's Game turns out to be a deeply visual and physical film.

Full Review | Original Score: B- | Oct 31, 2018

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Film Review: ‘Gerald’s Game’

Carla Gugino gives a tour-de-force performance in an arresting psychological thriller based on Stephen King's 1992 novel.

By Joe Leydon

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'Gerald's Game' Review

The Year of Stephen King continues apace with the arrival of “Gerald’s Game,” one of two Netflix-produced King adaptations (along with “1922”) unveiled last weekend at Austin’s genre-skewing Fantastic Fest. But here’s the rub: It’s entirely possible that this particular adaptation may be best appreciated — or, to paraphrase the late George Michael, viewed without prejudice — by people who have never read King’s 1992 bestseller of the same title.

Writer-director Mike Flanagan (“Ouija: Origin of Evil”) and co-writer Jeff Howard have proficiently streamlined and simplified a novel that, according to the production notes, even Flanagan once considered “unfilmable.” But the end result of their reimagining might very well produce more complaints than usual from disapproving King fans that, really, the book was a lot better.

To be fair, the movie tends to adhere quite effectively to the bare bones of King’s original plot. At a secluded lake house — the kind of place where no one in the surrounding area can hear you scream — Jessie ( Carla Gugino ) and Gerald Burlingame ( Bruce Greenwood ) are squabbling about whether they should continue a kinky sex game when Gerald inconveniently expires.

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Unfortunately, this leaves Jessie handcuffed to their bed, unable to free herself, increasingly frantic and dehydrated, and haunted by voices inside her head that sound more hectoring than helpful. Even more unfortunately, a famished abandoned dog wanders into the lake house through an open door, feasts on Gerald’s corpse and gradually expresses an appetite for fresher meat.

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And oh, by the way, Jessie is visited by a gruesome stranger who may be a hallucination “made of moonlight,” or something much, much worse.

Right from the start, Flanagan and Howard put their own spin on the material by making Jessie far less culpable for her husband’s untimely demise, cleverly implying that Gerald died of a heart attack because he popped one too many little blue pills before playtime. But that is a relatively minor adjustment compared to what could be a deal-breaker for fans of the novel: Instead of having the voices inside Jessie’s head belong to people from her past, or manifestations of her own tortured psyche, the movie has the shackled heroine encouraged and harassed by two on-screen supporting characters: the unquiet spirit of Gerald (who’s understandably upset that the dog is treating his corpse as a blue-plate special) and a vividly imagined, no-B.S. version of Jessie herself.

Think of it this way: King’s novel could be done as a radio play (much like Lindsay Crouse’s exceptional audiobook performance of “Gerald’s Game”), while the film adaptation could, with only minor tinkering and excisions, be reconstituted as a stage play (much like the recent Broadway incarnation of King’s “Misery”).

Taken strictly on its own terms, the film adaptation is an arrestingly and sometimes excruciatingly suspenseful psychological thriller lightly garnished with horror-movie flourishes — including one especially squirm-inducing instance of copious bloodletting — and driven by a compelling lead performance that is entirely worthy of a description too often misapplied to lesser work: tour de force.

Gugino adroitly intertwines varying threads of panic, rage, resentment, gallows humor and long-simmering resentment while Jessie struggles to remain sane, or least tightly focused, while pulling double duty: anxiously searching for any means of escape, and reluctantly taking stock of the life she has lived, as well as the emotions she has repressed, up to the moment Gerald clicked on the cuffs.

Flanagan and Howard do not always display a light touch when it comes to stressing symbolism, Freudian and otherwise, but Gugino imparts compelling emotional truth into scenes that suggest (and, near the end, bluntly announce) that Jessie was shackled long before reaching the lake house, by her marriage and acquiescence to Gerald and, years earlier, by suppressed memories of sexual violation. As a result, she now has more than one set of chains to break.

Chiara Aurelia is affectingly credible as the 12-year-old Jessie, who appears in flashbacks and elsewhere. And Henry Thomas remains nimbly poised on a knife edge between manipulative predator and self-loathing weakling as Jessie’s father, arguably his meatiest role since he was cast as a dying but defiant Hank Williams in 2011’s “The Last Ride.”

But Bruce Greenwood is the one who emerges as the movie’s most valuable supporting player, playing Gerald as a sly S.O.B. who is by turns shockingly witty, appallingly misogynistic and unflappably condescending while engaged in posthumous wordplay with Jessie and her tougher-talking doppelganger.

Credit cinematographer Michael Fimognari and production designer Patrick M. Sullivan Jr. for enhancing the claustrophobic feel of scenes inside the lake-house bedroom. It must be acknowledged that, during these scenes, Gugino looks very attractive in the slinky silk slip that Maddie purchased as suitable attire for sexual hijinks. But it must also be acknowledged that the filmmakers utilize that purchase as a plant that pays off in an ingeniously nerve-wracking sequence that even Alfred Hitchcock might have envied.

Reviewed at Fantastic Fest, Austin, Sept. 24, 2017. Running time: 103 MIN.

  • Production: A Netflix release and presentation of an Intrepid Pictures production. Producer: Trevor Macy. Executive producers: D. Scott Lumpkin, Ian Bricke, Matt Levin.
  • Crew: Director: Mike Flanagan. Screenplay: Flanagan, Jeff Howard, based on the novel by Stephen King. Camera (color): Michael Fimognari. Editor: Flanagan. Music: The Newton Brothers.
  • With: Carla Gugino, Bruce Greenwood, Chiara Aurelia, Henry Thomas, Kate Siegel, Carel Struycken.

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Gerald's Game

Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood in Gerald's Game (2017)

A couple tries to spice up their marriage in a remote lake house. After the husband dies unexpectedly, the wife is left handcuffed to their bed frame and must fight to survive and break free... Read all A couple tries to spice up their marriage in a remote lake house. After the husband dies unexpectedly, the wife is left handcuffed to their bed frame and must fight to survive and break free. A couple tries to spice up their marriage in a remote lake house. After the husband dies unexpectedly, the wife is left handcuffed to their bed frame and must fight to survive and break free.

  • Mike Flanagan
  • Jeff Howard
  • Stephen King
  • Carla Gugino
  • Bruce Greenwood
  • Chiara Aurelia
  • 436 User reviews
  • 161 Critic reviews
  • 77 Metascore
  • 4 wins & 5 nominations

Official Trailer

  • Young Jessie

Carel Struycken

  • Moonlight Man

Henry Thomas

  • (as Gwendolyn Mulamba)

Jamie Flanagan

  • Court Clerk
  • (as James Flanagan)
  • Teenage Girl
  • Reporter #1
  • Reporter #2
  • Reporter #3

Chuck Borden

  • Court Officer #1
  • Court Officer #2
  • Corrections Officer
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Did you know

  • Trivia The book ("Midnight Mass") that Jessie throws at the dog in this movie was written by Kate Siegel 's character from Hush (2016) which was also directed by Mike Flanagan . It has subsequently been made into a Netflix Mini Series written and directed by Flanagan.
  • Goofs It is very unlikely that the car's airbags wouldn't deploy with such a hard crash.

Gerald Burlingame : People are safe from ghouls and ghosts and the living dead in the daylight. And they're usually safe from them at night, if they're with others. But a person alone in the dark... women alone in the dark are like open doors, Jessie, and if they scream for help, who knows what might answer. Who knows what people see in the moment of their solitary death. Is it so hard to believe that some of them might have died of fear? No matter what the words on the death certificate say... died of fear... because they saw, at their bedside, the Moonlight Man. Maybe that's just what death looks like.

Jessie Burlingame : Not... real...

Gerald Burlingame : Then why did the dog leave?

  • Crazy credits In each of the main credits' screen, a letter G, O, C or N is styled with the bright half-circle of the eclipse, which defines the color of the fonts: Letters to the left of that one are "lit up" in yellow, less bright the farther they are; the other letters are red. The remaining credits also have an unusual lighting, scrolling over a bright circle so that some letters are suddenly clearer.
  • Connections Featured in FoundFlix: Gerald's Game (2017) Ending Explained + Analysis (2017)
  • Soundtracks Bring It on Home to Me Performed by Sam Cooke Written by Sam Cooke Courtesy of ABKCO Music & Records, Inc. and Sony Music Entertainment

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Gerald’s Game Review

Despite almost never getting out of bed, Netflix's Gerald's Game might be the most haunting Stephen King adaptation of the year.

movie review gerald's game

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It is said the difference between comedy and tragedy is time. This might be true, but the difference between a comedic, or even farcical, situation and unrelenting psychological dread is entirely in the temperament of the filmmakers and actors. And as luck would have it, Gerald’s Game has a marvelous set of both who will do everything in their power to grind your nerves into putty.

