Category Archives: A+

Review: Krisha

Director(s)Trey Edward Shults
Principal CastKrisha Fairchild as Krisha
Robyn Fairchild as Robyn
Bill Wise as Doyle
Trey Edward Shults as Trey
Release Date2015
Running Time 81 minutes

Having already seen It Comes at Night, I expected Shults’s directorial debut, Krisha, to be ambiguous and unsettling. Though the story managed to get under my skin to an even greater degree than his sophomore feature, it’s much more straight-forward and clear. This is the story of Krisha, a women who returns to the family she abandoned in an attempt to patch things up during Thanksgiving. It doesn’t follow your typical story structure. There’s not one or two dramatic encounters into levity into redemption. This story is real, painful, and manages to explore the damage troubled family members can have on the whole unit in a truly visceral way that isn’t afraid to hold anything back.

The story starts off as Krisha parks her car and attempts to locate her estranged family’s household. We’re immediately given a view into her state of mind and it sets the tone for the disorienting events to come. She talks to herself, talks to inanimate objects, get irritated at inconveniences, and demonstrates a familiar but distant intimacy with her estranged family who all greet her with varied degrees of enthusiasm. From the loving embrace of her sister Robyn to the strange aloofness one of the youngsters, Trey, the movie makes it obvious that there’s a lot of history between Krisha and her kin and that she’s been gone for a long time. You know there’s something wrong there.

I love the way the movie is cut, scored, and presented. It’s a visually unique experience that makes the “estranged family member returns story” far more interesting. Events are inter cut and presented to keep a constant sense of action and uneasiness at play. Every time you feel safer in one scenario, the tension in another inter cut scene starts to ratchet up. There are lots of tracking shots and arc shots that are used to prolong this sense of uneasiness and create disorientation. In particular, one kitchen scene involving an arc shot got me feeling panicked and frantic as it constantly accelerated in speed. The music compliments what’s happening on the screen by accentuating the progression of Krisha’s journey. Early on we’re bombarded by discordant noises that make it impossible to focus yourself. It’s almost like Krisha can’t handle the intensity of coming back to her family and we’re right there with her. Later on music plays, the lyrics serving as a poetic backdrop to Krisha’s journey and transformation up till that point. Sound always has a purpose. All together the audio-visual elements breathe new life into the genre by taking commonplace Thanksgiving activities and functions far more tense than they need to be . It’s an an assault on the senses that never gives you a moment to settle in.

What sells the movie is just how real it all feels. Every performance is on point, but Krisha absolutely steals the show. From the way she looks to the way she carries herself, you can tell that she’s gone through a lot. Her panic translates in her frantic movements and uneasy quiet. The family interactions accurately convey the damage abusive family relationships can have. Members are constantly shown apart from Krisha, having moved forward in spite of her absence. Family interactions with Krisha are varied. Some are kind and open like Robyn, while others are more suspicious like Doyle, Krisha’s brother-in-law. It all comes together to paint a picture of the places families are willing to go to help those who fall of the beaten path. Simultaneously it doesn’t try and sugarcoat the trauma that comes from the abuse at play. The nuance hit me in how familiar it reminded me of my own experiences.

I only wish the movie was a bit longer, because I was interested in some of the hinted family drama that never gets revealed. I thought fleshing out certain character relations a bit more would make later conversations more relevant, but I never felt like I had a lack of information, so this might be more of a nitpick.

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TLDRKrisha follows its titular namesake as she tries to re-integrate with her estranged family during Thanksgiving. However Shults has no intention of making this your typical rehabilitation story filled with positivity and Hallmark cliches. From the shot composition to the score, the movie injects every scene with palpable tension as we watch with baited breath, hoping Krisha can right the ship. This is a nerve-wracking and emotionally painful trip, but is definitely one worth taking.
Grade A+

Go to Page 2 for my spoiler-full thoughts!

Review: The Neon Demon

Director(s)Nicolas Winding Refn
Principal CastElle Fanning as Jesse
Jena Malone as Ruby
Bella Heathcote as Gigi
Abbey Lee as Sarrah
Karl Glusman as Dean
Keanu Reeves as Hank
Release Date 2016
Running Time117 minutes

The Neon Demon follows Jesse, an aspiring young model looking to make it big in Los Angeles. Armed with only her beauty and charm, the budding star finds herself caught up in the machinations of an industry that simultaneously craves and detests the beauty she possesses. The movie deftly tackles exploitation, sexuality, beauty, and innocence in a way that brings lights the very real issues plaguing the fashion industry while offering a deep dive into the way humanity approaches beauty and aesthetic.

