(US - 2017)
Directed by Mike Flanagan. Written by Mike Flanagan and Jeff Howard. Cast: Carla Gugino, Bruce Greenwood, Henry Thomas, Chiara Aurelia, Kate Siegel, Carel Struycken. (Unrated, 103 mins)
Based on Stephen King's 1992 novel of the same name, the Netflix Original film GERALD'S GAME comes at a particularly zeitgeisty moment in pop culture: Andy Muschietti's IT, from King's 1986 novel, is a bona fide blockbuster and the biggest horror hit in years, and with its themes of sexual abuse and toxic masculinity, GERALD's GAME is a film practically tailor-made for the era of the woke thinkpiece. It's probably taken this long for Gerald's Game to be made into a movie because it's usually cited as one of King's less filmable works, though director/co-writer Mike Flanagan, one of horror's most promising voices of the last decade (OCULUS, HUSH, OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL, and still-shelved BEFORE I WAKE), gives it his best shot. Gerald's Game was the first novel in what could retroactively be termed King's "woke" phase. It was followed the same year by the acclaimed Dolores Claiborne (made into a movie in 1995) and the middling Rose Madder in 1995 (not yet adapted for the big or small screen, and probably even less filmable than Gerald's Game). GERALD'S GAME works best when it stays focused in the here and now, with its heroine in an increasingly doomed situation. Fatigue sets in and her mind starts playing tricks on her. She begins hallucinating manifestations of long-suppressed traumas of her past that have influenced every decision she's ever made. She summons a degree of inner resolve she never thought possible and King believes in her, and fortunately for Flanagan, he has a game lead actress giving it everything she's got in what should be the role of her career.