As the third major Stephen King adaptation in only a few months, Mike Flanagan’s Gerald’s Game is an intensely intimate nightmare—and perhaps the most effectively haunting of the three films. To be sure, there is (arguably) nothing supernatural about Gerald’s Game , nor anything particularly “high-concept,” at least within the industry definition of that term. No major special effects explode here, nor are there alternate dimensions; there isn’t even a creepy dancing clown. In fact, the most daring thing about the picture is its exact smallness. For here is a movie that’s focused essentially on a woman who can’t pull herself out of bed.

Hardly the stuff of easy adaptation, the actual implications of why this woman has been stuck in one place, both in a horrifying moment of short-term survival and in a more abstract overview of her whole life, would likely make this tale of middle-aged despair “unfilmmable” to any number of modern studios. But as a Netflix original film, Flanagan has the support and resources to spend a whole film inside a bedroom… and explore the darkest corners therein.

Gerald’s Game begins peacefully enough. Sam Cooke’s smooth vocals croon “Bring It On Home to Me” as a picturesque, upper middle class couple pack for what appears to be a blissful weekend getaway in the country. Living in New Orleans, Jessie (Carla Gugino) and her lawyer husband Gerald (Bruce Greenwood) appear to have it all, including a remote and romantic cottage, probably out by a lake somewhere.

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The lake itself cannot be confirmed, because Gerald has one thing on his mind: spicing up their sex life. While Jessie packs dresses, Gerald packs a playful set of handcuffs that he cannot wait to try out in the bedroom. Inside of an hour upon their arrival, Gerald initiates what appears to be the couple’s first attempt at roleplaying, one that causes Jessie more than a hint of anxiety. Is this really the only way her older husband can find excitement now? But she doesn’t know the half of it. After his wife cuts his fun short, Gerald suffers a massive heart attack and drops dead right on the spot. Sprawled out on the floor and bleeding, Jessie’s terror at seeing her husband collapse is quickly supplanted by an even more primal fear: escape.

With each hand chained to an oak bedpost, there is no way for her to even reach the glass of water on the shelf above her head—never mind sit up straight. But she’ll have to do more than that as the hours (and days) threaten to pass by, and a stray dog attracted to blood comes calling, along with Jessie’s most hidden thoughts. Harassed by visions of herself, her recently deceased husband, and of her estranged father from childhood, Jessie’s mind will perform an entire courtroom drama as she risks withering away on the bed until the next man in her life, Death, finally arrives. And yes, he is a character too—wearing black.

Having never read Gerald’s Game myself, it is easy to imagine that adapting a novel that mixes light bondage with severe psychosexual childhood trauma was not an enviable task for Flanagan and his co-screenwriter Jeff Howard. The novel is apparently even more esoteric, as the voices in Jessie’s head take on unknowable, abstract shapes.

Hence it’s a canny decision to have Jessie re-litigate her suddenly ended marriage with these flights of fancy. Curiously her husband takes the role of essentially the devil on her shoulder, feeding into her worst impulses and self-doubts, pushing her closer to oblivion. While viewers will spend a relatively short amount of time with a breathing Gerald, one gets a strong understanding of the man from how Jessie perceives him, even while cringing at what a stray dog is doing to his body beneath the bed.

Gugino and Greenwood, two strong character actors who are usually cast aside to the background in higher budgeted movies (particularly as they’ve become thespians of a certain age) absolutely relish these roles, creating an entirely inhabited married life even though one of them is technically dead. The compromises, unspoken doubts, and medicinal peculiarities of a long marriage in which the years have passed—and the man is the older of the two—are slowly and gruelingly laid bare. Particularly, as evidenced by the waking dreams of Jessie’s childhood, that she traded one horrible relationship with an older man for merely a bland one with another.

Indeed, despite being a much more elemental narrative than the recent box office-dominating It adaptation, both stories have obvious overlaps, as women (at least also in the It novel) must grapple with their insidious childhood demons masquerading as paternity. These sequences in Gerald’s Game are also greatly aided by a performance from the young Chiara Aurelia in a precocious turn that is painfully authentic.

For audiences who are willing to study with such detail the shadings of an enigmatic portrait, Gerald’s Game is a worthwhile match between a woman, her mental demons, and even perhaps some real ones. For who knows what really watches in the dark of night? Flanagan recently entered the world of franchising with an improved but unnecessary Ouija prequel last year. Gerald’s Game, by contrast, is a movie akin to his best thrillers, including Oculus and Hush , where paranoia creeps under the skin, and reality blurs.

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As a Netflix film that is at least in part about marital disappointments, this is far from the flashiest Stephen King adaptation this year. And like so many other King-based stories, it features a denouement that goes on several scenes too long, all the while thematic through-lines are underscored to the point of their own detriment. Yet Gerald’s Game is a brazen thriller filled with narrative audacity and a “locked room” setup almost unheard of from studio chillers. And all things considered, this might just be the one that you find tied to your mind when the lights (or spark) go out.

David Crow

David Crow | @DCrowsNest

David Crow is the movies editor at Den of Geek. He has long been proud of his geek credentials. Raised on cinema classics that ranged from…

movie review gerald's game

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Gerald's game, common sense media reviewers.

movie review gerald's game

Well-made psychosexual horror film is gruesome and gory.

Gerald's Game Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Promotes confronting past demons, refusing to be v

Passive, timid, and unassertive heroine -- nearly

Graphic violence, heightened suspense, and scares.

Predatory sexual relationships are at the core of

Frequent profanity, including "f--k," &q

Viagra is essential to the plot.

Parents need to know that Gerald's Game is a horror movie based on a Stephen King novel. A seemingly fragile young wife accedes to her husband's wishes for some "kinky" sex when the unthinkable happens, and the woman is captive with no means of escape in an isolated house, alone ... or is…

Positive Messages

Promotes confronting past demons, refusing to be victimized, and effecting one's own survival. Advocates for speaking out loudly against wrongdoing; burying abuse fosters further abuse.

Positive Role Models

Passive, timid, and unassertive heroine -- nearly a lifelong victim -- finds the strength and courage to confront her past and present to save herself, both physically and emotionally. Male characters are predatory, manipulative, misogynistic, and destructive.

Violence & Scariness

Graphic violence, heightened suspense, and scares. Violence enhanced by music, visuals (with lots of blood), and sounds. Sexual terror. Leading character is handcuffed to her bed for most of the film, tormented by her captor. Torn body parts, a feral dog feasts on a dead body, a terrifying zombie-like apparition appears in multiple scenes, graphic verbal description of serial killer's crimes, a man suffers a fatal heart attack, a young girl is sexually assaulted.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.

Sex, Romance & Nudity

Predatory sexual relationships are at the core of the film. Sexual tension underscores the relationship between a man and his wife, whom he has handcuffed to a bed. He touches her breasts, degrades, and frightens her. Heroine is dressed in a skimpy silk shift throughout. A young girl is the victim of a sexual assault, shot with careful angles and heightened by sounds. Discussions of sexual inadequacy, Viagra, sex fantasies.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.

Frequent profanity, including "f--k," "s--t," "c--t," "penises." A husband insults and verbally assaults his wife in sexual terms.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.

Products & Purchases

Drinking, drugs & smoking.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Gerald's Game is a horror movie based on a Stephen King novel. A seemingly fragile young wife accedes to her husband's wishes for some "kinky" sex when the unthinkable happens, and the woman is captive with no means of escape in an isolated house, alone ... or is she alone? The movie is filled with intensely suspenseful scenes: nightmarish images and music, terrifying sounds, and graphic violence and bloodletting, which work with the theme of a woman's ongoing lifetime imprisonment (body, mind, and soul) to create an ominous, desperate struggle. Expect gruesome sequences ( spoiler alert ): a feral dog chewing on a fresh corpse, a frightening apparition of a zombie-like giant on the move toward a trapped victim, the sexual assault of a young girl, and the escalating attempts of the woman to free herself, no matter what the cost to her body. All this is combined with a sadistic villain who torments his victim relentlessly. Language is scathingly mean-spirited and includes a litany of obscenities, including "f--k," "s--t," "c--t," and other shaming put-downs. And then there's the sex. It's always menacing, with the victim unable to fight back. No overt sexual activity, just threatening behavior, such as hovering over the woman about to strike. Heroine wears a thin slip throughout, heightening her vulnerability. Strictly for horror fans who don't mind the "eww" factor along with some strong conceptual content. Definitely not for kids. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails .

