When I saw that Netflix was dramatizing one of my favourite, if lesser know, Stephen King thrillers – I knew that I had to see it. Jessie and Gerald are headed to a secluded cabin in the woods to rekindle their love life. Gerald is an obnoxious, successful lawyer and Jessie is a mild-mannered housewife. The couple encounter a stray dog on their arrival at the cabin, Jessie feeds him a couple of steaks and then they retire to the cabin. King, again, expertly utilizes the seclusion of the setting to build suspense and foreboding before anything really happens. While Jessie and Gerald are getting romantic in the bedroom, Gerald cuffs her to the bed which starts out as seemingly enjoyable until Gerald takes it to another level and starts to enact a repulsive, sexual fantasy. Jessie gets upset and tells him to stop, now this is where the movie deviated from the book – in the book Jessie knees him, he falls off the bed and he cracks his head on the floor then has a heart attack but in the movie – Gerald has a heart attack, then falls off the bed and cracks his head. The book definitely makes it harder to sympathize with Jessie as she is ultimately responsible for his death. Anyway, so with one of only two main characters killed off within the first 20 minutes – this is going to be a long slog, wrong. Jessie is visited by not only imaginary versions of herself but also of Gerald. We find out a lot of ugly details about their marriage from the two bickering, it becomes clear that Gerald thinks Jessie is just a pretty idiot and she isn’t getting out of this alive. Remember that dog? Oh yea, he starts feasting on Gerald’s corpse and there isn’t a thing that Jessie can do about it. We also come to find out different details around Jessie’s upbringing and how her father abused her at the height of solar eclipse. She promised her father that she would never tell and it is something that she has lived with her entire life.
Not only is Jessie visited by the ghost of Gerald and another version of herself, there is a hulking, disfigured man who appears at night (Moonlight Man). We don’t know for sure if he is real or fake, we assume fake because he doesn’t ever hurt Jessie nor does he try to help her. Jessie tries numerous ways to escape but finally slices her wrist on a glass and basically skins part of her hand squeezing it through one of the cuffs. This part is brutal, fair-warning. She takes the car and makes it to a neighboring cabin to safety.
The next time that we see Jessie, she is working with children who experienced the same abuse that she had in her youth. She is also doing research about a man named Raymond Andrew Joubert who was defiling corpses in the area where Jessie and Gerald were on their tragic getaway weekend. He has genetic disease that causes him to have larger features than a regular human being, making him appear quite grotesque. Jessie confronts him at a court appearance and realizes that the Moonlight Man was real and she can finally put this fear to rest.
I thought this movie (and book) was as sad as it is scary, the sacrifices that Jessie made during her lifetime only to have it end with her husband dying as a result of a weird sex game. I don’t get the eclipse thing, King uses this a couple of times in other books but it just doesn’t add anything for me – weird shit can happen during an eclipse but also at any other time. I enjoyed this adaptation and thought it did justice to a great book.
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