Thought it couldn't get worse than Pennywise ripping a small boy's arm off to eat? How about that scene from Misery in which Annie Wilkes hobbles Paul Sheldon with a hammer? There have been plenty of horrifying scenes adapted from Stephen King's work over the years, but none of these compare to one of the final sequences depicted in Gerald's Game, a new Netflix movie about kinky sex gone oh so wrong.
This Is No Game
After her husband suffers a sudden heart attack, Jessie Burlingame finds herself handcuffed to a bed in the middle of nowhere. At first, panic and horror rage war in her mind as she struggles to escape, but flashbacks to childhood abuse and visions of a ghostly visitor help spur Jessie on to survive. Eventually, Jessie realizes the physical depths that she will have to endure in order to escape and boy, do we wish she hadn't.
Risking possible death, Jessie smashes the glass from the shelf above and uses it to cut into her wrist. As if that weren't gross enough, Jessie then peels the skin from her hand all the way up to her fingers. The resulting blood loss enables her to wiggle free and escape long enough to reach the car, although Jessie does pass out briefly along the way.
This grotesque act of self-mutilation was already harrowing in #StephenKing's original book, but director Mike Flanagan arguably took things even further, surpassing the terror of the source material through one key change.
Speaking to Slash Film, the #horror maestro explained that:
"... the principle difference is the sound. I think that’s the only difference... Because we weren’t really using music in the film almost ever, all that sound design is just front and center. That’s kind of what makes it so intense. Even when I would look away while we were shooting it and when we were editing, you can’t get away from the sound. It’s some of the most uncomfortable noise and we just crank it right up. We just wanted to hear every little squish and pop and stretch. It’s gnarly stuff."
Every. Little. Squish. The likes of Hush and Oculus were horrifying in their own way, but Flanagan surpassed himself here, taking what many considered to be unfilmable, and turning it into something even more grotesque. It's no wonder then that an audience member even fainted during a screening of #GeraldsGame at the Fantastic Fest, yet Flanagan still maintains that the book is more horrifying:
"When I was reading [Gerald's Game] for the first time, I had to put the book down. It turned my stomach just reading it. Visually, I don’t think we even took it as far as he took it in the book. I think the hand/glove came just about completely off. For us we had it kind of flop back down afterwards because it was just too grizzly. I heard people say, “Oh my God, it’s even worse than described.” I don’t think it actually is."
'Degloving' Also Happens In Real Life
Whether you find the book more gruesome or still can't push that image of Carla Gugino's floppy hand skin out of your mind, it's safe to say that the real-life versions of this injury are the most horrifying of all. Described by medical professionals as "degloving," this injury is actually a type of avulsion where skin is torn away from underlying tissue, severing its blood supply completely.
While Jessie was forced to deglove herself, most injuries of this nature are caused by accidents on the road or in factories where the hand is caught by something and pulled at a slow velocity. Major surgery is usually required to replant the severed skin, but if that's not possible, then skin grafts are necessary, and sometimes even amputation.
Fortunately, Jessie was able to retain the use of her hand by the end of Gerald's Game, even if it was impaired slightly in the film's epilogue sequences. It's safe to say though that the trauma of Jessie's degloving will likely remain until the end of her days, traumatizing her just as much as a Dancing Clown ever could. Come to think of it, things could have been worse though. At least "Cujo" didn't make a meal out of Jessie's toes too.
What's the most disgusting scene ever depicted in a Stephen King adaptation? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!