The third feature adaptation of a Stephen King story to be released inside of two calendar months, Gerald’s Game might be the least well-known of the batch. Coming from director Mike Flanagan, the movie stars Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood as a long-married couple who head to a remote cabin to try and rekindle some passion in their relationship.
Things turn south when, in the middle of a little light bondage, Gerald (Greenwood) suddenly dies, leaving Jessie (Gugino) handcuffed to the bed. With no one around for miles, she begins to panic, eventually flashing back to long-repressed memories of a trauma from years past. Those memories may help her survive, but they also may hint at dark secrets hidden in the house where she’s trapped.
The poster flips the orientation of the photo that makes up its primary element, rotating it 90 degrees. That means the shot of Jesse and Gerald lying in bed, she handcuffed to the headboard, has her arms extended from top to bottom and not side to side. Doing so throws off the perspective of the audience just a bit to make them think about what’s going on. Gerald isn’t obviously dead, so there’s no real sense of terror here, it just looks like they’re in a kind of a tender moment in bed. The terror is hinted at only in the copy “Some games you play. Some you survive.”
The first trailer starts out as Gerald and Jessie are on a weekend outing. They begin to engage in some marital activities but he has a heart attack, only after he’s already handcuffed her to the bedposts. She’s alone out in a remote cabin and starts struggling to free herself, soon hallucinating from thirst and isolation. We soon get flashbacks and other details that show this isn’t the first time she’s been in a situation like this and has to draw on repressed memories to try and find a way to survive.
This is my favorite kind of thriller, one that bends reality and fantasy into something truly twisted and interesting.
Online and Social
Nope. As is usual, Netflix gave it some attention its brand social channels but that’s about it.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Again, nothing I’m aware of.
Media and Publicity
The movie was announced as one of those screening at this year’s Fantastic Fest, where it picked up pretty good reviews and word of mouth from the critics there.
King did a bit of publicity for the movie, speaking highly of it while also mentioning the other two adaptations he had in theaters. Greenwood and Gugino talked about working with Flanagan and the process of filming a story this insular and difficult as well. Other than that and a few other minor comments, the release of the marketing assets formed the crux of the press coverage for the movie.
As I said above, this is my favorite kind of “horror.” At least that’s how it’s being sold, as a thriller that pushes the boundaries between reality and fantasy and makes characters question what is or isn’t real. It’s “horror” in the tradition of Hitchcock and others, where the very foundation the characters are operating on is always shifting and changing under their feet.
That’s conveyed mostly in the trailer but also to an extent in the poster. With word-of-mouth pretty positive coming out of festivals and increased attention due to it being just the latest of this fall’s King adaptations (and not even the last one), it looks like it may find an audience on Netflix.
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.