Jesse, on top of being the protagonist, is a stand in for beauty in a more metaphysical sense. Characters constantly talk about her attractive qualities, positioning themselves in relation to her on a spectrum ranging from deification to envy and hatred. It gives every interaction subtext about the way we perceive and interact with beauty, both in destructive and productive capacities. Some of us view beauty as invaluable as physical health, and as such, practices like plastic surgery are necessary to a “good” life. For others, beauty is vain and we should seek to move away from it. It’s all a question of what we think of ourselves. On top of that, we have to balance those ideas with how we think others view them as well. Each of these threads are explored in detail and in relation with one another culminating in a truly unique horror movie about the aspects of our relationship with beauty.

Speaking of beauty, the movie is mesmerizing to listen and watch. Shots are oozing with color and neon blues and reds are used to symbolize egoism and danger respectively. There are mirrors in almost every shot and they’re utilized in every way possible, from background props to make dialogue scenes more memorable to doorways for exploring the human condition. The way the movie is cut gives it a dream like feeling in key moments and adds a constant sense of tension in others. Refn knows how to play with expectations and uses editing misdirects to get memorable and well-earned scares. The movie is violent and gory, but only when it needs to be, so I didn’t think it came off as gratuitous. I got lost in every scene because of Cliff Martinez’s music. It’s synthy and hypnotic, completely lulling you into the energy of whatever is happening on screen. I felt scared, excited, wanted to dance, and completely got into the zone. There’s a lot of range in the music and it’s on of the best soundtracks I’ve heard in a movie. The sound editing is also on point and there’s not always music blaring, despite the obvious opportunities for it. When it suits the movie, silence and a distinct chime motif are used to thematically link pieces and add more tension. Put together, it’s an audio-visual experience that’s hard to beat. It knows when to assault the senses and when to hold back for the right moment.

Every performance is on point, but Fanning really shines as the lead of this giallo (big Suspiria vibes) inspired trip through the fashion industry. She starts off innocent and timid trying to find her footing. Never once does she feel manipulative or like an annoying goody two shoes. Instead, she feels almost like beauty personified, trying to make it in a cutthroat industry with only her looks at her side. Watching her transform into a more confident, narcissistic individual is harrowing but entertaining, because it feels natural from a storytelling/psychological perspective and supernatural from a thematic perspective.

My problems with the movie have to do more with the execution of the third act. There’s a lot of grounded realism in the first two acts with some more surreal elements, but by the time the third act rolls around it feels like a total switch. The story just starts going and gets really…. wow. It’s certainly effective and memorable, but I thought that it came off as too allegorical instead of balanced like story had been up to that point.

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TLDRThe Neon Demon is a psychological horror movie about the awful things that await a young model with big aspirations in Los Angeles and as an allegory about humanity’s relationship with beauty wrapped up in a slick neon infused color palette and an synthy mesmerizing soundtrack. If you like more surreal horror that focuses on atmosphere as opposed to jump scares or are interesting an fascinating take on narcissism, this is the movie for you.
Grade A+

Review: The Love Witch

Director(s)Anna Biller
Principal CastSamantha Robinson as Elaine Parks
Laura Waddell as Trish
Jared Sanford as Gahan
Gian Keys as Griff
Release Date 2016
Running Time120 minutes

In honor of Valentine’s day, I present my review of The Love Witch, a nuanced feminist story about love, gender, agency, desire, and their infinite intersections. The movie follows Elaine, a witch who moves to California in the hopes of finding someone to love. Once there, she uses magic and rituals to aid in her goal, but is met with comedic and tragic consequences.

I’m someone who loves feminism in media (when it’s done well) and Biller’s story masterfully navigates themes within the larger genre. At first it can feel like there are too many heavy-handed comments and not-so-subtle hints about what characters are thinking. However, by the end of the movie it’s obvious that a lot of what was said was done in an effort to control narrative sources of ambiguity and make discussion more interesting/accessible. If more people are on the same page about initial events and character motivations, then the subsequent discussion can go more in depth on the what actually matters- the themes.

