It feels tempting to say after the election in November that we live in an age outwardly proud of its bully mentality - the bad guy won, and he won by climbing on the backs of the downtrodden and happily pissing on their heads. The weak and the wounded, the exploited, they're nothing but grist for a 24/7 outrage mill now.
But can we really say this is anything new? Yeah the face the boogeyman is wearing today is an especially cartoonish one - bloated and frozen in a pompous grimace of piggish exemption - but this horror's a horror as old as time. Just ask any minority ever. They know what's out there, lurking.
Gerald's Game tells the story of a woman abused her whole life, worn down to the plastic shell of a person, and how at her weakest point, at rock bottom, here come the jackals. They smell it. The horrors. The sniff out the gristle, the exquisite tears - to them a collection of bones and shiny things glistening inside a briefcase, our pain. It sparkles and gives them their meaning, the nightmare men in roaming the night - life to them is other people's agony torn off in chunks between their teeth, one bite at a time.
At the Gates of Hell stands a dog, multi-headed, and he gives us quite a fright. But he is not Hell - he is not the devil himself. Cerberus is only an omen of the real horror inside - the ones that feast upon our suffering stand on two legs. And it is they that grind us down, down, into dust, all the better to swallow our souls.
King's story understood this - Jessie's journey is a journey through Hell itself, through all the torment that men can thrust upon her body and her mind - and the film does a smashing job, mostly thanks to Carla Gugino's grand slam of a full-bodied breakdown, of getting that across. By the time the choice is clear we understand - the only way out is through. Through the nightmares, through the bad memories and through the rotten meat. We will skin ourselves and start fresh, motherfuckers.