Misery (1990) Director: Rob Reiner
“I’m your number one fan…”
This twisted and delightfully awkward horror film is based on the 1987 Stephen King novel of the same name.
The film tells the story of a successful novel series writer, Paul Sheldon (James Caan) who escapes to the remote Colorado countryside to write in the winter. He is hoping to finish out his popular “Misery” series. However, while driving out on the road during a blizzard, his car slides off the freeway and badly injures Mr. Sheldon. He awakens in someone’s home, an old-fashioned home that is owned by a mentally unstable and obsessive fan of his writings named Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates). She keeps him bed-ridden and as time goes by, she becomes less and less stable. She forces him to continue writing and re-writing his story, and when he tries to escape (in one of the most brutal scenes in the film) she “hobbles” his feet, re-breaking his legs as punishment for leaving his room and stealing a knife. She kills the local sheriff when he becomes suspicious, and Paul devises a plan in which he lights Annie on fire, smashes her head with his typewriter, and as they scramble on the floor he grabs one of her figurines and bashes her face with it, killing her. In the closing scene, he has returned to New York and is noticed by a fan in a restaurant. He cannot get the image of Annie out of his mind.
Misery is a truly excellent horror film. It is unique in that almost the entirety of the film takes place within the confines of Annie’s remote house in Colorado. Kathy Bates’s acting is truly incredible. The camera angles as she leers down over Paul’s bed, clearly reveal both her mental state as well as her total control. We, the audience, are injured like Paul Sheldon and are powerless to her whims, yet we long desperately to escape her clutches.