The Love Witch analyzes the way desire and love are positioned by society and in relation to sex/gender. Elaine accepts her position as eye-candy and utilizes the adoration and affection she receives to try and find love, a reciprocal exchange in her mind. She gives men exactly what they think they want, in the hopes that it’ll get them to be what she needs them to, but is always met with some kind of issue. The men get too emotional and she can’t relate, or they’re touchy and she’s uncomfortable. Watching her navigate the matrix of power relations is interesting because of how she is forced to don her sexuality and make use of it simultaneously. She is shamed and praised and the movie presents her choice as a path, not the only option. The way she approaches love is juxtaposed with other views, culminating in a discussion that will leave you thinking about what love really is.

The movie never feels preachy because it excels in developing situations in multifaceted ways. There are women and men who do “good” and “bad” things. It’s all couched in your perspective of what proper behavior looks like. Thankfully, the movie does a good job in making you question those interpretations, and going through that journey ends up revealing a lot about your own biases. The real horror is discovering these aspects of ourselves/society and thinking about how deep they run in constructing the bounds of what is and isn’t permissible behavior.

I love how the movie integrates witches into the world, in an unique and wholly original package. Witchcraft exists as a kind of protected religion in this world. Witches go about everyday life wearing their witch garb, selling and buying witchcraft related products at stores, holding/attending witchcraft lessons/rituals, etc. It’s a realistic take that gives the movie its own personality while keeping the more supernatural elements grounded. The story’s take on magic,love magic in particular, allows for imaginative and hypnotic horror sequences and also serves to expand the layers of the themes. Costume and set design is pristine and ties everything together, radiating color and personality. Elaine’s house for example, is filled with beautiful art work and colors that leap out at you so there’s always something to look at when she’s working in there. This can be said for all the different environments the movie navigates, each bursting with personality and a bright eye-catching color palette. I found myself drawn into each scene, completely immersed by the beauty of what I was seeing.

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TLDRThe Love Witch is a deep dive into the way we approach love and the methods by which society and gender determine the same. Despite feeling a bit heavy-handed with its dialogue, the movie isn’t preachy and manages to be visually stunning and thematically poignant. The story of a love-struck witch, desperate for a Prince Charming, willing to make use of her sexuality and prowess with spells to charm men is funny, visually intoxicating, scary, and innovative in how it flips the traditional final girl horror cliche. Highly recommend to fans of feminist media or anyone who wants a horror movie about love.
Grade A+

Review: Mandy

Director(s)Panos Cosmatos
Principal CastNicholas Cage as Red
Andrea Riseborough as Mandy Bloom
Linus Roache as Jeremiah Sand
Release Date 2018
Running Time121 minutes

This is a hard movie to review and not spoil because so much of the experience requires thorough explanation to properly make sense of the sheer scope of what’s being communicated. Mandy is almost best understood as two separate stories: one about a couple, Red and Mandy, and their tranquil domestic experience being ripped apart by a drugged out cult; second about Red’s revenge tour after the events of what happens. Both stories work to give each other weight and you come to appreciate how the movie is laid out after subsequent re-watches.

Cosmatos relishes in provoking the audience to think without ever preaching a lesson to them. There are strange, unexplainable images that’ll have you asking what everything really means. Certain shots bleed into other shots creating a surreal experience, as reality and fantasy switch without warning. In spite of this ambiguity, the movie never forgets to tell a compelling story, so the events that happen always make sense. The allegory/meaning never comes at the cost of the story, which gives the movie an edge over something like mother!, a movie I think tackles very similar subject matter. Yes, there’s a clear thriller revenge story, but underneath the surface Mandy is an exploration of humanity’s relation to transcendence (God) and Nature. Mandy, Red, and the leader of the cult, Jeremiah are all stand-ins for different explorations of these ideas and watching them clash and evolve seems to be a Cosmatos’s prophecy for our future. Saying any more would spoil the movie, but if you enjoy discussions of this sort or liked mother! ,this movie has a lot to offer.

The movie is a stunning audio-visual experience that’s dripping in personality. There are very distinct colors and hues that appear during key moments and the way those colors are tied and utilized in relation to each other lends itself to an poignant style that conveys a lot of meaning at the same time. During the third act, there are evocative animations that make use of the color scheme but also give the movie a distinct fairy tail feeling. There are fun over-the-top action scenes that make full use of the R Rating. Sound design is mesmerizing and the score always manages to lull you into the screen, no matter the circumstance.

