‘Gerald’s Game,’ Mike Flanigan’s ‘Unfilmable’ Stephen King Sex Game Thriller: Production Update

Mike Flanagan, who recently directed the hit home invasion thriller Hush and who is now directing an adaptation of Stephen King’s 1992 novel Gerald’s Game for Netflix, recently sat down with Mangled Matters to discuss his in-progress work. He opens up about why the sex-driven Gerald’s Game was harder to film than any movie he has ever done, discusses the role Stephen King himself played in the production, and gives an update on the film’s release date.

'Oculus' Premier
Mike Flanagan at the premier of 2013’s ‘Oculus.’ [Image by Mike Windle/Getty Images]

The fact that Gerald’s Game has been around for 25 years without anyone making a movie out of it is not due to its quality as a story; it is arguably one of the more innovative and distinct books King has ever written. It is instead because of its strange content. Gerald’s Game is kicked off by a sex roleplay and quickly evolves into a thriller. Three quarters of the book is spent focused on one naked woman who is trapped in a bedroom, bound to the bedpost with handcuffs she cannot open. The narrative of Gerald’s Game contains a ton of internal dialogue and even more nudity (the latter is not meant to attract the audience’s attention, but it is still omnipresent).

Most filmmakers would take one look at the synopsis of Gerald’s Game and say “no way,” so how did Flanagan manage to pull the adaptation off?

Flanagan says the motivation to translate such a non-film-friendly book to the screen was primarily borne from the fact that he has loved Gerald’s Game ever since it was published, and he feels it deserves an adaption that does the source material and its author justice.

“As a lifelong King fan, I know how it feels to see an adaptation go south,” Flanagan noted in the recent interview. “I was determined from the start that the film should honor his amazing novel. Adapting King is a difficult and fragile thing – we’ve all seen what happens when it goes wrong. As a Constant Reader (the moniker for Stephen King fans), I never wanted Gerald’s Game to be in that pile.”

That is not to say it was easy for any of those involved to film Gerald’s Game. In fact, Flanagan mused, it was probably the most difficult for Carla Gugino, the actress playing main character and victim Jessie Burlingame.

“I don’t think anyone had it as hard as Carla. This movie asks a lot of her,” he noted.

“When you take an actor, and remove their mobility, it eliminates one of their biggest tools.”

'Gerald's Game' Actress Carla Gugino
Carla Gugino. [Image by Brian Ach/Getty Images for GLSEN]

Not only that, Flanagan said, but there is the fact that being handcuffed to a post for “the majority of the film,” something that would be tough for anyone, acting or not.

“First, there’s the physical discomfort of the restraint,” he said. “But beyond that, there’s this level of exposure and vulnerability, both physically and emotionally. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a situation that was this demanding on an actor.”

The movie may have pushed Flanagan and his actors to the limit, but at least they are being recognized for their work by the author of Gerald’s Game, Stephen King. King has even helped with some integral parts of the production, like choosing who would portray the characters he initially conceived.

“We have been in touch,” Flanagan said. “He’s been involved from the start, especially when it came to approvals and casting and such. We’ve also been in touch since he saw the movie. I was beyond excited that he responded to the film the way he did. It was probably the biggest fan-boy moment of my life.”

King has been vocal about enjoying the Gerald’s Game movie, too.

To top it all off, Gerald’s Game is being released on Netflix. As the Inquisitr pointed out in its initial report about the film, that means it can be true to the racy and nontraditional themes of Gerald’s Game rather than shying away from them as a traditional movie studio would likely do.

Flanagan finished by revealing he still doesn’t know much about the release date.

“We don’t know yet when it’ll premiere, but I can’t wait for people to see it. It’s been a passion project of mine since I was 19-years-old, so I’ve basically wanted to make this movie for half my life. And you’re right, for a long time I thought it was unfilmable. I don’t know if I’ve ever been as proud of a movie as I am of this one. In a lot of ways, my previous work has all been building up to this.”

That last statement is quite a claim, especially considering that Flanagan had already directed some critically acclaimed stuff including not only Hush but Ouija: Origin of Evil, Oculus, and Absentia before taking on Gerald’s Game.

Gerald’s Game is one of many Stephen King adaptations coming out in the next year or two. Others include The Dark Tower due out in August, IT in September, and 1922 and Firestarter, both due out sometime in 2018. Will such a passionate director and the extreme creative freedom that Netflix make Gerald’s Game the best of these adaptations? Drop your opinion in the comments section below.

[Featured Image by Milous/iStock]