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  • Parents say (7)
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Based on 7 parent reviews

Beginning and end meh, but the middle is a tightly wound spring

What's the story.

The marriage of Gerald ( Bruce Greenwood ) and Jessie Burlingame ( Carla Gugino ) is strained when GERALD'S GAME opens. Hoping to rekindle their feelings, they leave for a weekend at their second home, which is beautiful, isolated, in a lush setting. Gerald has brought along some handcuffs, intent upon introducing some spice to what has been a fading sexual relationship. After only a short time in the handcuffs, feeling trapped and increasingly frightened, Jessie is finished with the game. But Gerald isn't ready to unlock the cuffs. He continues the "game" until tragic circumstances prevent him from stopping it, even if he wanted to. Jessie is trapped, alone, imprisoned on the bed, without food, water, or any means of communicating with the outside world. No one will find her. No one will be able to help. A series of mounting events and extraordinary beings put Jessie in more jeopardy -- and those real events are joined by the eerie presence of the couple's two alter egos, who appear to the terrified woman and either mock or try to support her.

Is It Any Good?

Carla Gugino gives her all in a stellar performance; the production is first-rate, suspenseful, thought-provoking, and smart, but the gore and sexual threats make it tough going for the squeamish. Fans of Stephen King's book may be surprised by some of the changes to the story, but it all works as a movie. Gerald's Game is a tight thriller with a strong psychological core. Other performances, including those of Bruce Greenwood, Henry Thomas , and a very expressive dog, are first-rate as well. Still, there are moments that are hard to watch for any but horror fans. No kids.

Talk to Your Kids About ...

Families can talk about the gruesome violence found in many horror movies. Many teen and young adult fans find the genre to be "fun" (e.g., Scream , A Nightmare on Elm Street ). Gerald's Game isn't meant to be fun. It's neither exaggerated nor filmed for humorous shock value. Do you think the movie will appeal to the typical horror fan? Why or why not?

Do you have a brutality tolerance level? How much gross violence is too much for you? Try to determine what exactly makes you turn away from a scene because you simply can't watch.

Why is it important for families to understand the impact of violence on kids ?

Think about the art direction. How did Mike Flanagan and his team use the lighting (both exterior and interior), doors and windows, furnishings, and even the fabrics to contribute to the overall mood?

Movie Details

  • On DVD or streaming : September 29, 2017
  • Cast : Carla Gugino , Bruce Greenwood , Henry Thomas
  • Director : Mike Flanagan
  • Inclusion Information : Female actors
  • Studio : Netflix
  • Genre : Horror
  • Run time : 103 minutes
  • MPAA rating : NR
  • Last updated : June 1, 2023

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Netflix's Gerald's Game Review: An Unrelenting Sprint Into Madness

movie review gerald's game

Move over, It : There's a new best Stephen King adaptation that just so happens to have been released in September 2017. Gerald's Game is a horrifying, fast movie with a killer (sorry) premise and a couple of all-timer performances. It 's bigger; this is better.

The salient details are these: Jessie (Carla Gugino) and Gerald (Bruce Greenwood) are a married couple who travel to the middle of nowhere in Maine for a romantic getaway: retro cars and Kobe steak and all ("It's really from Kobe," Gerald mentions a few times). Quite quickly, an amorous, adventurous Gerald initiates a sex game turned rape fantasy: he chains Jessie to the bed with police-grade handcuffs, fights with her about their ailing marriage, and promptly dies of a heart attack, roughly 15 minutes or so into the film. Idiot.

Andy Muschietti tells us about bringing Stephen King's terrifying novel to life—and his plans for the sequel.

Image may contain: Performer, Human, Person, Clown, Balloon, and Ball

In less capable hands, this would be the opening to a survival thriller by way of MacGyver, but this is Stephen King we're talking about (and one of the most exciting genre directors working today in Mike Flanagan). Jessie's quests for survival and escape come in fits and starts. Gerald's Game , for the most part, is focused on something much more interesting: the horror of helplessness, and the insidious infection of memory.

Jessie isn't quite alone. In their rush to get the the bedroom, the front door to their holiday house was left open. A hungry dog, emboldened by Jessie's offer of some of that Kobe beef, finds Gerald's body fairly quickly, and starts to tuck in. There's also the small matter of Gerald himself taking the form of a hallucination, taunting and manipulating Jessie. Hell, there's even a second Jessie.

And so we're thrust into what could be described as one of the most surreal ensemble thrillers of all time. Greenwood is excellent, even conveying a good deal as a chewed-up corpse. It's important to remember that, after the inciting incident, the Gerald we're seeing is nothing but an extension of an increasingly desperate Jessie. He revels in her fear, and comforts her in equal measure. It's hard to tell which is more sinister.

But this is, of course, Gugino's film. She's playing off herself as much as she is Greenwood. Jessie 2, as Gugino and Flanagan called her on set, is a confident, harsh presence. A vision of what life could have been like for Jessie, or what it still could be, if she can just get these fucking handcuffs off. A third vision, hinted at to be none other than death, lurks in the corner occasionally. Silent. Waiting.

Gerald's Game is a gorgeous film. Tight, too, despite its one-hour-45-minute runtime. The flashbacks into Jessie's past could easily feel like padding—or exploitative, given the material within—but instead they form the nucleus of not only her trauma but her strength. Objections were raised to the ending of King's book, even by die-hard fans, and many will be surprised with just how closely the adaptation hews to the divisive final chapter. It might be a little silly, a little narratively disappointing. It's a rough end to a movie, but there's no doubt it's a worthy end to Jessie's story. And that's what matters.

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Gerald's Game  handcuffs a great Carla Gugino with lifeless domestic melodrama: EW review

movie review gerald's game

It’s hard to think of an unfilmable Stephen King story with a higher degree of difficulty than Gerald’s Game . The original 1992 novel is a radical variation on erotic thriller trend, a deconstructed riff on Eszterhas-y softcore noir by the ever-adventurous King (a longtime EW contributor). The book begins with Jessie Burlingame anxiously allowing her husband Gerald to initiate some playful-yet-eerie role play, handcuffing her to a bed in their vacation home. The home happens to be a cabin in the woods, and the horrors start quickly. Gerald expires from a heart attack, leaving Jessie latched to their marital bed. That’s the inciting incident, and most of the plot.

Credit director Mike Flanagan for tackling such a potentially static premise, and doubly credit the great Carla Gugino for spending much of the Gerald’s Game adaptation wearing handcuffs and a slip and an expression of mad terror. The early scenes have a droll domestic suspense. Jessie and Gerald (Bruce Greenwood) arrive at their vacation home. They awkwardly prepare for a good time. She rips a tag off her undergarments; he swallows a blue pill.

The scene that follows is a complex, freaky, darkly funny emotional ballet. Greenwood and Gugino make a compelling old married couple, experts at talking around each other. And then Gerald grasps his chest, and a wild dog walks through the open door, and the real nightmare begins.

And also, sadly, kind of ends. Flanagan has conceived some clever strategies for approaching Jessie’s predicament, at one point composing an entire action scene out of the gradual movement of a glass of water across a wooden shelf. But in attempting to translate the voice of the novel – King speaking through Jessie, Jessie speaking to herself and then to herselves – Flanagan and co-writer Jeff Howard aim for the oldest trick in the book: Imaginary friends. So a freaked-out Jessie talks to a revenant Gerald (Greenwood, now with a sneer) and to a separate unshackled self (Gugino, in full badass mode).

There’s a grand guignol sensibility here, the decomposing corpse at the end of the bed, the imaginary Jessie and Gerald doing their own underwear-only interpretation of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? But then some of the hallucinations begin to debate the relative reality of other hallucinations. Meanwhile, there’s a stretch towards more sensitive material, flashing back to Jessie’s youth to explore the origins of her genuine trauma.

The film stretches to weave these two tones together, a madcap domestic apocalypse and a repressed assault narrative. When it works, it’s because of Gugino, the rare performer who can suggest victimized despair and empowered triumph. At the climactic moment, she embodies both, as the film builds to an act that’s both suicidal and resurrective.

That act, which I won’t spoil, is also one of the single grossest things I’ve ever seen in a movie. It would almost be worth the price of admissions; it’s certainly worth a Netflix click. But that build takes a long time. Like King’s original book, Gerald’s Game runs on too long, an undernourished 100 minutes with an unbearably endless closing sequence. C+

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Geek Culture | Movies, TV, Comic Books & Video Games

Movie Review – Gerald’s Game (2017)

October 2, 2017 by Liam Hoofe

Gerald’s Game , 2017.

