31 Days of Halloween — Day 15: Gerald’s Game (2017) — by RedCapJack

HMP Geralds GameEditor’s note: The hosts of Horror Movie Podcast are always impressed by the knowledge and insights of our listenership in the emails and voicemails that we receive, as well as in the comments here at HorrorMoviePodcast.com. Once again, we’ve asked our listeners to participate in our 31 Days of Halloween by contributing written reviews. This review was submitted by a long-time listener and friend of the show Mark Cunningham, who goes by the screen-name “Red Cap Jack” … You can read “Red Cap Jack’s Ranting Lunacy” blog at redcapjack.blogspot.com and follow him on Twitter @RedCapJack.

The latest in the current trend in Stephen King revivals, this taut thriller gets itself a first time adaptation from genre director Michael Flanagan (Oculus, Hush) and is a riveting suspense ride. The story begins when a married couple, Jessie (Carla Cugino) and Gerald (Bruce Greenwood), try to add a little spark to their marriage when they visit their house on the lake. Gerald, in an attempt to kink things up, brings in a pair of handcuffs- but Jesse isn’t all that into it. The resulting argument ends with a sudden heart attack on poor Gerald and Jesse is trapped with both hands cuffed to the bed.

Hilarity ensues.
No, not really… a desperate Jesse is trapped and must somehow survive the weekend. She has slim hope of someone arriving to rescue her, but she’s determined to live. Events quickly spiral out of control as she loses her grip on her sanity. Then there’s the arrival of a hungry dog, mounting delusions, and flashbacks that force Jesse to face a history she’d thought long buried.

Carla Cugino plays the lead, and delivers a performance with multiple levels. At times helpless, desperate, and afraid we are forced to watch her find an inner strength and debate herself at turns with the apparitions of her mind. Memories are revealed and deep pain is dragged out so that our heroine can find the inner strength to overcome her demons.

There are some changes from the book but only in that it streamlined the narrative a bit more cleanly for film. All of the truly gory bits remain intact. Highly recommended for fans of tense slow burns, though the tension never really lets up throughout the grueling ordeal.

Rating and Recommendation:
8.5 out of 10 and a huge recommend.
Gerald’s Game is a Netflix Original and only available on the streaming service.

– Red Cap Jack

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5 thoughts on “31 Days of Halloween — Day 15: Gerald’s Game (2017) — by RedCapJack

  1. I agree with everything you said. I’m surprised by some of the reviews I’ve heard where they liked it until the last 10 minutes. Personally I loved the whole thing.


    Day 15 – Clowntergeist

    Residents of a small town deals with a killer clown that haunts its future victims with red balloons that have written the exact date and time of their upcoming death.

    What can you possibly say about a horror movie that was clearly made for dirt cheap, designed to cash-in on the expected popularity of a mainstream horror film, and no one goes into with any expectations of it being good? It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Clowntergeist isn’t a good movie. Just look at the name – Clowntergeist. That’s pretty lousy. Oddly enough, it’s not even an accurate name for Ribcage, the evil clown. Ribcage is said to be a demonic clown, which means perhaps a more accurate title would have been Demon Clown? Then again, it’s safe to say that besides trying to cash-in on the release of IT: Chapter 1, Clowntergeist was also hoping to rely on the past popularity of 1982’s Poltergeist.

    Going into the film with such a low budget, there’s going to be certain strict limitations. You’re not casting a couple of A-list stars wanting to get away from mainstream releases and try to grab Oscar attention with a small budget film. I imagine most of the cast has little to no acting acting. The one thing that the film would have going for it is the ability to be wacky. After all, the title is Clowntergeist. With such an absurd title, it’d be fair to expect a Sy-Fy Original Movie that’s so bad that it’s good. Clowntergeist is simply so bad that it’s really bad. It’s treated as a serious film with very little fun to be had. Why? The tension is never there, causing the entire attempt at creating a serious horror movie to be a waste. It’s a shame too because a stupid movie where a clown is haunting its victims has potential.

    If you’re a fan of urban legends, this film has a couple of pretty popular ones including the one about a babysitter unnerved by a clown statue that she learns the homeowner doesn’t have and the “People can lick too” story. In both cases, the stories have been varied just a bit to make them slightly original. In both cases, they feel thrown in and not organic to the story. As if the filmmakers threw in the stories as an easy way to scare the audiences, but instead they both fall flat. It did make me think that had they expanded on the urban legends and added a couple more, all tweaked to include a clown, you could have a potentially fun clown-based urban legend anthology film.

