Horror writer-director Mike Flanagan made a name for himself with uniquely creepy films like Absentia and Oculus; this year, he's had Hush and the upcoming Ouija: Origin of Evil. He's been circling an adaptation of Stephen King's Gerald's Game since 2014, and the project is now underway thanks to Netflix. A scene from Hush. Image: imdb.com
It's no easy sell. Gerald's Game is about a woman whose husband accidentally, and most inconveniently, dies while she's playfully handcuffed to their bed in a remote cabin. Most of the story takes place in a single room, in the main character's increasingly unhinged mind.
Speaking to Rue Morgue, Flanagan initially thought it was an "unfilmable" book. But after a decade of puzzling it over, the huge King fan decided he was up to the task. Buoyed by his experience working with Netflix and Hush, where the film (about a deaf woman menaced by a ruthless intruder) is currently available for viewing, Flanagan realised he'd found the ideal outlet for the project.
It's a real challenge for financiers and distributors, who say, 'Yeah, we love your work, we love Stephen King, but this story, this particular story? We don't know how it works,' without reshaping it to fit a much more conventional structure, which I did not want to do. And Netflix, because of how well HUSH has done, said, 'We're really interested in this, and we'd like to do it the way you want to do it.'
And that eliminated the pressure of having to test-screen the movie and define the demographic that's going to watch it — all of that stuff that typically comes into the conversation when you're trying to figure out how to market a film for a wide theatrical release. It just cleared the table, so that I can make the movie I want to make. I'm hoping very much that we can get that movie up on its feet soon.
Flanagan's other long-gestating project, Before I Wake, was due out in the US on September 9 but was bumped at the last minute. Given the buzz his 1960s-set Ouija sequel is getting, though, it may finally see the light of day. Maybe... on Netflix?