Directed by Mike Flanagan. Starring Carla Gugino, Bruce Greenwood, Chiara Aurelia, Henry Thomas, Kate Siegel, and Carel Struycken.

A middle-aged couple’s weekend away to solve their marital issues is brought to a startling halt when, during a sex game, the husband has a heart attack, leaving his wife handcuffed to a bed with nothing but her dead husband and a hungry dog to keep her company.

After the critical and financial disaster of The Dark Tower , the reasonable success of the TV adaptation of The Mist and It officially becoming the highest grossing horror movie of all time this week, 2017’s obsession with Stephen King adaptations doesn’t look set to stop anytime soon, with Netflix now throwing their hat into the ring with an adaptation of Gerald’s Game .

Of all the King novels that have been adapted this year, Gerald’s Game is perhaps the least known. Written in what is considered by many to have been a lull period for the writer, the story is, in a lot of ways, very different from what fans have come to expect from King – playing out like a Hitchcockian thriller, as opposed to an out and out horror.  It is that element of surprise that works massively in the movie’s favour here, with Gerald’s Game being arguably the best King adaptation of 2017.

The premise is simple: a couple take a weekend away to resolve their marital issues, only for the husband to have a heart attack while the wife is handcuffed to the bed, leaving her isolated in a cottage in the woods, with only a dog and the body of her dead husband for company.

The set-up itself is distressing enough, but what unravels is even more terrifying. Soon, all of her fears began to manifest themselves as she slowly but surely loses her mind over the course of a few days, being forced to face her past and all the horrors it brings.

As you will have probably presumed from the plot, the vast majority of this movie all takes place in one location – a holiday rental cottage’s bedroom. Director Mike Flanagan of course has experience with this – he helmed the hugely successful Hush and Gerald’s Game draws a lot of inspiration from that. Both movies feature a woman trapped in one location, facing fears that are seemingly inescapable, with no contact with the outside world and the spectre of dangerous men leaning over them. Like Hush , Gerald’s Game manages to use this situation massively to its advantage, forcing the women to do often horrendous things with what little resources it has.  Flanagan’s movies have a knack of forcing you to ask yourself what you would do in these situations, and it’s that realisation of hopelessness that terrifies you more than any sort of demented killer could ever do.

The best scenes here come when Jessie, played spectacularly by Carla Gugino, is forced to confront her deepest darkest fears. Two scenes in particular – one involving a total eclipse and another a glass full of water, which I won’t spoil for you – are particularly difficult to watch and are expertly directed by Flanagan, who knows exactly how to get under a viewer’s skin without relying on any sort of jump scares.

Gerald’s Game , unlike a lot of King adaptations, doesn’t have a clear antagonist; its sole focus is on Jessie’s mental breakdown and, by avoiding these King tropes, the movie, and its audience, reap the rewards. Initial questions about whether the movie’s premise could handle a 100-minute runtime were efficiently disposed of, as Flanagan just continues to add intricate layers to his central characters, all of which feels surprisingly organic.

Gugino’s performance is also a career best here. We see her transform from a suburban, attractive housewife, into a desperate, beaten woman who will do whatever it takes to survive and Gugino pulls off both elements of the character beautifully. Along with Flanagan’s expertly crafted sense of dread, she is the star of the show here. That isn’t to say, Bruce Greenwood, who plays the titular Gerald doesn’t deserve some credit here too – he captures Gerald’s charming but controlling demeanour expertly and his presence adds real intensity and dread to the whole movie.

One issue you may encounter with Gerald’s Game is with the ending, and ultimately, that will depend on your relationship with Stephen King’s endings in general. The final ten minutes of this film feel out of place and, in my opinion, there was a distinctive moment where the movie should have ended, leaving the audience questioning the unknown as opposed to trying to wrap up everything up nicely. Gerald’s Game is 90 minutes of an outstanding movie and 10 minutes of convoluted nonsense; despite it all its hard work, it really fails to stick its landing.

2017 has seen a lot of Stephen King adaptations, but none that are as effective as Gerald’s Game , a quietly disturbing movie that is guaranteed to keep you up that night.

Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★★★★ Movie: ★★★★

Liam Hoofe is a freelance writer and teacher based in Madrid. You can follow him on Twitter   @liamhoofe

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‘Gerald’s Game’ is a great horror film that never goes beyond the surface

Posted by Kt Schaefer | Oct 7, 2017 | Featured , Film , Film Reviews , Reviews | 0 |

‘Gerald’s Game’ is a great horror film that never goes beyond the surface

Gerald’s Game is yet another addition to this year’s bonanza of Stephen King adaptations. It was long thought unfilmable due to its content and the how much of it is spent with just one character. With Netflix producing and Mike Flanagan of Hush fame directing, hopes were high for a good film that would tap into the intricate story of abuse and desperation that riveted readers in the early 90’s.

Gerald’s Game is about Jessie Burlingame ( Carla Gugino ), a woman who is trying to survive a nightmarish scenario. She and her husband Gerald ( Bruce Greenwood ) have taken a secret getaway to their remote lake house for some kinky sex, but after the handcuffs are on and attached to the bedposts, Jessie realizes that the spice has gone out of this little game for her. She demands Gerald release her, but he ignores her request, and just as the ensuing fight reaches fever pitch, Gerald keels over of a heart attack. Trapped and alone in the deep woods, with only a dead body and a hungry stray dog that has gotten into the house, Jessie must find a way to free herself. As night falls, Jessie begins to grow desperate and her mind brings up old memories that she will have to confront if she wants to make it out of the handcuffs.

Nothing about Gerald’s Game would have worked if they hadn’t gotten the right actress, and Carla Gugino is spot on. She is giving it everything she has in this role, displaying so much pain, anxiety, and desperation it’s exhausting just to watch. Her physical acting, especially during the more gruesome parts, is remarkable. There aren’t many of scenes of blood and gore, but the ones they have are well done with practical effects real enough to make you cringe. Most of the film takes place in one room and the camerawork uses this to its advantage by creating a claustrophobic feel with camera positioning, lighting, and a color palette that changes with the mood.

There are so many great things about Mike Flanagan’s Gerald’s Game , but at times it doesn’t seem sure of what it wants to be. It only hints around the darker parts of the story regarding abuse, but doesn’t shy away from the physical violence Jessie puts herself through to escape. There are bold changes from the original book, but it also rushes through plot points to include an epilogue that feels misplaced for the story it’s telling. These choices lessen the impact of Jessie’s predicament at the end of the film, so while Mike Flanagan’s version gets most of the basics on screen, it leaves the soul of King’s story, and a more complex discussion of male abuse, on the cutting room floor.

About The Author

Kt Schaefer

Kt Schaefer

An unrepentant feminist and lifelong nerd, Kt writes about everything from British weird fiction to the latest big budget superhero movie. A Midwestern childhood filled with Star Trek, Batman and classic '60s folk music has lead her down this dark path to the world of writing on the internet. You can find her on Twitter @kt_schaefer, probably tweeting pictures of her animals.

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Um, Gerald's Game Is Super F*cked Up, and You Need to Watch It Right Now

movie review gerald's game

Note: this review is (relatively) spoiler-free, so dig in!

At the end of September 2017, Netflix released an original film called Gerald's Game , based on Stephen King's 1992 novel of the same name. The adaptation promised a pretty straightforward plot: Man and woman go to woods to save their marriage. Man handcuffs woman to bed for kinky sex times. Man dies of heart attack. Madness ensues. You might be asking yourself how a woman chained to a bed makes for a compelling horror movie, but I'm hoping I can adequately peel back the layers and show you that the movie goes way beyond that seemingly basic premise.

1. It's a Simple Concept That's Well-Executed

As I already mentioned, the story itself is pretty basic. That said, there are other elements that add tension to every scene. For one, there's a hungry stray dog that seems adamant about snacking on the very dead Gerald (Bruce Greenwood), while Jessie (Carla Gugino) desperately tries to fend it off from her spot on the bed. Jessie also hallucinates a physical manifestation of her subconscious (which looks exactly like her, except not as sweaty and not as chained to the bed), as well as one of her dead husband. The two interact with Jessie in a sort of "good cop, bad cop" dynamic, helping her figure out how to get free.

In addition to all these elements, there are flashback sequences that help inform Jessie's current state, as well as one terrifying monster that I'll get to in a little bit. All of these aspects combine to make one sincerely tense and gripping film. Yes, it's a film where a woman is chained to a bed for pretty much the entire running time, but not one minute drags. And that's pretty spectacular.

