Netflix's adaptation of Stephen King's 1992 suspense novel Gerald's Game seeks to chill your soul far beyond the ideals of conventional fictional suspense. The thrilling film, released on Sept. 29, offers a few creepy details that will make you wonder if the Crypt Creeper is a real serial killer. Prepare to have nightmares, because chilling character does seem to be based on an actual human being.
Gerald's Game centers around the plight of a woman, Jessie Burlingame, who suddenly finds herself alone and handcuffed to a bed after her husband dies of a heart attack during a game of sexual bondage. When Jessie realizes that she is trapped with no one around to help her, the voices inside her head begin to manifest into horrifying delusions. In the midst of all that, she meets a terrifying presence that the film refers to as the "man made of moonlight." He's a symbol of impending death and, as such, terrifies Jessie throughout her fight for survival.
It's hard to tell if the "Moonlight Man" is real or just a figment of Jessie's imagination. Eventually, it's revealed that the "man made of moonlight" was an actual a man named Raymond Andrew Joubert — a serial killer captured by the police for digging up graves and stealing from the dead. In the media, he's known as the "Crypt Creeper." And, as gruesome as it may sound, it turns out that the daunting Crypt Creeper is actually based on the true story of a real life necrophiliac, Ed Gein.
Much like the "Moonlight Man," Gein was a serial killer infatuated with the bones and skin of decomposing corpses and would adorn his home with artifacts which he exhumed from burial grounds, according to Biography. He was thus dubbed "the Butcher of Plainfield" after the revelation that he kept human organs and made articles of clothing and other accessories out of body parts.
Gein was speculated to be responsible for many disappearances within his town of Plainfield, Wisconsin, and ultimately confessed to the murders of two women in 1954. His atrocities came to light thanks to a gruesome discovery by police, who had suspicions that he was connected to the disappearance of a local hardware store owner. Biography claims that authorities were shocked to uncover a decapitated and gutted body hanging from the ceiling and, among other things, organs in jars and skulls that were turned into soup bowls.
Over the years, his horrific crimes have served as the inspiration for many well-known cinematic characters, such as Norman Bates from Psycho and Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumb of Silence of the Lambs.
In addition to the parallels with Gein, the book version of Gerald's Game is likely based on some reality, particularly in how it places strong emphasis on releasing oneself from "victim culture." In fact, it seems like no coincidence that King's book was released around the same time that The False Memory Syndrome Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to studying and providing advocacy for victims of False Memory Syndrome, was founded. FMS is a condition in which a person's identity and interpersonal relationships center on a memory of a traumatic experience that is objectively false, but that the person strongly believes occurred. Jessie's struggle in the film aligns perfectly with the description of the syndrome, so, although she wasn't based on a real person, her character may have been inspired by a real illness.
It may be hard to believe that the horror of Gerald's Game could be based on any kind of truth. However, truth is often stranger than fiction, and nowhere is that more obvious than with Gerald's Game.