Fantastic Fest Review: Gerald’s Game is so intense you might faint

One of the best Stephen King adaptations is also the most visceral film of the year.

So an interesting thing happened while I was watching director/writer Mike Flanagan’s new film, Gerald’s Game. I fainted. It had never happened to me before, but there’s a certain scene that is so visceral and powerful that my vision just went black and I woke up a few minutes later having spilled my drink. But that’s only one reason why this film rules.

We follow a couple who goes to an isolated cabin for a weekend of kinky sex, until Gerald – played by the wonderful Bruce Greenwood, has a heart attack and dies. This is already bad, but before he died he handcuffed his wife Jessie to the bed.

Gerald’s Game is considered to be one of Stephen King’s most unadaptable books, because most of the story is Jessie having internal monologues while trying to escape the house. Thankfully Mike Flanagan has figured out a way to make the book justice by giving Jessie visions of her dead husband talking to her.

This is one of Carla Gugino’s best performances. She absolutely sells on the desperation and pain Jessie is suffering, all the while carrying a dark past that comes out to haunt her in this hour of need. Whether it’s the thread of dehydration, a stray dog trying to eat her, or a mysterious and overly creepy giant that appears every night, we are as desperate as she is in her wish to stay alive.

Even as we stay primarily in one single room throughout the film, there’s never a dull moment in Gerald’s Game. Cinematographer Michael Fimognari never lingers on a frame for too long, and the story is so entrancing you won’t be able to look away from the screen, even when it begs you to.

There are some very strong scenes that will be hard to watch for some, including the single most visceral scene I have ever seen in a theater. You will try to look away, but even if you do, the sound design in Gerald’s Game is so powerful you will never get the scene out of your head, even if you’re unconscious during most of it.

Netflix and Mike Flanagan deserve all the praise for making Gerald’s Game into one of the best Stephen King adaptations ever, and for giving me an unforgettable  theatrical experience.

Gerald’s Game comes out on Netflix on Friday 29th of September.

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