Stephen King Marathon: “Gerald’s Game” (Netflix)

Well, it took some time, but I finally got around to watching Netflix’s movie adaptation of “Gerald’s Game.” I will admit upfront that I avoided watching what I consider the goriest part of the book redone in live action for the sake of my stomach, but beyond that what I saw was a relatively accurate adaptation. So, did I like it? Well, yes and no.

The plot isn’t too difficult to sum up since it’s essentially the same as the book’s. Jessie and Gerald Burlingame head to their remote lakeside cabin for a day of romance and sex. But after getting too into his game involving handcuffing Jessie to their bed, Gerald suffers a heart attack and dies. Now Jessie must find a way out of her predicament, all while dealing with a ravenous dog and both some past and present trauma along the way.

As far as what I liked, I commend Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood for their performances. As this version’s embodiment of the voices in Jessie’s head, they were able go beyond their roles as Jessie and Gerald and be even more compelling. However, I did feel they purposely made Gerald…nicer in this? He was still a bit of a dick for the small amount of screen time he had, but he and Jessie seemed to have a little more affection for each other than what I got out of the book. I also adored the dog they chose, even if it did seem a lot less mangy than the one described in the book. Both my husband and I also enjoyed the editing techniques that were used to bring some of Jessie’s memories of her father into the present. We both kind of wished that the flashbacks had been incorporated more often in this manner.

But like with the book, I had some issues. Once again, that twist is showcased here and while it’s executed creepily well, it still felt like a lousy conclusion to the story. Also, the movie itself felt slightly padded, though not nearly as egregiously as the book was. However, at the same time, I felt a few parts were almost rushed. Specific examples I can think of would be those flashbacks, because the book fleshed out Jessie’s family life to make you understand her past trauma even more. In this, it cuts directly to the incident and a brief bit of aftermath. While it’s still scummy and feels like something that could happen in real life, it didn’t resonate as much with me this time around.

For me, “Gerald’s Game” is a decent film based on a decent book. It’s pretty well-acted and is at least faithful to the source material (for better and for worse). Plus, thankfully, it’s quicker to get through compared to the book (for me anyway). I can at least give kudos to the director for keeping this one under two hours. And much like the book, if you’re looking for a Stephen King story that is less supernatural and more “realistic,” this might be for you.

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