Netflix Halloween Countdown: "Gerald's Game"

Updated on October 31, 2017

Netflix Halloween Countdown

For the month of October, I have selected 17 horror (or horror-themed) movies, at random, on Netflix. Over the course of this month, I watched and reviewed a lot of spooky, scary, gory, chilling, horror-themed movies and, with each review, I have included a table (at the very bottom of the article) where I have ranked them in order from best to worst. So if you are looking to get in the Halloween spirit, by watching some Halloween style movies, then these articles are for you!

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Synopsis

Jessie (Carla Gugino) and Gerald Burlingame (Bruce Greenwood) are married, but their sex life has hit a bit of a rough patch. Gerald is getting older and is having difficulty getting "excited". This has caused tension in their marriage so they decide to go away for the weekend in the hopes of spicing things up. They go to a remote house in the woods (with no one nearby), get settled, and get started.

Little does Jessie know, Gerald has a specific idea of what he wants to do to her this weekend. His fantasy includes handcuffing both of Jessie's wrists to the reinforced bed posts and having his way with her. Unfortunately for him, Jessie is not into that sort of thing. As a result, she freaks out and kicks him away from her. Gerald (having had his mind set on this fantasy since they planned their getaway) becomes frustrated and the two have a heated argument, which ends up giving Gerald a heart attack.

In trying to wake Gerald up, Jessie inadvertently knocks him off the bed which causes him to split his head open on the floor. With Gerald having had a heart attack, and now bleeding out on the floor, there is no one nearby who can release Jessie from her handcuffs. There is no one nearby for miles, her phone is just out of reach, the nearest glass of water is just out of reach, and (in the couples excitement) they mistakenly left the front door wide open. Can she survive long enough for someone to find her? Will she be able to find a way out of her handcuffs? Will her loss of sanity be her downfall?

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

The Pros
The Cons
Water (+8pts)
Ghosts (-3pts)
The Dog (+5pts)
Flashbacks (-6pts)
Carla Gugino & Bruce Greenwood (+6pts)
Moonlight Man (-5pts)
All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then awarded for each Pro and taken away for each Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points ranging from 0-10 allowing me to convey to you how significant these Pros or Cons are.
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Pro: Water (+8pts)

The glass of water was such a great concept for this movie. Jessie is handcuffed to the bed with no way out. Naturally, she eventually needs water. Even though there is a glass of water in her hand, she cannot drink it. As close as the glass of water is, "it might as well be on Mars". What is so fascinating about this concept is that it kind of applies to the movie as a whole. Even though she is in a nice bed, she might as well be on Mars because she has no way of escaping.

This was one element of the film that I really enjoyed. Even though she is in a nice home (and on a comfortable bed) she is just as stranded and alone as she would be if she were lost at sea. Similarly, she is in just as much danger too. The premise is the best part of this film, and the glass of water (in addition to her phone) symbolizes that. She is so close to the things she needs, but has seemingly no way of reaching them.

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Con: Ghosts (-3pts)

Shortly after the passing of her husband, Jessie begins seeing (and talking with) her husband. Is this all in her head, or has her husband turned into a ghost? You will have to see the movie to find out, but this is a Stephen King story so you it could go either way. Regardless of which it is, she soon begins seeing other "entities". They will be walking around the room, arguing with each other and trying to persuade Jessie to make certain decisions. This was clearly done to make the story less boring. One woman, handcuffed to a bed for an entire film? Could get boring, so let's add some ghosts/visions to give Jessie something to talk to. The logic makes sense, and I think it was (mostly) successful, but I think there was a bit too much of this in the film.

Rather than see the character weighing certain possible choices, we see her either agreeing or disagreeing with a ghost/vision. They essentially tell her everything she needs to do; she just has to decide if she should listen to them or not. I am sure, in the novel, these decisions were properly fleshed out. I am sure the novel shows her being told what she can do as well as her struggling with the decisions. The film simply did not have enough time to do both. Instead, we get ghosts/visions force feeding solutions to Jessie. We just have to watch her struggle until they tell her what to do.

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Pro: The Dog (+5pts)

The dog was an interesting part of this story. It is simple and it provides some gruesome imagery. It also symbolizes that an animal, in desperate situations, will do anything to survive. This applies to Jessie. The dog seems so innocent (and I think a lot of viewers will like the dog anyway), but the dog will do what it needs to in order to survive. The symbolism and message are both fine, but (ultimately) this dog makes for some of the more entertaining scenes. Jessie has to witness some pretty horrific moments and there is absolutely nothing she can do to stop it. Could she close her eyes? Sure, but she can still here it, and believe me, that is gruesome enough.

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Con: Flashbacks (-6pts)

This is where the film started to lose it's momentum. It is also another example of something that probably worked in book format, but fails to translate (effectively) to the screen. As Jessie is stuck in her comfortable prison, she experiences flashbacks to her childhood. Each flashback brings her closer to a moment that explains (to the audience) her behavior earlier on in the film. The only thing is, I cannot imagine anyone who needed that behavior explained. For one, her behavior was pretty normal, so did not need any explanation. Second, I do not think anyone would care anyway.

In book format, these flashbacks probably work well. If the book puts extra emphasis on her actions, there is more of a need for those actions to be explained. The book would also have plenty of time to squeeze those flashbacks between chapters. In movie format, and whenever a flashback begins, it does nothing but annoy the viewer and make them wanting to get back to Jessie on the bed. The flashbacks are so irritating because (without proper setup) they have nothing to do with the plot of the movie.

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Pro: Carla Gugino & Bruce Greenwood (+6pts)

These two actors carried this movie. With such a simple plot, one could be forgiven for thinking this will be a boring movie. The main character does not leave the bed for the majority of the movie. Could that be entertaining for an entire film? Well, you need to great performers to pull it off. Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood are those performers.

Carla Gugino plays the insanity and the desperation, while Bruce Greenwood is able to complement her well with attitude and a little comedy. The film really hinges on Carla Gugino's character and, while she did a fantastic job on her own, her interactions with Bruce Greenwood were pretty entertaining. Due to their performances, and their on-screen chemistry, these two actors managed to keep the film interesting for the duration of the film.

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Con: Moonlight Man (-5pts)

I think this may be a third example of something that probably worked in the book, but did not work in this film. What on earth was with the Moonlight Man? As Jessie really starts to go insane, she sees this figure (which Gerald tells her is the Moonlight Man) standing in the shadow of the corner of the room. The figure is tall, its face is disfigured, and it is staring at Jessie (trapped on the bed). The figure has a box that contains a bone and a piece of jewelry from each of it's victims.

I do not want to say too much more about this character (other than the fact that the ending to this entity's role was a bit too ridiculous for this movie), but I thought this character really took away from the film's issue. This could (and should) have been a fascinating survival story, but elements (like the Moonlight Man) take focus away from that. Stephen King is a great writer, but his stories are very elaborate and dense. As a result, filmmakers (trying to adapt one of his stories) make the mistake of trying to cram everything into the (relatively, when compared to the length of a book) short duration of a film. This method is so rarely successful. In trying to adapt a Stephen King novel, you have to pick and choose some (not all) strange elements of the book to exclude from the movie.

Could the Moonlight Man have worked well? Sure, but this entity definitely needed more time to be developed and that was time that this film did not have. The Moonlight Man was an interesting concept, but it was executed poorly and took focus away from the main issue of the film. Too many Stephen King book-to-film adaptations make the mistake of forcing certain elements into the film, when they should probably be left out to better improve other elements of the story. For this film, that forced element was the Moonlight Man.

Grading Scale

Grade
Category
Points
A+
Amazing
95-100
A-
Amazing
90-94
B+
Good
85-89
B-
Good
80-84
C+
Average
75-79
C-
Average
70-74
D+
Bad
65-69
D-
Bad
60-64
F
Garbage
45-59
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Grade: B- (80pts)

I think this ended up being a barely good movie. It has a very interesting premise, as it is a survival story that takes place with the main character being trapped on her bed. What would characters in other survival stories would give to be trapped on their bed? Yet, despite how comfortable she may be at first, she still runs into the same issues that any character would in a survival story faces. She struggles to get water and she struggles to get help. That is what this film is about. What made this a bit more fascinating than other survival stories, was that she was just out of arms reach from everything she needed.

Both water and her phone, were so close to her, but they were just out of reach. I thought that was a really compelling element of the film. However, there were a few parts of this story that were not so compelling. One is the flashbacks. Every time Jessie falls asleep, we get a flashback to her childhood. Each flashback brings the audience one step closer to discovering something about the character. Unfortunately, there was no setup (in the beginning of the film) that suggested any need to discover anything further about the character. Another issue with the film was the Moonlight Man. This was an entity that visits Jessie a few times throughout the movie and it basically represents her imminent death.

These two issues (the flashbacks and the Moonlight Man) were examples of things that probably worked in the book, but do not work in the movie without ample time to set them up. Instead, both issues only distract from the real issue in the movie (Jessie's escape from her mattress). While the film had a very interesting premise, and a fantastic performance from Carla Gugino, these issues definitely hurt the film.

Ranking

Rank
Movie
Points
1
Housebound
87pts
2
The Awakening
82pts
3
Stake Land
81pts
4
The Babysitter
80pts
4
Gerald's Game
80pts
5
Stitches
78pts
6
V/H/S
77pts
7
Would You Rather
76pts
8
Viral
75pts
9
It Follows
74pts
9
Little Evil
74pts
10
The Babadook
73pts
11
The Bar
72pts
12
Yoga Hosers
69pts
13
Most Likely to Die
67pts
14
13 Cameras
66pts
15
Gallowwalkers
54pts

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