Women are obliged to keep your secrets. Your seediest thoughts that you offload on us to make yourself feel better, we carry them all our lives. You confess your darkest thoughts to us and beg us to act them out with you, so that with the shame we can also never tell, we can never reveal what you're truly like when you twist yourself inside-out.
This is the crux of Gerald's Game, the Stephen King adaption that hit Netflix yesterday. Jessie is full of secrets. Some are hers, some are not hers to tell. She is a dutiful wife who ignores the signs of affairs, who ignores her husband's overheard 'locker room talk', who ignores her past until she is stripped of the one thing that helps her keep everything together; the ability to run away.
On the surface Geralds Game sounds like a titillating exploitation nightmare. A woman goes to a cabin for a weekend of fucking to renew her failing marriage, only to find her husband dead with a huge fucking viagra boner at the bottom of the bed, and herself handcuffed with no escape. But do you know what happens when you find yourself in a situation where you are restrained? Your mind untethers. What used to be familiar voice inside your head is suddenly outside your body and masterminding your escape, and they're intent on bringing up your past.
You know when you're about to fall asleep and your brain goes "remember that time you really upset your mum" and then you're wide awake and wracked with guilt from fifteen years ago? This is Gerald's Game, but a torturous constant. There's no escape to go have a fag or a cup of tea, you have to face every single thing you are ashamed of head-on or you're not going to survive, mentally or physically.
I first read Stephen King's Gerald's Game is a thirteen year old, it's been my favourite King book ever since. I think this book taught me some valuable life lessons as an impressionable girl. I admired Jessie and her ability to say no to obvious pig Gerald, and her resilience in the face of pure terror, real or imagined, was admirable to me.
The book was meant to be unfilmable. A feature length film of a woman cuffed to a bed with nothing but her thoughts to keep her company? Unthinkable. After all, what could a woman be thinking that could possibly grip audience goers? I think it's a testament to how far we have come that a studio will now take a chance on Gerald's Game, and obviously it's a fantastic imagining of the source material.
To go any deeper into the plot would spoil everything, it is better if you go into this blind, where the horrors can slowly unfold as they come back to the protagonist. What makes this particularly interesting is the juxtaposition between the very real horrors Jessie is facing, and those from her past she has never confronted, which one is more preferable to confront? Ultimately she has to look both inwards and outwards for survival, and it's a desperate feat that will invest you straight away.
Gerald's Game is important and uncomfortable to watch. I think as women we can all pinpoint a time where we have felt like Jessie, when you want to kick a man off of you but you know if they carry on and you are forced into sex without your explicit consent it will still be your fault for wearing the lingerie, and this film captures the nervousness and the sheer panic that you can feel when building up to sex with someone, even someone you have been married to for 11 years.
The film explores what happens if you become complacent, I'm not saying that if you let your husband run amok and be an asshole that you're going to end up chained to a bed, but the weaker you grow, the more power he has, and ultimately you are a sort of prisoner trapped in familiarity because it's easier than confronting the unknown. We all know that you're always better off ditching the men and going it alone, even if it involves a whole lot of deep soul searching until you start feeling okay.
Robyn is one half of Bimbo Movie Bash, an avid fan of Angel Delight and a Pee Wee apologist.