2. It's Chock-Full of Brilliant Performances

One of the things that really helps sell the film is the sheer artistry of Gugino. She offers two incredible performances: one as the real Jessie, who is slowly dying on a bed in lingerie, and the other as hallucination Jessie, who really wants to get her physical body free. There's something about the way Gugino lives the horror that makes her performance so riveting. She seems to be so lost in her character that, in certain moments, you really believe everything she's emoting.

Gugino's performance is supported by the menacing condescension of her smarmy husband, Greenwood, who pulls off the whole "secret douchebag" thing very well. But even the much smaller characters — Jessie's father (Henry Thomas) and the 12-year-old version of Jessie (Chiara Aurelia) — shine in their minimal roles. All of these turns swirl together to make an incredibly believable and powerful story, horror aside.

movie review gerald's game

3. One Aspect of the Film Will Keep You Up at Night

Remember that terrifying monster I mentioned earlier? He's referred to as the "Moonlight Man" during the film, and I promise he'll give you nightmares. During her first night, Jessie hallucinates a large man standing in the corner. He has white skin, a bald head, and hauntingly ghoulish eyes. He's abnormally tall, and his overly long limbs dangle in strange and unsettling ways. As soon as Jessie notices him, he ambles from the shadows in the corner and opens his special box. It's filled with treasures: jewelry and bones and other miscellaneous trinkets.

The Moonlight Man pops up a couple of other times. At one point, Jessie awakens to find he's licking her toes and kicks him off. She comes to believe he's death himself and that he's there to collect her dying soul. I don't want to give away too much else about the Moonlight Man and his part in the plot, but let's just say he's the creature that really stuck with me after watching the film. You're going to be checking the darkest corners of your house for a while, I promise.

4. There's One Especially Gruesome Scene That You Won't Forget

If the slow psychological scares and the horror of the Moonlight Man don't get you, then this one scene will. Again, I don't want to spoil it, but let's just say Jessie's only way to escape is very gruesome and bloody, and it's depicted with brutal and graphic realism. A friend of mine said he literally barfed after watching it. Another confirmed that all of his coworkers were just as disturbed as he was. I'm not too queasy when it comes to things like this, and I definitely wasn't that physically affected, but let's just say it's a lot. There's a treat for every kind of horror fan in Gerald's Game .

5. The Thematic Significance Is Striking and Nuanced

In trying to free herself, Jessie must reckon with the actions that put her in these handcuffs in the first place. This is why we go into flashbacks: to uncover her disturbing past, and to figure out why she married a slightly abusive garbage monster like Gerald. The incredible thing is, each specific recollection gives her information about how she can escape. The more she digs in and processes her own traumas, the closer she gets to freeing herself from the literal shackles that keep her chained to the bed. Once she's truly reconciled with everything that's happened to her, she gets the final piece of the puzzle that will give her freedom.

This kind of thematic payoff is so striking and hard to ignore. While Jessie is literally handcuffed, her emotional journey is so steeped in metaphor that her allegorical story can clearly apply to any victim of trauma. And that chilling epiphany is perhaps what makes Gerald's Game such a great film. It's definitely horror, and it will definitely scare you, but once you scrape off the skin and look at all the tendons underneath (wink wink), you'll find that it's so much more.

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Major spoilers for Gerald's Game .

Gerald's Game , Netflix's new Stephen King movie, is a very unexpected film. Starting as a simple sex-gone-wrong thriller, it turns into supernatural chiller, repressed-memory drama, torture porn horror - and that's before we even get to the jaw-dropping ending.

Based on King's 1992 novel of the same name, on the surface it's a bit different to what you expect from the writer. There's no Maine setting, no child with fantastical powers, no overly sadistic bullies - not even a struggling writer recovering from addiction trying to work through their block. And yet what it does have is a complex, human story underpinning the horror-inflected plot. Pair that with horror maestro Mike Flanagan as director and a far-reaching central performance by Caral Gugino and you've got one of his best movie adaptations.

Related: Gerald's Game: What is Netflix's New Stephen King Movie?

In Gerald's Game , we follow Jessie (Gugino), who is stuck handcuffed to a bed in a remote house after her husband (Bruce Greenwood) has a heart attack mid-way through a bid to spice up their sex life. What follows is her desperate attempts to survive and escape, but also a regression into her mind, with cinematically-minded visions of herself, her husband and her traumatic past coming to light; as it goes, we learn as a twelve-year-old Jessie was, during an eclipse, sexually abused by her father and later tricked into guilty silence, something that unsurprisingly influenced the rest of her life. This isn't just about escaping metal confines - it's about escaping the mind as well.

But what about that ending? Gerald's Game ties itself up with a cautiously happy endnote but does so with a pretty shocking twist and rather dark case of coming to terms with the past.

What Happens To Jessie After Escaping?

Carla Gugino in Gerald's Game

After having an epiphany care of a vision of her younger self, Jessie slits her wrists and uses the lubrication of the blood to escape her handcuffs. She crashes her car escaping the house - with a few more visions along the way - and is eventually rescued by a nearby couple.

So, to the ending. As outlined in her letter to her younger self, following all this, the expected happened - she was taken to a hospital and questioned by police but lied and said she didn't remember any of the horrors experienced in the house. Not that it mattered much - it was determined Gerald died of a heart attack, not her pushing him off the bed - and afterward, his company covered up the sexual elements of the case; essentially, the truth was repressed. Jessie got several skin-grafts for her mangled hand and used the life insurance payout to start a foundation to help victims of child abuse, channeling her self-imagined torture while tied to the bed into something practical and helpful.

Physical horrors aside, Jessie's journey is one of rediscovery and acceptance. She's been repressing what he father did to her - both the sexual abuse itself and his victim-complex cover-up - since she was a child, always knowing it (she objects to Gerald calling himself "Daddy" during sex) yet never truly able to admit it to even those she allegedly trusts. But she's also been fighting to avoid addressing the problems with her marriage; the much older lawyer Gerald is quite evidently a father substitute, and on a more base level she's been hiding the true nature of their fractured relationship from herself for years.

The Eclipse in Gerald's Game

Across the film, all of these thoughts slowly come to the forefront care of creeping visions, the solitude, and the encroaching possibility of death forcing her to face the past. Everything is framed to hinge on the moment of the eclipse - sat on her father's lap was when innocence was lost - with visions hued in its highly-saturated red glow. This is the ground zero of her broken mental state.

Gerald's Game 's ending is thus unflinchingly about addressing and learning from the past. Jessie only escapes by remembering cutting herself accidentally on a glass in the aftermath of the eclipse, and her new life after the handcuffs is built on her using everything to power herself forward - getting past it but also using it. To hammer this home, the film has her address the letter to Mouse (her younger self, retroactively providing the pre-teen hope) and the final shot even shows the 2017 eclipse ending, a neat visual coda to the message.

Of course, there's another side to the story. While most of what Jessie experiences is in her mind, the final minutes reveal something much more skin-crawling.

Joubert in Gerald's Game

Raymond Andrew Joubert Explained

Overnight while tied to the bed, Jessie is visited by a tall, disproportioned figure (played by Carel Struycken, best known as Twin Peaks ' giant). He stands silently in the corner with a bag full of bones and personal items, moving slowly towards her every time she looks away like a night terror she can't awake from. Most of his "backstory" comes from self-suggestion in Jessie's mind; while trying to rationalize him as a trick of the light (or moonbeams) she begins to view him as an embodiment of death. Within this, there is a lurking suggestion there really is something physical here - the dog slowly feasting on Gerald is spooked by his presence and a bloodied footprint is left on the floor. This all comes to a head as she escapes and he's stood right at the end of the top floor corridor; slowly making her way past, she deposits her wedding ring in his bag of trinkets. He's last seen in the body of the film in the back of the car, causing her to crash.

Images of him continue to haunt Jessie after she's escaped, representing how coming to terms with her past and helping others hasn't fully freed her; in a chilling callback to something she thought to herself on the bed, the wedding ring she gave to the figure was never found. And the explanation really is terrifying.

RELATED: Stephen King Teases New Salem’s Lot & The Stand Adaptations

The monster was actually Raymond Andrew Joubert, a very real necrophile-turned-serial killer who suffered from acromegaly, leading to his extreme proportions. He started as a graveyard vandal in Alabama, stealing jewelry from recently buried corpses, then escalated, desecrating bodies and eventually stealing various parts of the anatomy - and at one point went full Ed Gein and "preserved" his family. Joubert came across Jessie seemingly by accident, taking body parts from Gerald (which she assumed to be the actions of the hungry dog). He was finally discovered when he moved to straight-up murder and was caught mid-act.

