survival

31 Days of Halloween: Review: ‘Gerald’s Game’ another excellent Stephen King adaptation

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Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood star in Netflix’s adaptation of Stephen King’s “Gerald’s Game.”

Leave it to Stephen King to find a way to make handcuffs in the bedroom not sexy.

That’s the case with his smaller known tale of matrimonial terror, Gerald’s Game. Obviously the 1992 novel has been around a while, but for most of its existence many have considered it unfilmable. Well thanks to Netflix, that’s now a concern of the past.

As of September 29th, the fearless streaming service has released their adaptation of King’s novel. Now King isn’t known for grounded storytelling; rather, he’s adored for his disturbed characters and darkly twisted imagination. On those fronts, Gerald’s Game is a true winner.

The setup is simple yet unsettling. Jessie (Carla Gugino) and her husband Gerald (Bruce Greenwood) attempt to save their troubled marriage with a weekend getaway at a reclusive lake house. That’s where Gerald handcuffs his wife to the bed as a freaky approach to spicing up their limp romance.

In vintage King methodology, Gerald suffers a heart attack and dies before un-cuffing Jessie from the headboard (of course he couldn’t use fuzzy cuffs because those break too easy). It’s a nightmarish scenario that immediately had me contemplating what I’d do in the same situation, heaven forbid.

Almost immediately (and often in eye-rolling fashion) the odds start building against Jessie. A starving, feral dog wanders into the lake house via a door the couple inexplicably leaves open and begins feasting on her husband’s corpse. She’s also frequented by a tall, gangly vision of a man who may or may not be a hallucination brought on by Jessie’s intensifying dehydration and mania.

Most of Gerald’s Game centers around Jessie speaking to herself in the bed. To be more accurate, she’s speaking to aspects of herself represented by ghostly manifestations of herself and Gerald.

With so few characters populating its story, Gerald’s Game rides or dies with its lead performances and thankfully Gugino and Greenwood came to play (see what I did there?). Both commit to the various versions of their characters and the way the two volley philosophies of life and death back and forth is so hypnotic that it alone sustains most of the film’s near-two hour runtime.

Gerald’s Game is at its most disturbing when it’s exploring Jessie’s traumatizing past via artsy flashbacks. This is also when the film is at its most compelling as Jessie is forced to finally acknowledge and confront her deepest, darkest secrets. At times Mike Flanagan’s (Oculus, Hush, Ouija: Origin of Evil) film feels more like a brooding coming of age movie than a straight horror thriller.

🎃🎃🎃 1/2 (out of four)


Director: Mike Flanagan

Starring: Carla Gugino, Bruce Greendwood

Rated: TV-MA

Year: 2017

Did you all get a chance to check out Gerald’s Game on Netflix? If so, what did you think? Is it worth the hype? Let me know in the comments below!

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Review: Hollow script can’t keep ’47 Meters Down’ afloat

Director: Johannes Roberts

Starring: Mandy Moore, Claire Holt, Matthew Modine

Synopsis: Two sisters vacationing in Mexico are trapped in a shark cage at the bottom of the ocean. With less than an hour of oxygen left and great white sharks circling nearby, they must fight to survive (IMDb).

Rating: PG-13

Year: 2017

It seems every year or so we get a shark-based survival thriller. Last year Blake Lively was stranded just off shore by a Great White in The Shallows. This year Mandy Moore and Claire Holt are stranded at the bottom of the ocean. 47 Meters Down to be precise. Though despite the titular depth, this film’s script feels rather shallow.

Moore and Holt play sisters vacationing in Mexico after Moore’s boyfriend apparently left her for being “boring.” It’s here that younger sister Holt gets the bright idea that the two should go cage diving with total strangers whom they met the night before at a party as a way to make Stuart (that’s Moore’s ex-boyfriend) jealous. Take that, Stuart!

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It’s become a rule at this point: B-list thrillers must feature stupid people making stupid decisions. 47 Meters Down happily obliges. Actually, it’s borderline offensive how idiotic these ladies are. Neither of them point out how dangerous the whole situation is, even after something like, oh I don’t know, blatantly acknowledging the poor condition of the diving cage as well as the illegal chumming of the water that the men of the “Sea Esta” engage in.

When Moore does eventually begin to have second thoughts, Holt snaps her back to party girl mode simply by reminding her how totally jealous Stuart will be once he sees the pictures of them underwater with real sharks. That’s how shallow and cliché the catalyst that sets this plot into motion is. Ugh.

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As for the two handsome strangers who entice the ladies out to sea, they are not given names up to this point. They are only referred to as “the guys” by one of the sisters as a part of a throwaway comment. Even the captain of the ship (Matthew Modine) is introduced as “Captain.” Not Captain Taylor or Taylor, just “Captain.”

We learn so little about this trio of men during the course of the film that I was under the assumption that the filmmakers were intentionally withholding information for the purpose of revealing some shady intentions during an obligatory third act twist. Nope. The script simply did not call for any background development.

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The problem with not maturing your characters, especially in a thriller like this, is that your audience will be emotionally detached once the true horror starts biting down. Unfortunately, this was my experience with 47 Meters Down. There was so little to these characters that I felt isolated from and uninterested in what was happening to them.

In the end, that’s the true horror of 47 Meters Down. The script is so light on development that the venture feels like a waste of time in a world of films like The Shallows. Even sitting at the bottom of the ocean whilst consumed by darkness and running dangerously low on oxygen, Moore and Holt still find time to discuss Stuart. It’s script details (or lack there of) like that which had me rooting for the sharks.

Grade: D

What did you all think of 47 Meters Down? Are you looking forward to seeing it during your Fourth of July break? Let us know in the comments down below!