Cosmatos is one of the few directors I’ve seen who seems to know how to channel Cage’s ferocity and absurd antics. He gives the actor the room to breathe and really take over the movie in the latter half of it. To Cage’s credit, he’s reserved, calm, and seems like he’s trying to recover from trauma in the first half of the movie, so his snap into his more familiar high energy acting patterns feels cathartic. Watching him absolutely lose it and throw all his energy into his revenge scheme is a hell of a lot of fun and is well worth the slower first half. Similarly, Riseborough gives off an life-affirming vibe from the moment she’s introduced and compliments Cage well. Their relationship is authentic and cute to watch develop, so later developments hit as hard as they need to.

My only issue with the movie is this one sub-plot that feels incredibly out of place. It’s the transition point between the two stories and ruins the immersive hypnotic feeling the movie had been building up till that point. It also dumps a lot of exposition which I thought was a bit too much information. It’s not all bad and has some funny moments, but I wish it didn’t happen so I could have just stayed in the zone from start to finish.

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TLDRMandy is a neon infused revenge thriller about a man on a quest for vengeance looking for members of the drugged out gang that intruded on his peaceful, loving relationship. It’s entertaining, stylish, and dripping with subtext about humanity’s relationship to religion and the environment.
Grade A+

I have a more in depth piece about this coming soon, so check back later for a spoiler discussion.

Review: The Witch

Director(s)Robert Eggers
Principal CastAnya Taylor-Joy as Thomasin
Ralph Ineson as William
Kate Dickie as Katherine
Harvey Scrhimshaw as Caleb
Ellie Grainger as Mercy
Lucas Dawson as Jonas
Release Date2015
Running Time 93 minutes

After I had first seen The Witch, I was convinced the movie I saw and the general audience saw were completely different, because there’s absolutely no way someone could see this masterpiece and walk away thinking it’s only at 58% (as per Rotten Tomatoes audience score). Eggers’s period piece set in Puritanical times is a well-crafted, deeply layered story, that examines the deterioration of an incredibly religious family that finds themselves dealing with crises of faith and the very real threat of witches in the forest around them.

There’s no time wasted establishing the stakes and rules of the world the lead family finds themselves in. After William, the patriarch, refuses to bend to his community’s religious views, decrying them as sacrilege, his family finds themselves exiled, forced to find a new home in the wilderness. Soon after disaster strikes, the family finds themselves assaulted by the presence of supernatural happenings, a sense of constant disarray, maddening paranoia, and severe blows to their faith in the Almighty.

Eggers really nails the look and feel of the New England world we find ourselves within. The costumes all feel and look accurate and the subsequent way they get dirtied or marred with impure elements makes the movie feel gritty and rugged. Dialogue is on point and you can tell that there was a lot of effort put into keeping things honest and precise. I have found the experience to be better after watching the movie with subtitles, just so I could see all the dialogue, but after reading it I can confirm it really is as good as I thought it was. All this attention to detail ensures that are no distracting anachronisms that would otherwise distract us from the drama at play. I found myself completely immersed in the world around our lead family and as a result was completely engrossed in every little moment and action. I never felt the effects of the slower pacing, because I was lost in the experience of watching the family struggle against their obstacles.

Every character is fleshed out and feels like an integral part of the world. Anya Taylor-Joy absolutely kills it as Thomasin and sells the conflict integral to her character’s core. There are tons of close-up shots of her face, each demonstrating her reaction to the events around her. She manages to balance teen angst with religious turmoil culminating in a well-developed spiritual and emotional journey. The exploration of her characters growth as a guilty “sinner” combined with the period’s treatment of women lends itself to an interesting feminist journey that offers some nuanced thoughts about community, agency, and the relationship between women and children. Ineson’s portrayal of a religious man, too fueled by his ego to compromise on what counts as scripture, but so genuinely caring for his family that he sheds tears for their sake, strikes a strange blow at expectations. You’d think someone so hotheaded that they’d let their family get kicked out of a community would be prone to bursts of rage and insolence, but William comes off as a man just trying to do what he personally thinks is best for the family, even if he’s incapable of slowing down long enough to figure out what that is. Dicke is great as the mother, Katherine, and emotes her weariness and fatigue to great effect. Her latter interactions with Joy and Ineson are some of the most dramatic moments in the movie and add to the discourse on the place of women. Scrhimshaw is great as Caleb, the middle child of the family, and absolutely steals the show in latter portions of the movie, channeling some transcendental acting in a scene you won’t soon forget. Grainger and Dawson have fairly convincing child performances and kept their own in the serious setting.