    Besides stealing from IT and Poltergeist, the film also seems to borrow heavily from The Ring’s premise of knowing when you’re going to be killed. It’s supposed to add a layer of mystery of suspense as Emma must figure out how to save her own life before her time’s up. Instead, the story tends to be a mess. Part of the problem is that Ribcage often comes to scare Emma, but we know when her time is up. So these potential kill scenes for her has no effect on the viewer since you know she has to live to at least when her death time comes up. This randomness with Ribcage wasn’t helped by the fact that he often went to attack others in Emma’s life, but didn’t kill them right away. There’s one scene with Emma’s love interest, Jonah, where he’s attacked by Ribcage. Emma and her roommate, Heather, find Jonah tied to a chair and apparently dead…before casually waking up. They untie him and just go right back about their business. Yet, later on in the movie, Ribcage does kill Jonah. I don’t get the point of this other than just to pad the running time.

    Despite all of those negatives, I suppose it’s not all bad. As I said, it’s a movie that looked bad on paper and was bad upon watch. So I can’t say it underperformed. Likewise, the weaknesses of the film are mostly what you’d expect it to be weak in. I’m willing to go easier on a film that absolutely had no right to be good compared to a bigger movie that failed. Although none of the scenes grabbed my interest, I can’t say I had to keep checking the time. While recently watching the awful Leatherface, I found myself pausing the film a few times to see if I was close to the end. I guess that means the pacing was good in Clowntergeist? Although you could argue that it’s just taken from IT, but I liked the usage of the red balloons. There’s one scene where Emma finds a red balloon in her car that tells her to turn around and that nearly created a fun tense filled scene.

    Rating: 2/10


    I 100% agree Red Cap. I am generally not a fan of the 1 location survivor horror à la Open Water, Frozen or The Shallows, so when my wife wanted to watch this one last night and I read the premise on imdb I was worried. However, this one really threw me a curveball with the halucinations she gets, and the “supernatural” element, and I have to admit I was really into that. Also, Carla Cugino in a nighty for 85% of the run time didn’t hurt.

    As for the last 10 minutes, and here’s where I get spoilery, the fact that the Moonlight Man was actually a very real serial killer who though he himself was hallucinating when seeing her made thinking back to those scenes with him all the more chilling.

    I’d go exactly with the same rating of 8.5 and would definitely recommend watching it.

  4. The novel, Gerald’s Game, has always been one of my favorites, since I read it back in ’92, and when I heard it was to be turned into a movie my first thought was… how in the hell are they going to do that? I mean, it’s basically one woman left to her own devices, and the voices in her head… but the movie actually did a very good job with that.
    It also looks good… I liked the cinematography! It was shot really well! You do get a sense of the hopelessness of the situation, and Jessie being all alone… not as much as in the novel though, but still…
    Carla Gugino is great as Jessie… She’s a beautiful woman, and a fantastic actress, and I’m sure it’s not easy conveying the emotions Jessie goes through, handcuffed to a bed! Miss Gugino does an excellent job though!
    Bruce Greenwood does a good job as her husband, Gerald… and Henry Thomas is good as Jessie’s asshole dad!
    The movie suffers a little bit in the wrap up, at the end, I’m sad to say, but over all I really, really liked this one!
    But, having said that… the novel is much better!
    And speaking of the novel… for those of you who’s read Gerald’s Game, and also Dolores Claiborne (another fantastic novel), know there’s a connection between the two books… and I was so happy they kept that in the movie! It’s nothing much, just a few lines, but if you’ve read Dolores Claiborne, you’ll catch it…
    I guess my bottom line here is, watch Gerald’s Game, and also Dolores Claiborne (which was also turned into a good movie)… and if you want more meat on the bone… go back and read the novels too!

    And as far as ratings go… I think I’ll go a little bit higher than the above… I’ll give it a 9 and say you should definitely watch this one!

  5. Day 15: Young Frankenstein (1974)

    This is one of the best horror comedies. It’s not scary but it’s a wonderful homage to Universal’s Frankenstein films. The aesthetic is spot on and the story is full of plot points taken directly from the original franchise. The comedy is forefront but comes directly from the story and characters. The cast couldn’t be better and it may be Gene Wilder’s best film. 10/10

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