Jessie meets Joubert in Gerald's Game

While the twist obviously shows that Joubert was real, there's evidently moments where it all was in Jessie's head; he didn't sneak into her apartment every night. Shorthand, anytime Joubert appears in the red light of the eclipse or with supernaturally bright eyes, this is safely in Jessie's head; her mind's taken his image and is using it as an emblem of her fear. The other case where it's an imaginary killer is when Jessie talks with Gerald about him being under the bed - the hand reaching up has to be in her mind. Everything else, however, appears to be real.

It's initially unclear why he spared Jessie. In the letter, she presumes it's because he was reported to favor male victims when it came to mutilation, which in the context of his stalking is all the more unsettling. When she confronts him at his arraignment, however, we learn they may share a strange connection; upon seeing her, he breaks out of his handcuffs and says " you're not real, you're only made of moonlight " - exactly what she thought he was.

Ostensibly this suggests that Joubert didn't kill Jessie because he didn't know there was anything to kill - we already know of his skewed view on the world - but the similar wording connects the two greater. The ending is, of course, framed as Jessie's moral victory and there's no attempt at making Joubert sympathetic, yet them sharing the core line (one he may have picked up from her) makes clear that what we've discovered Jessie's experienced through her life is not an isolated incident. They're both suffering. The dog becomes symbolically important here as it having a collar yet no owner, then later feasting on the dead sees it share traits of both characters - everybody hurts.

But the final line - "you're so much smaller than I remember" - brings us right back to the true focus: Jessie is free. Gerald's Game is a movie exploring how the journey, no matter how torturous, shapes you; and so the ending isn't just cathartic for our character, it's a message of hope for everyone.

Next: Gerald’s Game Review

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Gerald’s Game (2017) Review

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Directed by Mike Flanagan, we review the 2017 Netflix movie Gerald’s Game, which does not contain any significant spoilers. 

A sex game went inconceivably wrong. Rape fantasies. Dark daddy issues. Unsurprisingly, Gerald’s Game is based on a Stephen King novel. 2017 has become such a laborious task to cover everything related to King that a part of me wishes the celebrated author would leave us all alone. Little did I know that his material would creep onto Netflix as an Original. In the case of Gerald’s Game, I am rather happy it did.

Gerald’s Game (2017 Review) and Plot Summary

The premise is not complex or difficult to get your head around. Imagine a marriage needing saving. Your sex-craving husband makes plans to whisk you away to a holiday home in the middle of nowhere. The finest foods are stocked in the fridge, fine wine and expensive champagne are cooly placed on the shelves and the entire house is pristine and clean. All that is required now is for both people involved to muster up enough sexual energy to enjoy each other.

Unfortunately, Gerald ( Bruce Greenwood ) wants to impose a rape fantasy onto his wife, Jessie ( Carla Gugino ) , and to his dismay, she is not into it at all. In the case of Jessie, this is no laughing matter. Her husband collapses from a heart attack, and she is attached to two sturdy bedposts by state of the art handcuffs.

For a story that involves mostly a bedroom, director Mike Flanagan does a sublime job to keep the plot interesting. Gerald’s Game displays more in its package than just a woman trapped in a room.

The movie intricately brings demons to the surface that were unbeknown before her unlucky husband’s heart attack. The plot is astonishingly dark considering at the centre of it is an escape plan. The use of her imagination drives this movie forward with themes that represent the devil and an angel. Good thoughts and bad thoughts. The devil in the form of her husband and the angel is herself.

Her hallucinations form part of Jessie’s fatalistic situation. With the movie toying with her gloom-ridden reality that she is very likely to die, as an audience you become engrossed with her efforts to live off the remaining juice she has left to live. Then you have the flashbacks to her horrific childhood which provides two narrative strings that are equally as interesting.

Is the 2017 movie Gerald’s Game good?

Gerald’s Game is obviously a Stephen King story but it is delivered with such belief and performance from the two leading actors that it is unusually one of his best adaptations. Carla Gugino is essentially doing a solo performance in a bedroom and she has to deliver credibility despite being attached to handcuffs. It is a stern job coupled with Bruce Greenwood, adding some dark sadism to the entire thing. A notable praise is that the premise is not dragged through the mud for hours and it stays within a respectable one hour and forty-five minutes, which just about justifies the story.

If all King movies were delivered like this then I would accept the constant dark themes thrown at us. Gerald’s Game is an adaptation delivered with care and precision with emphasis on good deliverance on dark themes and dialogue. If you are a fan of King’s work then you will undoubtedly enjoy this. If not, then there is also something in this for you.

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The Ending Of Gerald's Game Explained

Jessie states out of window

When "Gerald's Game" hit Netflix in 2017, the internet was abuzz with theories about its plot, its deeper meanings, and especially its ending. Adapted by Mike Flanagan from a seemingly unadaptable Stephen King novel, it starts with as simple a premise as you could possibly get: A woman, Jessie (Carla Gugino), ends up chained to a bed when her husband, Gerald (Bruce Greenwood), drops dead at the worst possible moment. Stranded in the middle of nowhere without another living soul for miles around, she must escape before it's too late.

However, with this being a Stephen King story, things aren't as simple as they seem, and Jessie is beset by ghosts, visions, and traumatic memories. It all culminates in a gruesome finale that had viewers covering their eyes and scratching their heads. If you haven't seen "Gerald's Game," you should probably stop reading now, as we're about to get into major spoiler territory. For everyone who has seen it and still has questions, you're in luck. Let's take a deep dive into the ending of "Gerald's Game," from explanations to Easter eggs and everything in between.

The following article mentions sexual assault. If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

What you need to remember about the plot of Gerald's Game

Jessie and Gerald Burlingame have planned a romantic getaway at a remote lakeside house. On the way they nearly run over a stray dog feasting on some roadkill; Gerald shoos the dog away despite Jessie's pleas to help it. They arrive at the house and Gerald prepares for the weekend by popping a viagra. Jessie, meanwhile, grills some expensive Kobe beef for the mutt, much to her husband's consternation. They make their way to the bedroom, where Gerald wants to spice things up by handcuffing Jessie to the bed. He starts to act out a rape fantasy, which makes his wife increasingly uncomfortable. She kicks him away and demands he remove the handcuffs. Gerald grows indignant, and as they argue he suddenly drops dead from a heart attack, leaving Jessie chained to the bed.

Jessie cries for help, but the only one who shows up is the dog, who starts chewing off pieces of Gerald's body. Suddenly, Gerald's ghost appears to taunt her. Jessie also sees a vision of herself talking her through how to survive, including how to drink water from a glass her husband conveniently left on a shelf above the bed. But as Gerald's ghost keeps reminding her, she's got a limited amount of time left, and there's a freakishly tall ghoul known as the Moonlight Man (Carel Struycken) lurking in the shadows, waiting for her to die so he can collect her wedding ring for his trinket collection.

Past traumas come to the surface for Jessie

As she's arguing with her husband's ghost and her spiritual counterpart, Jessie has flashbacks to a traumatic experience from her childhood, one that she's claimed to have forgotten due to amnesia. One summer when she was 12, Jessie and her family traveled to the lake to watch a solar eclipse. While the rest of the family went out on a boat to witness the event, Jessie stayed on land with her dad, Tom (Henry Thomas). While sharing a viewfinder, Tom starts commenting on how much Jessie — who he calls "Mouse" — has grown up, and reminisces about how she used to sit on his lap as a little girl. As the moon fully covers the sun, Jessie agrees to sit on her dad's lap for old time's sake. Tom tells her to keep staring at the eclipse as he touches himself inappropriately.

Later, Tom finds Jessie in her room, and through mental manipulation convinces her not to tell anyone about what happened, especially her mom, as it would only make things worse between them. At dinner that night, Jessie breaks a glass, cutting her hand wide open. Her father wraps a bandage over her wound, telling her he'd hate to have to take her to the hospital and have them sew her fingers back together. That memory sparks something in Jessie that helps her in her current, dire situation.

What happens at the end of Gerald's Game?

Desperate to escape, Jessie hatches a plan that calls upon her past traumas. She retrieves the water glass and smashes it, lodging a giant shard in the shelf above her head. She cuts her wrist with the glass, using her blood to grease the handcuffs. Peeling the skin back, she frees her hand from the cuff and drags the bed towards the bathroom to find the key. Fully free, she bandages her hand, but passes out from the loss of blood. When she awakens, she finds the Moonlight Man waiting for her, and she willingly gives him her wedding ring. She makes her way to her car and drives away, but the Moonlight Man is waiting for her in the backseat, and he whispers in her ear just one word: "Mouse." Jessie crashes the car into a tree, and is rescued by some friendly locals.

