Gerald's Game

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Gerald's Game Movie Poster Image
Well-made psychosexual horror film is gruesome and gory.
  • NR
  • 2017
  • 103 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 6 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Promotes confronting past demons, refusing to be victimized, and effecting one's own survival. Advocates for speaking out loudly against wrongdoing; burying abuse fosters further abuse.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Passive, timid, and unassertive heroine -- nearly a lifelong victim -- finds the strength and courage to confront her past and present to save herself, both physically and emotionally. Male characters are predatory, manipulative, misogynistic, and destructive.

Violence

Graphic violence, heightened suspense, and scares. Violence enhanced by music, visuals (with lots of blood), and sounds. Sexual terror. Leading character is handcuffed to her bed for most of the film, tormented by her captor. Torn body parts, a feral dog feasts on a dead body, a terrifying zombie-like apparition appears in multiple scenes, graphic verbal description of serial killer's crimes, a man suffers a fatal heart attack, a young girl is sexually assaulted. 

Sex

Predatory sexual relationships are at the core of the film. Sexual tension underscores the relationship between a man and his wife, whom he has handcuffed to a bed. He touches her breasts, degrades, and frightens her. Heroine is dressed in a skimpy silk shift throughout. A young girl is the victim of a sexual assault, shot with careful angles and heightened by sounds. Discussions of sexual inadequacy, Viagra, sex fantasies. 

Language

Frequent profanity, including "f--k," "s--t," "c--t," "penises." A husband insults and verbally assaults his wife in sexual terms.

Consumerism

Viagra is essential to the plot.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Viagra.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Gerald's Game is a horror movie based on a Stephen King novel. A seemingly fragile young wife accedes to her husband's wishes for some "kinky" sex when the unthinkable happens, and the woman is captive with no means of escape in an isolated house, alone ... or is she alone? The movie is filled with intensely suspenseful scenes: nightmarish images and music, terrifying sounds, and graphic violence and bloodletting, which work with the theme of a woman's ongoing lifetime imprisonment (body, mind, and soul) to create an ominous, desperate struggle. Expect gruesome sequences (spoiler alert): a feral dog chewing on a fresh corpse, a frightening apparition of a zombie-like giant on the move toward a trapped victim, the sexual assault of a young girl, and the escalating attempts of the woman to free herself, no matter what the cost to her body. All this is combined with a sadistic villain who torments his victim relentlessly. Language is scathingly mean-spirited and includes a litany of obscenities, including "f--k," "s--t," "c--t," and other shaming put-downs. And then there's the sex. It's always menacing, with the victim unable to fight back. No overt sexual activity, just threatening behavior, such as hovering over the woman about to strike. Heroine wears a thin slip throughout, heightening her vulnerability. Strictly for horror fans who don't mind the "eww" factor along with some strong conceptual content. Definitely not for kids.

Wondering if Gerald's Game is OK for your kids?

Set preferences and get age-appropriate recommendations with Common Sense Media Plus. Join now

Continue reading Show less

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byveda c. October 23, 2017

definitely not for kids

i saw this movie a few days ago and it was pretty good. i'm pretty desensitized to graphic violence, but the jump scares and imagery are VERY frightening.... Continue reading
Adult Written byeklanck14 December 13, 2018

Bad movie

This movie is set in the same scene almost the entire movie. There is no thrill to it, it is just boring. I could not finish the movie it had no suspense beside... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byFilms123 April 11, 2020

Very dark horror film explores themes of abuse

Gerald’s Game is a darn good film. I hesitate to call it a horror film, at least not in the typical sense of monsters that go bump in the night. A woman is hand... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byFilms123 April 11, 2020

Very dark horror film explores themes of abuse

Gerald’s Game is a darn good film. I hesitate to call it a horror film, at least not in the typical sense of monsters that go bump in the night. A woman is hand... Continue reading

What's the story?

The marriage of Gerald (Bruce Greenwood) and Jessie Burlingame (Carla Gugino) is strained when GERALD'S GAME opens. Hoping to rekindle their feelings, they leave for a weekend at their second home, which is beautiful, isolated, in a lush setting. Gerald has brought along some handcuffs, intent upon introducing some spice to what has been a fading sexual relationship. After only a short time in the handcuffs, feeling trapped and increasingly frightened, Jessie is finished with the game. But Gerald isn't ready to unlock the cuffs. He continues the "game" until tragic circumstances prevent him from stopping it, even if he wanted to. Jessie is trapped, alone, imprisoned on the bed, without food, water, or any means of communicating with the outside world. No one will find her. No one will be able to help. A series of mounting events and extraordinary beings put Jessie in more jeopardy -- and those real events are joined by the eerie presence of the couple's two alter egos, who appear to the terrified woman and either mock or try to support her. 

Is it any good?

Carla Gugino gives her all in a stellar performance; the production is first-rate, suspenseful, thought-provoking, and smart, but the gore and sexual threats make it tough going for the squeamish. Fans of Stephen King's book may be surprised by some of the changes to the story, but it all works as a movie. Gerald's Game is a tight thriller with a strong psychological core. Other performances, including those of Bruce Greenwood, Henry Thomas, and a very expressive dog, are first-rate as well. Still, there are moments that are hard to watch for any but horror fans. No kids.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the gruesome violence found in many horror movies. Many teen and young adult fans find the genre to be "fun" (e.g., Scream, A Nightmare on Elm Street). Gerald's Game isn't meant to be fun. It's neither exaggerated nor filmed for humorous shock value. Do you think the movie will appeal to the typical horror fan? Why or why not?  

  • Do you have a brutality tolerance level? How much gross violence is too much for you? Try to determine what exactly makes you turn away from a scene because you simply can't watch.

  • Why is it important for families to understand the impact of violence on kids?

  • Think about the art direction. How did Mike Flanagan and his team use the lighting (both exterior and interior), doors and windows, furnishings, and even the fabrics to contribute to the overall mood?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

For kids who love scary movies

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate