Mike Flanagan’s film adaptation of Stephen King’s “Gerald’s Game” has been scoring rave reviews from festivals and on Netflix where it debuted on Friday worldwide. The film currently stands at an impressive 76/100 on Metacritic, making it one of the best-reviewed genre films of the year.
The story sets up the premise of a married couple looking to rekindle their passion with a trip to a secluded mountain cabin and a little kinky sex. Things go awry and the husband has a heart attack and dies shortly after handcuffing his wife, Jessie, to a four-poster bed.
With no real hope of rescue and cut off from everyone, Jessie’s mind begins to turn inward as she must figure out how to survive – and to do so she must go into a traumatic incident in her past. At the same time, a wild dog and a menacing figure hover in the shadows.
Some elements have achieved wide acclaim, notably the performances of Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood, along with surprisingly a couple of key changes from the book which seems to be for the better including the identities of the people in Jessie’s mind talking back to her.
Much of it though has been quite loyal to the original Stephen King story, and where the division over the film seems to come is in the last fifteen minutes or so as, much like the book, there’s an extended coda that is ‘out there’ at best. It’s a jarring and slightly clunky bit that doesn’t fit with the deftly skilled and surprisingly emotional survival tale before it.
Speaking with Bloody Disgusting about the reaction, Flanagan explained why he felt the need to end it that way because that’s what happens int he book:
“It was something when I read the book that I loved. I know it was polarizing with fans of the book, so the people that hated that epilogue in the book are going to hate it in the movie.
I fully expect that [the epilogue is] going to be the lightning rod for people to be like ‘Oh I was so into it and then (groans) that ending.’ But that’s what happened in the book. There was never a time where it felt right to do the film without that ending, for better or worse.”
The next King adaptation on the way is a film adaptation of the novella “1922” starring Thomas Jane. That is also a Netflix original movie and will debut on the service on October 20th.