“Gerald’s Game”: A Bad Book That Makes for a Good Movie

gerald's game“Gerald’s Game” is directed by Mike Flanagan and stars Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood.  The film is adapted from the Stephen King novel that goes by the same title.  This film is about Jesse and Gerald Burlingame, who are retreating to their lake house that is very isolated from any human beings.  The two had a plan to try and spice up their love life and struggling marriage by going on this mini getaway.  Things quickly go awry, as Gerald has a heart attack and dies unexpectedly after he has handcuffed Jesse to the bed, and from there, that is when things start to get interesting.  

This is a novel that is extremely difficult to adapt into a film, mainly because it takes place almost exclusively in one location and has one major character.  It is really more about the thoughts going on inside Jesse’s head, rather than a ton of actual character to character dialogue.  Many people would agree that “Gerald’s Game” is one of Stephen King’s worst books, but I would argue that Mike Flanagan took it, and made it one the best King movies.  

The Good

I’ll started off by saying that I thought this film was quite intense throughout, and I was constantly intrigued.  I think Greenwood, and mainly Gugino, give two great performances and are huge reasons why “Gerald’s Game” worked for me.  I don’t think that either role was an easy one to play, and both of them excelled as Gerald and Jesse.  

This film deals mostly with psychological horror, but there are some extremely gruesome and gory scenes that are still in my head long after watching it.  Throughout much of the film, Jesse is hallucinating as she has been deprived of water and handcuffed to the bed posts for quite some time.  We get a look into her world as she sees it and some of the inner demons she is battling, and her head is not a place that anyone would want to be.  We also learn of some events that had happened in her past, which makes us understand why she is such a timid and passive wife to her much older husband.

“Gerald’s Game” also does a fantastic job of foreshadowing certain events.  This is something I especially appreciate in books and movies.  I love that ‘a-ha’ moment in your head when you see something unfolding and realize why something seemingly so unimportant at the time comes back and plays a vital role in the story, and this happens on multiple occasions throughout the film.  

Another thing I loved were the themes that were portrayed by different characters in the story.  Inner Gerald, inner Jesse, and the dog all represent different feelings and emotions.  I think the genius work of King’s is very evident here, but I can see why it wasn’t quite as appreciated in a book as opposed to in a movie.  

The Bad

There aren’t a whole lot of things that I had a major gripe with in this movie.  The one glaring hole, that I don’t even think is something that can be argued, is that the ending is horrible.  The last ten minutes of the movie should not have even been included.  It would have been much better if Flanagan had decided to let you use your own imagination, rather than use the garbage ending that King was torn apart for in the book.  However, like I said, this was the only big problem for me.  There were a couple other miniscule details that I thought did not make a ton of sense, but again, I do not want to spoil anything.  


Seeing as this film was a Netflix original, I was not too sure what to expect, and I certainly didn’t have lofty expectations.  Regardless, “Gerald’s Game” surprised me and was quite the solid film.  Carla Gugino really steals the show and brings this one home for director Mike Flanagan.  This movie is on Netflix, and so long as you already are a member, it’s not going to cost you anything to watch it.  Therefore, I highly recommend that you do.  


“Gerald’s Game” is available on Netflix

What did you think of “Gerald’s Game”?  Comment below with your thoughts.

One thought on ““Gerald’s Game”: A Bad Book That Makes for a Good Movie

  1. My wrist ached for a week in sympathy after “that” scene. I always thought the book was rather well done, disturbing in a way that few of his other books bothered me, probably because the scenario is fairly realistic and there is little or no supernatural villain. A very well-done and viscerally charged film.

    Liked by 1 person

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