Speaking of setting , did I mention that the movie looks and sounds amazing? Mark Korven’s score is absolutely ethereal and makes moments pop when it comes into play. It never tries to take a scene over. It only exists to accompany the eerie feeling and tense atmosphere. You really notice it because the movie is silent for the most part, choosing to focus on long shots that drive home the emotions underlying the scene. The movie employs a series of closeup shots, which give you great mental pictures of what’s running through the characters’ heads. You can gaze into their eyes, notice the way their face darts and moves, and see what’s happening underneath.

Finally, the movie is rich with themes but works as a surface-level story as well. The narrative is tight and filled with believable characterization. The presence of the supernatural is confirmed early on, because the focus of the horror is the unwinding family dynamic. Each character’s relation to their faith is altered/exacerbated because of the family’s expulsion from the colony, so the whole unit experiences a discordant crisis of faith. The events in the story would be horrifying if you were a devout Christian living back in those times and living through them would be a real hell. That gives the movie a layer of historical nuance that grounds its fears into the world the characters live in. The reason I can still remember the shocking moments from The Witch is because they happen sparingly, are never done for pure shock value,and add to the theme or previous character threads. There’s a purpose to each scare which gives the movie tons of re-watch value. It’s a movie you can watch to watch, or watch to analyze, and if you’re someone who enjoys slower paced movies, there’s a lot to get out of this.

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TLDRThe Witch is a masterful period horror that examines the disintegration of an exiled Puritan family forced to find a new life for themselves in the abandoned woods. Historically accurate dialogue, immaculate costume design, an ethereal and well-placed score, and gorgeous symmetrical close ups await those of you who can deal with a slower movie that relies on atmosphere instead of jump scares. The movies treatment of religion, ideology, and feminist thought are interesting and anyone interesting in watching those ideas intersect need to give this a try.
Grade A+

There’s no spoiler section- I’ll be posting a more full analysis at a later time.

Review: Stree

Director(s)Amar Kaushik
Principal CastShraddha Kapoor as the mysterious woman
Rajkummar Rao as Vicky
Aparshakti Kurana as Bittu
Abishek Banerjee as Jaana
Pankaj Tripathi as Rudra
Release Date 2018
Running Time128 minutes

This highly slept on horror comedy follows Vicky, a tailor with genius abilities who becomes smitten with an unknown woman who shows up during his town’s esoteric festival/ritual meant to ward off a man-snatching spirit aptly named Stree (which means woman in Hindi). As the supernatural situation gets more tense, suspicions run high, as everyone is desperate to find a way to stop the abductions. The movie expertly plays with audience expectations, subverting them in ways that are clever and well laid out by a directorial bread crumb trail. Watching the mystery unfold is a treat and the movie will keep you on edge up till the very end.

If you’re familiar with Indian politics,the country’s social setting, or grew up with family/close friends that filled your heads with stories about those things, the movie will stand out even more in how well it effectively utilizes both horror and comedy to critique gender roles, religious manipulation, and the discrepancy between the customs of different generations. By leading into these serious discussions with a comedic touch, the horrifying “lessons” ,so to say, both highlight the repercussions of actions that aren’t taken seriously today, while never coming off as too preachy. From urinating on the wall, to prostitution, to sex talks, the movie knows how to approach the broad variety of topics it wants to talk about with great care. Tonal balance is definitely here and the movie never loses focus on what it’s trying to do.

There’s more than one moment that reminded me of interactions I had in my youth, and I laughed at how genuine and real the dialogue sounded. This is obviously helped by the great performances from the leading cast members. Rao absolutely nails it as Vicky, a dopey, awkward, romantic with aspirations of moving out and ahead in life. He’s comical enough to laugh at, but not so comical to render the issues he goes through less serious. Kapoor captures the ambivalence of the mysterious woman to a T and constantly kept me guessing as to what really drove her. Every side character is interesting from Vicky’s father to the town’s resident bookkeeper. Even if you can’t keep track of all the names, they’re all written with a real humaneness so you care about them. I can still tell you exactly what each character was about, so that’s a credit to how fleshed out everyone comes off.

If you’re someone who likes Bollywood, you’ll be glad to know this movie manages to incorporate the flair and passion you normally get in an mainstream Indian movie, but ties it down into a wholly unique plot that demonstrates serious writing ingenuity. There’s even an item song that’s incorporated both as an injection of a fun vibrant energy and as a way to highlight the themes at play. Offering a unique story is hard enough but managing to do that while playing to convention is something else. Sound design is excellent and the music can be scary and exciting at the same time. By playing up the normal romcom ideas we expect to see and adding a supernatural twist to the background those affairs take place in, the movie manages to keep the audience constantly guessing what’s going to happen. There’s more than one moment that had me nervously laughing, both because of the comedic tension of the situation at play and the fear that something horrendous would happen.

