Based on the Stephen King book Netflix delivers Gerald’s Game which is among the first of King’s books to get produced specifically for the streaming behemoth. Producing a King book can be quite an expensive endeavor considering the demands and ambitions of some of his stories. They were smart to pick this one as it takes place mainly in a bedroom and isn’t super heavy on effects like the giant failure that was The Dark Tower.
The story centers around a couple who are trying to spice things up a bit in their life (and in the bedroom) so they head off to their secluded vacation home for a romantic weekend. Kinky activities ensue and the wife (played by the excellent Carla Gugino) gets handcuffed to the bed. Unfortunately for her, her husband Gerald (Bruce Greenwood) has a heart attack and dies on the spot. This would be a terrible enough situation with just that alone until she discovers that the bed is impossible to break the handcuffs free from and noone will be back to tend to the house for a week or so. Oh, and then there’s the starving dog…
While the premise plays out pretty well in the book (it’s not known to be one of King’s masterpieces), the movie falls a bit flat in the thrilling department. There was a deeper sense of struggle, desperation and danger in the original paper version, more surrealism too through the wife’s delirium. Here, you get a sense of mild danger but the stakes never seem quite threatening enough. Even the part with the dog comes off underwhelming in terms of tension when the dog is eating which could’ve been much more interesting and brutal; a missed moment overall.
Gugino is passionate and committed to the part although she should’ve been unleashed more emotionally. She felt more muted than she should’ve been from a directing standpoint. Greenwood as her twisted husband was average but not very diverse. Very one note in delivery when he could’ve been much more menacing but again, the film seemed to miss opportunities for the sake of being safe and “main-streamy”.
It’s an ok adaptation and an average film. It’s a shame they didn’t push the envelope, they have the ability to do that on Netflix but instead they made the film like it was going to air on CBS.
reviewed by Sean McKnight