Months later, Jessie writes a letter to her 12-year-old self, detailing how she's started a program to help victims of childhood sex abuse. She also learns that the Moonlight Man wasn't a figment of her imagination, but was actually a serial killer who broke into homes to kill people, rape their corpses, and take souvenirs, including body parts from the men. When she confronts the giant Moonlight Man in court, she sees a vision of her father and tells him that he's much smaller than she remembered.

Why did the Moonlight Man spare Jessie?

Throughout her ordeal, Jessie is terrorized by the Moonlight Man, a shadowy figure who looks a lot like the sort of terrifying image our mind creates when we awaken in the dark and see something lurking in the corner. According to Gerald's ghost, this is Death, and he's come to collect something from her after she dies. Jessie convinces herself that he isn't real, only to discover that he's a madman named Raymond Andrew Joubert who's been killing people in their homes at night and mutilating their corpses. Which begs the question: Why would he spare such easy prey as someone chained to a bed?

As news of Joubert's arrest becomes public, Jessie learns a lot about the man who still haunts her dreams: How his enlarged features are due to a medical condition known as acromegaly, that he started off robbing graves before graduating to murder, and that he liked to take various mementos from his victims, including jewels, bones, and body parts. Perhaps most importantly, she learns that Joubert enjoyed raping and mutilating his male victims, which is why she found Gerald was missing his ears while she remained untouched. Perhaps he spared her because he had no interest in women, or maybe it's because she skipped right to the point of his visit, which is giving him something to remember her by (in this case her wedding ring). 

Was the dog actually the Moonlight Man?

Early on in the film, Jessie offers some expensive meat to a stray dog that Gerald almost kills with his car. She comes to regret that decision, as the dog ends up chewing on her dead husband like a slab of meat and keeps hanging around waiting for her to die so he can feast on her, too. Jessie awakens to find the Moonlight Man licking on her toes, only to discover that it's actually the dog sampling his upcoming meal. Once she escapes the cuffs, she finds most of Gerald's face is missing, and assumes it was chewed off by the dog, only to later learn that the Moonlight Man has taken pieces of her husband's face as souvenirs.

All things considered, was the dog actually the Moonlight Man? Certainly, Jessie and Gerald encountered a real stray on their way to the lake, and Jessie definitely grilled up some delicious Kobe beef for it. So much of what happens in the room while Jessie is chained to the bed can be chalked up to her panicked imagination — Gerald's ghost teasing her about her impending doom, her alter ego encouraging her to stay alive. So, it's definitely possible that she imagined the dog had returned as a way to ignore what was really happening: Joubert was mutilating Gerald's corpse right in front of her.

How the ending of the movie differs from the book

The 1992 novel upon which "Gerald's Game" is based was long thought to be unadaptable, due to the fact that the title character dies early on and the rest of the story takes place entirely in Jessie's head. As Mike Flanagan revealed in an interview with the Independent , a lot of changes were required to make the book cinematic. "It's a stream of consciousness," the filmmaker said of the story. "The trick for us was trying to make that visually interesting. What we came up with was keeping Gerald in the movie by taking that inner monologue and making it an outer monologue."

This is a major departure from the book, in which Jessie isn't visited by her husband's ghost at all, but instead by a variety of women, including a younger version of herself known as "Pumpkin" and a "Goodwife" version of Jessie who encourages her to stay put and wait for help. She's also visited by a vision of Ruth Neary, a college roommate who almost learned the truth of what Jessie's father did to her on the lake that summer. Once Jessie is free in the book, she writes to the real Ruth, telling her about her past trauma and how it got her through her near-fatal dilemma. Since Ruth isn't in the film, Flanagan has Jessie write the letter to her younger self as an apology.

How does Gerald's Game connect to other Stephen King stories?

If you look closely enough, you'll find all kinds of connections between "Gerald's Game" and other Stephen King stories . The most obvious parallel is with "Dolores Claiborne," another stream-of-consciousness novel that King published in 1992 (and was turned into a 1995 movie starring Kathy Bates and Jennifer Jason Leigh). Like "Gerald's Game," that book's plot hinges on a teenage girl whose father sexually assaulted her during a solar eclipse, and the repercussions that trauma has on her as an adult. Their connection makes total sense when you learn that King originally intended to publish both stories as one novel, which was going to be titled "In the Path of the Eclipse."

The other clear comparison is with "Cujo," King's 1981 novel about a rabid dog terrorizing the residents of Castle Rock, Maine (also turned into a movie in 1983). Although not carrying rabies, the mutt in "Gerald's Game" does terrify Jessie with its ravenous hunger. Aside from that, you can pick up on little lines of dialogue that relate to other King works, most notably his epic series "The Dark Tower." When Gerald's ghost tells Jessie, "Everything dies. All things serve the beam," the beam he's referring to is one of the metaphysical girders that holds up the Dark Tower in that sprawling story.

What the ending of Gerald's Game means

During her long night fighting off death, Jessie is confronted by two warring visions — one of her dead husband telling her she'll never make it, and one of an alter ego encouraging her to survive. As they argue with her and with each other, details begin to emerge about Jessie's past that points to a pattern of behavior on her part: She traps herself in metaphorical prisons because she feels she deserves it, and that's led to her being trapped in a literal one.

When Jessie's father molested her, she convinced herself that she was responsible, which is why she was afraid to tell anyone what happened. Keeping that trauma suppressed caused her to marry an older man who she was always desperate to please, just as she was desperate to please her dad. It's little wonder she allowed Gerald to put the handcuffs on her, despite every instinct telling her not to. The only way she can free herself is to confront her past and finally deal with it. In this way, "Gerald's Game" is a metaphor for how trauma can ruin our lives if we allow it to define us. The ending is all about Jessie coming to this realization.

Why does Jessie confront the Moonlight Man in court?

The other figure who haunts Jessie is the Moonlight Man, who turns out to be both a literal and metaphorical threat to her. Literal in that he's a deranged lunatic who's mutilating her husband's dead body, and metaphorical in that even after she escapes the lakeside house, he still haunts Jessie's dreams and she struggles to determine whether he's real or not. She's particularly disturbed that the police can't find her wedding ring, which she gave to the Moonlight Man in order to avoid his wrath. It all seems to make sense when she learns that he's a living serial killer who, for one reason or another, decided to spare her life, but that doesn't make it any easier to sleep at night. In order to do that, she'll have to confront him face to face.

In the last scene of "Gerald's Game," Jessie goes to the court where Joubert has been arraigned. When she approaches him despite the protestations of the bailiffs, she sees not the Moonlight Man, but her father in shackles and a prison uniform. She looks the giant man up and down and says, "You're so much smaller than I remember." She doesn't mean this literally, but figuratively, as she's built her father into a huge bad guy who dominates her life. It's not until she faces her trauma head-on that she's able to see it for what it is and finally move on with her life.

Why the ending is considered controversial

Ever since it was first published in 1992, the ending of "Gerald's Game" has sparked debate amongst the most devoted of King's readers. The issue stems from the character of the Moonlight Man, referred to in the novel as the Space Cowboy, and the revelation of his true identity in a letter Jessie writes to her college friend Ruth (turned into a letter to her younger self in the film). James Smythe summarized this contention in a 2014 review for The Guardian , part of a longer reassessment of King's work. "The Space Cowboy — a mixture of Jessie's imagination and a real serial killer — is pretty much the strongest example of deus ex machina in his entire oeuvre," Smythe wrote. "The character exists solely to give Jessie the impetus to free herself, and it pretty much ruins the ending." 

In Smythe's view, the introduction of the mythical monster spoils what is essentially a tightly-focused inner conflict. "It's a book about a scared woman coming to terms with who she is, what's been done to her, and finding the strength to overcome," he explains. "The Space Cowboy threatens to undo that." Many of these same criticisms carried over into the film adaptation, which is faithful to the book almost to a fault. Would the ending have been more impactful if Jessie had confronted her past and finally processed her trauma without the addition of a giant, semi-supernatural killer? We'll never know.

What did critics say about the ending?

Reviews for "Gerald's Game" were generally positive, with most critics praising Flanagan's ability to make an unadaptable book work cinematically. Though they took great pains to avoid spoiling it, some reviewers couldn't help but comment on the film's climax. "Any diehard King fan will tell you that the author's biggest problem is endings," wrote Brian Tallerico of RogerEbert.com . "His ending for 'Gerald's Game' is atrocious, and you'd be better off turning this off about ten minutes before the credits and just imagining what happens. I'll say this –he [Flanagan] does about as good a job with King's ending as I think he possibly could have, even finding a neat visual trick in the closing scenes that helps tie Jessie's story together thematically."

