gerald's game movie

Ladies and gentlemen: welcome to the Stephen King movie renaissance. With The Dark Tower arriving early next year, It nearing the end of principal photography, and a new version of The Stand continuously waiting in the wings, we’re about to be beset on all sides by cinematic adaptations of King’s most acclaimed work. And then there is the film version of Gerald’s Game that Oculus and Hush director Mike Flanagan has been wanting to make since 2014, which would bring one of the author’s less famous books to the screen. Unlike those other books, which are ultimately built around characters on straightforward quests that see them come face-to-face with evil, this novel is a tough nut to crack – it’s set entirely in one room and centers around a single character who must escape an agonizing (and adults only) predicament.

Gerald’s Game is the kind of horror movie that would have a hard time getting made by a traditional studio and released into a couple thousand theaters. So the news that it may go directly to Netflix makes perfect sense.

Flanagan touched on Gerald’s Game during an interview with Rue Morgue, where he mentioned that it was Stephen King himself who got the ball rolling once more on this adaptation after he tweeted about enjoying Hush. As you may recall, Hush, a very clever slasher film about a deaf woman facing off against an armed intruder in her isolated home, was purchased by Netflix earlier this year and debuted directly on the streaming service after a festival run. Here’s Flanagan:

I view Hush, actually, as my most successful movie. All of Netflix’s numbers are proprietary, so I don’t get to look at them, but the way I’ve heard people talking, it’s been viewed an amazing number of times, and the reception has been very, very positive. Coincidentally, Stephen King watched Hush at home on Netflix and tweeted about it, which kind of blew my mind. And that got us talking about Gerald’s Game again.

And that brings us to Gerald’s Game. Published in 1992, the book follows Jessie Burlingame, who finds herself handcuffed to a bed in her secluded cabin for an evening of kinky fun with her husband, Gerald…who, through reasons best seen on screen, has a heart attack and dies. Alone and unable to escape, Jessie is plagued by visions and figures who may or may not be hallucinations, forcing her to confront her past even as more physical threats begin to manifest. It’s an intensely uncomfortable and disturbing book, and I have no idea how it will function as a movie.

But I like Flanagan quite a bit! His Oculus divided audiences, but I enjoyed its nightmarish atmosphere and creepy mythology. Hush is even better, taking a standard slasher movie set-up and delivering reliable, meat-and-potatoes thrills. As he explained further in the interview, Netflix would allow him to make Gerald’s Game as he sees fit, cutting through the bureaucracy that often plagues films being made through more traditional routes:

Netflix, because of how well Hush has done, said, ‘We’re really interested in this, and we’d like to do it the way you want to do it.’ And that eliminated the pressure of having to test-screen the movie and define the demographic that’s going to watch it—all of that stuff that typically comes into the conversation when you’re trying to figure out how to market a film for a wide theatrical release. It just cleared the table, so that I can make the movie I want to make. I’m hoping very much that we can get that movie up on its feet soon.

It’s still a little weird to think about a movie premiering on Netflix as a good thing. Buried in the back of my brain is the constant thought of “Isn’t this the 2016 equivalent of going straight to video?” But that’s just artifacts of an earlier age rattling around my skull. Streaming has changed the game, and if Netflix means directors I like making adaptations of books that wouldn’t stand a chance elsewhere, then someone in this circle is doing the movie gods’ work.

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