Starring: James Caan, Kathy Bates, Richard Farnsworth, Frances Sternhagen.
Running time: 107 minutes
Directed By: Rob Reiner
Written By: William Goldman
Stephen King has written many novels that have made it as feature film productions. Granted some of them are bad, but for every bad one we get a good one. Look at The Shawshank Redemption or The Shining, both brilliant. Misery will have a bad Stephen King adaptation out there because it is one of the good ones, and probably one of the most frightening.
Misery is about an author named Paul Sheldon (Caan). He is famous for his books about the lead heroine Misery Chastain. The only thing is he is bored of her and wants to write more darker and deeper stories. The Misery novel just about to be released, will be his last. He has made sure of this by killing her off at the end of the book. Determined to upgrade his writing credentials, he works on and finishes a new novel up in a secluded cabin where he writes all his novels. On his way to taking the finished novel to his agent he crashes during a freak blizzard. As he lays dying he is rescued by a random woman who happens to find him in the middle of nowhere. When Paul wakes a few days later he finds himself in a strange house with his arm in a sling and his legs boarded together. He then meets his rescuer, Annie Wilkes (Bates), 'his number one fan'.
Annie is a former nurse and begins to nurse him back to health, even giving him criticism on his new book which hasn't been read by anyone but her. She deems his new book as garbage and tells him to stick to his Misery novels. The following day the new Misery novel is released and Annie heads out to buy and read, although when she finishes it and realises her favourite heroine is dead she loses control, blaming Paul for her murder. With Paul unable to walk, he finds himself forced to write the next novel, bringing Misery back to life with the threat of his life if he doesn't. Paul must find a way of getting himself out of this house before Annie's temper becomes worse and worse.
The premise is very simple but it works so well. It does start off quite slow, with Annie's mental state slowly being revealed. It is really the last half an hour where the film really grips you and becomes horrifying. One scene towards the end had me clutching my fists together in pain and one had me yelping out loud. It brings a strange horror to the screen as there are no aliens or monsters, just this woman obsessed. Any of us could be this woman's victim and it is scary.
The acting in the film is brilliant. Caan spends most of his time bed ridden or in a wheel chair but still manages to show pain and fear through his eyes. You will be clutching your legs throughout this film, he is someone you highly sympathise with. Strangely you do with Annie Wilkes, at the start that is. Kathy Bates manages to bring a calmness to the character at the beginning and you genuinely feel she is there to help. Slowly though she begins to turn and Bates manages to show Annie's psychotic behaviour spot on and all sympathy is quickly removed from her. At first she is a disillusioned fan but becomes a psychotic monster. She really is two characters in one, and when she is angry she really is scary. She may seem like someone we all believe we can beat in strength but she is more clever than us and has already beat us to that thought. You will see what I mean at the one scene that had me squirming. I really can't get that part out my mind.
There isn't many negatives in the film. Perhaps the first hour is a little slow, but it is all worth it when the final half kicks in. The beginning shows you her layers slowly unravel and the crazier she begins to become. Bates plays the character with such believability.
It is a very good film and will have you on edge throughout. The tension is filmed brilliantly. I don't think it is the best film to have been made from a Stephen King book, The Shawshank Redemption gets my vote there, but it is definitely one of the better ones.
3.5 / 5
Next film to review: THE INTERNATIONAL