Eric Kohn of Indiewire had similar problems with Flanagan's fealty to King's source material. "King's fans revere his stories as sacrosanct and so does he," Kohn explained. "So when the movie arrives at a phenomenal, breakneck climax, and then keeps going with a totally implausible twist, it's adhering to the unwritten rule: No matter who's driving, everyone must bow to the King." Though his review was on the whole negative, Alan Scherstuhl of The Village Voice did praise Flanagan's handling of Jessie' escape, writing: "The finale is especially effective, grisly enough that I looked away but thrilling enough that I looked back."

What has the cast and crew of Gerald's Game said about the ending?

In an interview with Bloody Disgusting , Mike Flanagan acknowledged that the book's ending was controversial amongst King fans, though he's always been a fan of it himself. "It was something when I read the book that I loved," he revealed. "I know it was polarizing with fans of the book, so the people that hated that epilogue in the book are going to hate it in the movie." He went on to say that he was sure the ending of the film would be a "lightning rod" among viewers, but he was determined to remain as faithful to the source material as possible. "That's what happened in the book," he said. "There was never a time where it felt right to do the film without that ending, for better or worse."

Flanagan expanded upon his feelings about the ending in an interview with  GQ  and why he felt it necessary to include it in the movie. He explained that he wanted the Moonlight Man to be seen as "a combination of all of the sickness and all of the diseased maleness that Jessie's been victim to throughout her life, all rolled up into the one tumorous character she could actually confront head-on." He also said that Jessie had "earned that symmetry, to be able to turn around and take a decisive, emotional victory over all of this," and that he knew the finale would likely divide opinion. "I expected it to be polarizing," he said, adding, "I took it as a badge of honor that we must have adapted the book faithfully enough that we're sharing the same complaints."

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COMMENTS

  1. Gerald's Game movie review & film summary (2017)

    Mike Flanagan reportedly carried around a copy of "Gerald's Game" to meetings because it was the Stephen King book he dreamed of adapting since he was a teenager. This is arguably a sign of insanity. Not only is it considered one of King's lesser works, but it takes place almost entirely in inner monologue and memory, with its only major character handcuffed to a bed.

  2. Gerald's Game

    Gerald's Game is a film that looks like it was storyboarded, and that those storyboards were followed in every detail. Rated: 3.5/4 Feb 23, 2022 Full Review Read all reviews Audience Reviews

  3. Netflix's Gerald's Game is a graceful, mold-breaking Stephen King

    Gerald's Game is a timely, feminist locked-room horror movie. One of the best things about this movie is its smallness. Almost the entirety of the film takes place in a single room — the ...

  4. Gerald's Game Review

    Gerald's Game Review 50,000,000 shades darker. By ... Fortunately, Mike Flanagan is evolving into an incredibly classy filmmaker. Gerald's Game is a malignant escape room movie, a sort of ...

  5. Gerald's Game

    Flanagan's direction is superb. Gerald's Game is a film that looks like it was storyboarded, and that those storyboards were followed in every detail. Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4 | Feb 23 ...

  6. 'Gerald's Game' Review

    Film Review: 'Gerald's Game'. Carla Gugino gives a tour-de-force performance in an arresting psychological thriller based on Stephen King's 1992 novel. The Year of Stephen King continues ...

  7. Gerald's Game (2017)

    Gerald's Game: Directed by Mike Flanagan. With Carla Gugino, Bruce Greenwood, Chiara Aurelia, Carel Struycken. A couple tries to spice up their marriage in a remote lake house. After the husband dies unexpectedly, the wife is left handcuffed to their bed frame and must fight to survive and break free.

  8. Gerald's Game (film)

    Gerald's Game is a 2017 American psychological horror thriller film directed and edited by Mike Flanagan, and screenplay written by Flanagan with Jeff Howard.It is based on Stephen King's 1992 novel of the same name, long thought to be unfilmable. The film stars Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood as a married couple who arrive at an isolated house for a holiday.

  9. Gerald's Game Movie Review

    Gerald's Game generates horror more through suggestion that onscreen imagery for much of its runtime, but be warned: when things do get explicit, the movie becomes rather graphic and very disturbing, very quickly. While it falls to Gugino and Greenwood to handle these gruesome moments in the film's present-day, the flashbacks to Jessie's past ...

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    Generally Favorable Based on 12 Critic Reviews. 77. 83% Positive 10 Reviews. 17% Mixed 2 Reviews. 0% Negative 0 Reviews. All Reviews; ... Gerald's Game is a symphony of suspense and scares, spiked with just the right amount of gruesome gore. ... Gerald's Game is that type of movie that needs not more than 30-40 minutes. This should have been ...

  11. Gerald's Game Review

    Reviews Gerald's Game Review. ... Gerald's Game, by contrast, is a movie akin to his best thrillers, including Oculus and Hush, where paranoia creeps under the skin, and reality blurs.

  12. Gerald's Game Movie Review

    Gerald's Game is a tight thriller with a strong psychological core. Other performances, including those of Bruce Greenwood, Henry Thomas, and a very expressive dog, are first-rate as well. Still, there are moments that are hard to watch for any but horror fans. No kids.

  13. Netflix's Gerald's Game Review: An Unrelenting Sprint Into Madness

    Gerald's Game is a horrifying, fast movie with a killer (sorry) premise and a couple of all-timer performances. It 's bigger; this is better. The salient details are these: Jessie (Carla Gugino ...

  14. Gerald's Game review: Stephen King adaptation's a lifeless melodrama

    Photo: Netflix. It's hard to think of an unfilmable Stephen King story with a higher degree of difficulty than Gerald's Game. The original 1992 novel is a radical variation on erotic thriller ...

  15. Movie Review

    Gerald's Game, 2017. Directed by Mike Flanagan. Starring Carla Gugino, Bruce Greenwood, Chiara Aurelia, Henry Thomas, Kate Siegel, and Carel Struycken. SYNOPSIS: A middle-aged couple's weekend ...

  16. 'Gerald's Game' is a great horror film that never goes beyond the surface

    Gerald's Game is yet another addition to this year's bonanza of Stephen King adaptations.It was long thought unfilmable due to its content and the how much of it is spent with just one character. With Netflix producing and Mike Flanagan of Hush fame directing, hopes were high for a good film that would tap into the intricate story of abuse and desperation that riveted readers in the early ...

  17. Gerald's Game Netflix Horror Movie Review

    Note: this review is (relatively) spoiler-free, so dig in! At the end of September 2017, Netflix released an original film called Gerald's Game, based on Stephen King's 1992 novel of the same name ...

  18. Gerald's Game: Differences Between The Book & Movie

    In Gerald's Game, Jessie's flashbacks of the family lake house eventually reveal that she was also sexually abused by her father, who then mentally manipulated her into keeping quiet. The 1963 summer eclipse that Jessie is abused during is the same eclipse witnessed by Dolores on the other side of the lake the day she pushes her husband into a ...

  19. Gerald's Game Ending Explained

    Gerald's Game is a movie exploring how the journey, no matter how torturous, ... it's a message of hope for everyone. Next: Gerald's Game Review. Key Release Dates. Gerald's Game. Release Date: 2017-09-29. Movies. SR Originals. Gerald's Game (2017) Your changes have been saved. Email Is sent. close. Please verify your email address.

  20. Gerald's Game (2017) Review

    Unsurprisingly, Gerald's Game is based on a Stephen King novel. 2017 has become such a laborious task to cover everything related to King that a part of me wishes the celebrated author would leave us all alone. Little did I know that his material would creep onto Netflix as an Original. In the case of Gerald's Game, I am rather happy it did.

  21. Movie Review: 'Gerald's Game' (2017)

    While the Netflix original is based on the Stephen King novel, Gerald's Game makes the most out of a simple premise. Unlike most Stephen King works, the supernatural is absent from Gerald's Game. Instead, this film relies more on psychological scares - fear of being trapped in an isolated room, fear of possibly dying, fear of possible intruders.

  22. Watch Gerald's Game

    When her husband's sex game goes wrong, Jessie -- handcuffed to a bed in a remote lake house -- faces warped visions, dark secrets and a dire choice. Watch trailers & learn more.

  23. The Ending Of Gerald's Game Explained

    Netflix. Jessie and Gerald Burlingame have planned a romantic getaway at a remote lakeside house. On the way they nearly run over a stray dog feasting on some roadkill; Gerald shoos the dog away ...