Gerald’s Game: The Binding Nature Of Love

Hello! I know it has been a moment since my last post, but here we are! I am sure you were all waiting with bated breath! Today we are looking at both a Mike Flanagan film AND a personal favorite of mine! How exciting! Now, the film does dive into trauma and assault, so if you decide to watch, please be aware. As always, I will try my best to avoid massive spoilers, but sometimes a few small details slip through! Now, let us continue!

Does the monster under your bed attack while you are sleeping, or just when you are awake? Mike Flanagan, the creator of the Netflix smash hits The Haunting Of Hill House and The Haunting Of Bly Manor, gifted this exceptional adaptation of this film in 2017. He took on the roles of director and co-writer with Jeff Howard. The duo has worked together on multiple projects before and since, including Oculus and Midnight Mass. The source material for Gerald’s Game is a novel written by practically unknown novelist Stephen King. It’s okay if you have never heard of him. He has only written about 65 novels, inspired hundreds of film adaptations, over 200 short stories, and won 13 Bram Stoker awards for fiction and non-fiction. No big deal. Gerald’s Game marks the first time King and Flanagan have worked together, and we will get to that project when we get to it! Gerald’s Game was also said to be unfilmable, but with some Flana-magic, the horrifying vision is brought to life with beauty and terror meeting in the middle. 

Carla Gugino takes center stage as Jessie, the subservient, mousey wife to Bruce Greenwood’s Gerald. The oh-so-happy couple has decided to take a little getaway to their lakeside home to work on their intimacy issues. Gerald has planned a romantic few days for them, and, without precaution to his surroundings, he pops his little blue pill. Jessie slips into her new nightwear. The game is about to begin when Gerald introduces military-grade handcuffs into the mix, locking his wife’s hands to the solid wood bedpost. With the mechanical clicks of the cuff tightening around Jessie’s wrists, Gerald’s game officially begins. 

But this game is much too rough for Jessie’s liking. Gerald takes on the persona of a predator with an appetite for dominance. Jessie begins to object, kicking and screaming, and in a twisted yet miraculous moment of karma, Gerald has a heart attack and dies. Jessie is trapped by the binds placed by Gerald, with no easy way to escape. No neighbors. No phone. No food. Just her, a ferocious dog, and her own thoughts. One thought is embodied by Gerald, wanting her to stay and perish. The other is a projection of herself, pushing her to survive. The two figments ultimately push her deep into the past as she remembers a long-forgotten truth about her childhood. With everything mounted against her, how can Jessie survive the purgatory she has been put in? 

An isolated horror/thriller where the protagonist speaks to her own imagination? How could that be appealing to anyone? I will always be the first to say that there are moments of great horror, some of which still give me the chills. Underneath each layer of fear, however, there lays the message of resilience and self-preservation in the face of great danger. While Jessie faces outside forces throughout, it is the ones so close to home that leave bite marks. Our wounds become infected when proper care is ignored, and reopening each seems to be the only way to dispel the lasting pain properly. That is the biggest takeaway of the story. 

I have endured countless viewings and still find every aspect to be true strokes of genius from the kings of the horror genre. The clever little easter eggs and Flanagan regulars still excite me when present on the screen. I would even consider the original 1992 novel to be one of King’s best works. An intimate, claustrophobic look at the lasting effects of trauma along with its improper treatment. What more could I ask for? Have a great rest of your night, and maybe don’t be a terrible person!

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