Plot: Gerald (Bruce Greenwood) and his wife Jessie (Carla Gugino) are headed out for a weekend getaway, in which they plan to add some spice to their sex life and recharge their romantic batteries. After a jarring encounter with a stray dog on the road, Jessie then accidentally feeds the dog some prime Kobe beef, which upsets Gerald a little, but his mood is too amorous to stay shaken. Soon the two venture to the bedroom, where Gerald pops his little blue pill, then reveals the handcuffs he brought along to kick up the sexual adventure a little. She wants to please her husband, but once she is shackled to the bed and Gerald takes a more dominant tone, her mind is flooded with negative vibes and she panics. Before he can unlock her restraints, Gerald suffers a heart attack and dies, slumping down on top of her. Now she is chained to the bed, in the middle of nowhere, and she’s haunted by visions, hallucinations of herself, Gerald, her past, and something even darker…
Entertainment Value: Based on the novel by Stephen King, Gerald’s Game has a simple premise that takes some dark, tense turns. This movie version feels a little rushed and that drains some of the atmosphere from the book, but this is still an effective thriller in most aspects. I do wish the movie had the time to really dial up the tension and convey the passage of time, as the book is so effective in that respect, but time limits are an issue in a feature, of course. The movie centers on Carla Gugino, who has to carry almost the entire film on her own and she never falters. Her performance is strong and she is able to convey so much emotional depth, making the most of the material and ensuring she commands the screen. Bruce Greenwood is also solid here, but he isn’t given much to do, while Chiara Aurelia is fantastic as the young Jessie. One aspect of the movie that I didn’t like was the contrast references to Stephen King’s other work. A couple of them make sense, as they’re loosely related to what happens here, but most of the time, it is a distraction that disrupts the experience. I know some fans love the shared universe stuff however, so I understand why it was included. But despite the fan service and some logic gaps, Gerald’s Game is a capable thriller.
No nakedness. The movie is driven by a sexual encounter gone wrong and has a thread about sexual abuse, but no screen sexual content is present. The movie does pack in some bloodshed, including repeated scenes of a dog feasting on the fresh corpse of a human being. The nasty part happens of screen, but we do see the dog gnawing on chunks of meat. The money shot here is very well crafted, with some brutal, wince inducing visuals that pack a real punch. Even so, the blood is infrequent and only one scene is graphic, so it isn’t loaded with violence. The focus isn’t often on dialogue here, but what is there is well written. But this is serious material and as such, doesn’t have any camp or outlandishness. Just some mild sexual banter, so it earns a point, but not much memorable stuff here. This one is mostly grounded, but has some bursts of creepiness, so I think one craziness point is in order.
Overall Insanity: 1/10