Apparently all it takes is writing an 1,100-page novel, sitting back and waiting 31 years for it to be adapted into the highest-grossing horror movie of all time for the world to become your oyster.
Of course, since this is Stephen King we’re talking about, that oyster would no doubt haunt your dreams before torturing you and/or your loved ones.
So far this year, King’s stories had been turned into the Spike TV series “The Mist” and DirecTV’s “Mr. Mercedes,” as well as the feature film “The Dark Tower,” which not even the star power of Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba could save.
Then “IT” opened three weeks ago to a stunning $123 million, and suddenly every new Stephen King project feels like an event.
Netflix has dibs on the first two. “1922,” which stars Thomas Jane as a farmer who admits to killing his wife (Molly Parker, “House of Cards”) to keep her from selling his land and moving to the city, launches Oct. 20. First up, though, is “Gerald’s Game,” which debuted Friday and could do for bondage what “Jaws” did for swimming in the ocean.
Based on King’s 1992 novel, “Gerald’s Game” follows the Burlingames, Gerald (Bruce Greenwood) and Jessie (Carla Gugino), who head to a remote vacation home to try to rekindle the sparks in their 11-year relationship.
For Jessie, that means a nightgown so new it still has the price tag on it. For Gerald, it’s a pair of handcuffs not even Houdini could escape. “I’ve gotta say, I was expecting, you know, more novelty things, like velvet or silk or something,” she tells him, nervously. “Oh, no. These are the real deal,” Gerald responds. “The others can just break if you get going too hard.”
If that’s not the first sign of trouble, that moment certainly comes when Gerald refuses her pleas to uncuff each hand from its reinforced bedpost. Since the nearest house is a half-mile away, he even makes her scream for help just to spice things up.
Then he has a heart attack and dies right on top of her.
At this point, she’s basically James Caan in “Misery,” except her feet still work and Kathy Bates is never coming for her.
The key to those handcuffs is in the bathroom. Gerald’s phone is maddeningly just out of toe’s reach. The front door and most of the windows are open, so the stray dog that Jessie lovingly fed $200 worth of Kobe beef wanders in to, every so often, chew on a piece of what’s left of Gerald. And, after hours of hallucinations and dehydration, something that may or may not be death itself — and may or may not even be real — begins lurking in the corner.
Directed and co-written by Mike Flanagan (“Oculus,” “Ouija: Origin of Evil”), along with his frequent collaborator Jeff Howard, “Gerald’s Game” is a study of repressed memories, childhood traumas, and just how far a person will go to survive.
Without spoiling anything, there’s a scene that very nearly made me lose my dinner all over my laptop.
Now that Hollywood is back to gobbling up his stories in a way it hasn’t since the ’90s, back when you could barely go a sweeps month without a new King miniseries on ABC, the author’s fans truly have something to shout about.
And scream, cower and get sick on their laptops about.
Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence @reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4567. Follow @life_onthecouch on Twitter.
More King is coming
While a movie or TV version of “The Stand” seemingly always will be in some stage of development, here are six other Stephen King projects on the horizon:
“Castle Rock”: Scott Glenn, Sissy Spacek and Pennywise himself, Bill Skarsgard, star in Hulu’s original psychological-horror series, executive produced by J.J. Abrams, that’s set in the fictional Maine town where many of King’s stories take place.
“8”: The production company behind “Narcos” and “Hannibal” is developing this adaptation of King’s 2008 novella “N.,” which will focus on three teenagers in 1992 who escape from the power of eight stones containing an ancient evil. “Lights Out” and “Annabelle: Creation” director David F. Sandberg will helm the pilot.
“Sleeping Beauties”: Anonymous Content, which produces “13 Reasons Why” and “Mr. Robot,” is creating a series based on the new book King wrote with his son, Owen, about the strange goings-on in an Appalachian women’s prison.
“Firestarter”: Writer Akiva Goldsman (“The Dark Tower”) is partnering with low-budget horror-meisters Blumhouse (the “Purge,” “Insidious” and “Sinister” franchises) to remake the 1984 Drew Barrymore movie.
“Suffer the Little Children”: A film version of the short story about a schoolteacher who notices something supernaturally wrong with her students was announced last month.
“It: Chapter Two”: The Losers Club will return Sept. 6, 2019.
What to watch
■ After more than six years away, America’s favorite malcontent, Larry David, returns to spread more misery in the ninth season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” (10 p.m. Sunday, HBO).
■ The X-Men spinoff “The Gifted” (9 p.m. Monday, Fox) stars Stephen Moyer (“True Blood”) and Amy Acker (“Person of Interest”) as parents who learn their teenagers are mutants, then must rely on an underground network of similarly powered young people to keep their family safe from Sentinel Services.
■ The daughter of a high-profile police drama’s producer (Kyra Sedgwick) goes missing in the serialized series “Ten Days in the Valley” (10 p.m. Sunday, ABC).
■ A former LAPD detective (Craig Robinson, “The Office”) and an ex-astrophysics professor (Adam Scott, “Parks and Recreation”) are recruited by a secret government agency to save the planet from aliens in the comedy “Ghosted” (8:30 p.m. Sunday, Fox).