Marriage can be difficult, and while “for better” is easy, it’s the bad that can often test a couple’s dedication to one other, and to making their marriage work. In this psychological horror based on Stephen King’s 1992 novel of the same name, audiences get a glimpse of what happens when “for worse” opens the door to horrors both past and present.
Gerald (Bruce Greenwood) and Jessie (Carla Gugino) have a marriage that’s been strained for years, for myriad reasons, including Gerald’s impotence, so they decide that a romantic weekend getaway is in order to repair their relationship. Gerald doesn’t just bring his little blue pills, however. He also brings handcuffs and violent fantasies to role play with his wife. Between Gerald’s selfish disregard for Jessie’s discomfort and lack of consent, and the couple carelessly leaving the front door ajar, Jessie soon finds herself in an unthinkable situation: Handcuffed to a reinforced headboard with no help, and a hungry stray dog at the foot of her bed.
With a stunningly vivid and enthralling performance by Gugino as the desperate and terrified Jessie, Gerald’s Game reminds us that there are many types of shackles, various forms of monsters, and that waiting for someone else to save you can often only leave you more exposed and vulnerable. As Jessie lays trapped on the bed, she is forced to confront her traumatic past, and how the events of her childhood informed her present-day decisions. For once, she has to use her voice and her wits to save herself, and watching the psychological evolution of our protagonist is breath-taking and affirming. Though slightly convoluted in the last 15 minutes, Gerald’s Game showcased female empowerment, growth, and resilience in a unique and surprising way.
I give this one 4.25 stars.