Since its publication in 1992, Gerald’s Game has had a reputation for being an “unadaptable” book. The suspenseful thriller by Stephen King tells the story of a woman handcuffed to a bed in a remote cabin after her husband dies during a kinky sex game, and as it’s set in a small space, the story can get unrelentingly dark, minimalistic, and claustrophobic. As such, a Gerald’s Game adaptation just never seemed possible. Luckily for fans, though, that’s about to change. Here’s what you need to know about the Gerald’s Game movie before it hits Netflix on September 29.
1. The film features a small but incredible cast.
Although it’s smaller in scope than many of King’s most popular books, Gerald’s Game is an intensely character-driven narrative. Actress Carla Gugino (Spy Kids, Watchmen) stars as Jessie Burlingame, who is forced to fight for survival after the accidental death of her husband, Gerald (Bruce Greenwood of Star Trek fame). The cast also features Carel Struycken, Henry Thomas, and Kate Siegel. Actress Chiara Aurelia appears as the younger version of Jessie.
2. Director Mike Flanagan has wanted to adapt it for years.
Gerald’s Game is a passion project for Flanagan, who rose to fame due to the success of horror thrillers Oculus, Ouija: Origin of Evil, and 2016’s Hush. In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Flanagan revealed that he’s wanted to adapt the book for years:
“Reading [Gerald’s Game] was such a visceral experience, I really yearned for it to exist as a film. I used to carry a copy of the book to general meetings when I first moved to LA, just in case someone would ask me what my dream project was. It took me years to crack it, and even longer to get permission to work on a screenplay. When I began production on the film last fall, it occurred to me that I’d been thinking about that particular film for literally half of my life.”
3. King strongly influenced Flanagan as a storyteller.
In addition to wanting to adapt Gerald’s Game for years, Flanagan revealed in a recent interview that King strongly influenced his work as a storyteller:
“Through his attention to character, his careful narrative structure, and his emotional authenticity, [King] shaped my entire understanding of storytelling. I can still see that influence in everything I do.”
Staying faithful to the source material was important to Flanagan, and his emotional connection to King’s work helped to inform his experience adapting Gerald’s Game. Flanagan added:
“When you grow up reading King, you want to protect the experience you had with his work. To fail the material is to dishonor that experience, and for a lot of us that isn’t an option.”
4. King thinks the film is “terrific.”
King is enjoying a major renaissance right now thanks to the big screen adaptations of The Dark Tower and It, plus the television releases of Mr. Mercedes and The Mist. The Gerald’s Game movie is the latest in a string of exciting releases, and the Master of Horror is a big fan of it. He took to Twitter earlier this year to share his praise, calling the film “horrifying, hypnotic, terrific” and assuring fans, “It’s gonna freak you out.”
Flanagan was thrilled with King’s reaction, telling Entertainment Weekly he had a “fanboy giddiness” after hearing the news.
5. The critics can’t stop raving about it.
Early reviews are in, and critics are giving Gerald’s Game a thumbs-up. AV Club calls it “potent, horrific, and oddly cathartic,” and The Verge declares that “Gerald’s Game turns one of Stephen King’s worst books into one of his best movies.”
For her turn as the trapped and tortured Jessie, Gugino gets especially high marks. IndieWire calls her performance “first-rate,” and The Daily Dot says it’s “stunning and raw.” Collider adds, “[Gugino has] deserved a meaty part like this for decades, and now that she’s got one, she bares her teeth and digs in, excavating Jessie with nuance or dramatic flourish, depending on what the moment calls for.”
Do you plan to watch Gerald’s Game? Share in the comments!