Despite my glowing praise, there are some plot elements that stand out as being less developed than others. It makes sense given the breadth of what the movie is trying to do, but those little moments feel like they could’ve really cemented some of the themes. Thankfully, a sequel is due to come out , so I’m excited to see how this creative team will answer or develop these threads.

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TLDRStree is a one of a kind horror comedy that mixes traditional Bollywood elements with a one of a kind ghost story. If you’re familiar with India’s culture/social history, the movie really shines as a critique of some of the country’s most pressing issues. With the sequel coming out soon, there’s no better than than now to watch this masterpiece.
Grade A+

Go to Page 2 for my spoiler-full thoughts!

Review: Gerald's Game

Director(s)Mike Flanagan
Principal CastCarla Gugino as Jessica
Chiara Aurelia as Young Jessica
Bruce Greenwood as Gerald
Henry Thomas as Tom
Kate Siegel as Sally
Carel Struycken as Moonlight Man
Release Date 2017
Running Time103 minutes

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- Mike Flanagan is one of the best horror directors in the game right now and this adaptation is the some of the best proof. Gerald’s Game is one of the few King stories I’ve read so when I saw Flangan was directing, I was intrigued in seeing how he’d adapt the unconventional narrative style the story uses. Flanagan and Jeff Howard both deserve applause for synthesizing the ideas of the novel in a suspenseful and easy to digest way.

The story follows a couple, Gerald and Jessica, as they go off on a trip to rekindle the spark in their marriage. After handcuffing Jessica to the bed and downing a few viagra, Gerald tries to initiate some rape-play which Jessica finds too disturbing to continue anymore. After she rejects his advances, he dies suddenly of a heart attack and she finds herself trapped in an abandoned house, handcuffed to a bed, and completely alone. The initial build-up to all of this is handled with an great eye for detail. Issues that come to plague Jessica in her struggle to survive are set up early on, so subsequent reveals and twists feel sweet and satisfying.

The story primarily takes place through a series of conversations Jessica has with projections of her subconscious. Representations of herself, her late husband, traumatic memories of her family and the situation that they placed her in, and nightmare scenarios plague her as she attempts to make out what’s real and what’s relevant to keeping her alive. As Jessica struggles to survive, she’s forced to navigate her trauma and the way she’s attempted to handle it throughout her life. Her story goes to dark places and if is presented with the respect and seriousness it deserves. There are hard scenes to watch, but they’re never exploitative or voyeuristic. They exist to remind you of the uncomfortable truth, but aren’t visceral or provocative outside of that. The deplorable nature of the act is horrifying enough.

A lot of the movie rides on Carla Gugino’s performance. She’s the protagonist and has to play a women who goes through some heartbreaking and emotionally complex realizations about herself and the way she’s dealt with deep seated trauma. Watching the layers of herself slowly fade away to the core of who she is is amazing, and you can feel the intensity of her desire to get to heart of what ails her. Gugino also talks to herself for most of the movie, but breathes life into the conversation so you always feel like something’s going on. The entire movie is her talking to projections of her subconscious, one of the avatars being her subconcious personified as a clone of herself. She manages to be just as convincing talking to herself ( aka nothing in the room) as she does when she talks to Gerald. It’s a testament to how well she threw herself into the role.

I love this movie because I never thought it would be something that could be adapted (a fairly common sentiment). The way that the ideas and discussions are streamlined into easy to follow story-lines gives the movie a more complete and tight feeling. Rarely do I like a movie for than a book, but this is one of those rare exceptions. The adaptation gives Jessica far more agency, which is important because the heart of the movie is learning how to deal with trauma. More agency means more ability to introspectively act and engage in a more thorough catharsis. Her journey through her trauma is moving and never comes at the cost of the more exciting elements of the story. The hard to imagine gory scene from the novel makes its way here and is just as hard to watch. It all just comes to demonstrate how well the adaptation understood the source material and the strengths of a film over a book. It only takes what it needs and does its best to cover the sentiments of what it doesn’t directly copy over.

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TLDRGerald’s Game is one of the best King adaptations to date. It’s a touching tale about overcoming trauma and reclaiming agency. There are certainly visceral scares, but the real horror comes from understanding of the way we try and deal with our pain.
Grade A+

Go to Page 2 for my spoiler-full thoughts!