Gerald’s Game, currently on Netflix is a remarkable bit of television because it understands that horror is more than things that go ‘bump’ in the night, but is also a way of working through the most evil of demons, namely those that haunt us in our everyday, waking lives.
And imagine to my surprise to learn that it’s directed by Mike Flanagan (Oculus, Ouija: Origin of Evil) who understands that the best horror is like a satisfying meal in that it sticks to your ribs.
So when you combine Mike Flanagan’s minimalistic direction (with not a jump scare in literally the entire movie) with a story written by Stephen King, the likelihood is that both auteurs will brew a potent, horrible (in the best possible way) stew.
Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood star as Jessie and Gerald Burlingame, who we meet when they’re preparing for a holiday (though when Gerald packs two pairs of handcuffs we know that whatever is going to go on will be at the very least, very, very interesting). As the story progresses we learn that much of what we learned about the couple earlier is a facade, revealed by nothing less than a Shakesperean narrative device.
While having more in common with a psychological thriller than outright horror, Gerald’s Game isn’t afraid to scale that fence when it comes to it.
So if you haven’t see Gerald’s Game, consider giving it a spin but keep in mind that some games–once you start playing–are Hell to stop.
I was originally going to write a post revolving around the fate of Mike Flanagan’s (Oculus, Hush, Oujia: Origin of Evil) Before I Wake, which was caught up in the failure of Relativity when I found this link on YouTube:
Apparently, when Relativity was solvent rights to the movie were sold for release in other territories, which means it may have been in theaters internationally, which was the beginning of the journey to YouTube.
The link I’ve provided isn’t in English, but an English version is available, in case you were wondering.
Now THIS is the type of activity YouTube needs to police, not people using snippets of trailers or videos (which likely falls under Fair Use) in their own videos.
I think Mike Flanagan (Oculus, Hush) is quite a talented director. That being said, I find the latest trailer from his upcoming Ouija 2: Origin of Evil in some ways a bit disturbing (and not in the good, creepy, what’s that shadow doing there kind of way).
It’s not that I think that it’s going to be as bad–keep in mind I paid to see the original Ouija, so knowing Flanagan’s bona fides I can’t see it being as horribly ‘meh’ as that– as the movie that it’s a sequel to.
Though what it feels like is that Flanagan is playing in James Wan’s (Saw, Insidious, Dead Silence, The Conjuring, etc) sandbox rather than creating something all his own.
And on some levels that’s not quite fair. Wan doesn’t own period pieces–as Ouija 2: Origin of Evil appears to be–but he has partially built a career on period supernatural movies like The Conjuring, Insidious and their sequels, which are very much products of their times (the 80’s).
Then there’s that most of James Wan’s horror movies are slicker than they have any right to be, and if there’s anything that I hope Mike Flanagan doesn’t learn, it’s that.
Contrary to what some people say 2014’s Ouija–based on the Hasbro board ‘game‘; And before you say it, Yes. that spooky-ass thing is an actual game–wasn’t a bad movie more than it was a ‘Meh’ movie.
And that’s coming from someone who had the misfortune of paying to see it.
It took what should have been terrifying–Ouija, or spirit boards are that all on their lonesome–and turned it into bland, horror-by-the-numbers schlock.
Despite that being the case the movie cost $5 million to produce and earned over $100 million worldwide; which is another way of saying that there’s no way that there wasn’t going to be a sequel.
Though this time around I think that the producers have keyed into how poorly the first movie was received (despite how much it earned).
Because this time around they hired Mike Flanagan, who helmed the far superior Oculus, to direct.
They also increased its budget–from $5 to 6 million for the sequel–so this time around Oculus: Origina of Evil should at least make an impression.
Something the original can’t claim to do.
Jason Zada’s The Forest revolves around Aokigahara, a 14-mile forest that sits in the shadow of Mount Fuji. It’s also known as the Suicide Forest because hundreds of people have killed themselves there over a twenty-five year period.
As if that weren’t horrifying enough, according to Japanese mythology the forest is demon-plagued.
Heck, the movie almost writes itself, which is why I was dismayed to read a review from FilmBook, which pretty much says that the movie shat the bed, replacing any sort of tension and horror with jump scares.
It amazes me–if the review is accurate–how filmmakers can take events, places and things that are actually horrific, and somehow make them less so. The review reminds me of Ouija, a not-very-good movie that somehow managed to make a terrifying object–just looking at ouija boards gives me the willies–boring (luckily the sequel is being directed by Mike Flanagan, who knows a thing or two about horror, having directed Oculus).
And that’s not that an easy thing to do.
Let’s be honest. The Paranormal Activity movies are pretty bad. Sure, they vary where they sit on the suckometer, but what’s a given is the suckage. And i know that I maybe should be more grateful that horror movies are getting their due, but making really bad ones aren’t, in the long run, helping anyone because people are just going to stop paying to see them–or pirate them, which is worse in its way. I mean, I PAID to see Ouija, and felt a bit violated (though the sequel is being written by Mike Flanagan, who did the far better Oculus, so I might take a chance on it. The bastards) and for most people, unlike me apparently, it’s “trick me once, shame on me. Trick me twice, same on you.”
Before Mike Flanagan wrote and directed “Oculus’ there was his award-winning short “Oculus: Chapter 3 – The Man With The Plan.” Despite being the third chapter, far as I know there were no prior editions. I have been looking for a link to the actual short, but I have yet to find it. As soon as I do, Screenphiles readers will be the first to know.
For purposes of comparison here’s a trailer from “Oculus,”