Misery (1990): A Chapter of Terror by The Number One Fan

Misery (1990)

Casts: Kathy Bates, James Caan
Directed by: Rob Reiner
Duration: 107 minutes
Based on: Misery by Stephen King (1987)

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It’s been a year or more since I last watched a horror movie. I don’t remember what it was, but I think I stopped watching that genre since I often spend my time alone at the apartment and I don’t want to have any nightmares when my housemates are not around. So I watched thriller or psycho movies instead, they still give me chills down my spine. At least, I know they are just made-up characters so I will be okay after watching it.

I recently watched Misery (1990), based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name. The whole movie will mainly revolve around two characters, a novelist Paul Sheldon (James Caan) and the author’s fan Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates). Sheldon was saved by Wilkes after a car accident that happened in the middle of the snowstorm when he was on his way to send his finished new novel manuscript to his literary agent. Wilkes, a nurse, rescued the unconscious writer and brought him home and treated his wounds and fractures.

At first, everything was fine. Wilkes, claimed to be his number one fan, provided a comforting treatment; feeding him and giving him the medicine he needed. The two began to talk and Sheldon let her read his unpublished novel. Awkwardly, Wilkes disapprove the new novel because of the profanity in it. She then read his last romance novel with her favorite heroine Misery Chastain in it. When she reached the end of the novel, terror and brutality began a new chapter in Sheldon’s life.

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There’s nothing new under the sun. Yet, some writers are able to recreate things into something new from different perspectives. Stephen King said that he was inspired by a short story by Evelyn Waugh called “The Man Who Loved Dickens”. And then he fell asleep on New York – London flight and after that he couldn’t stop thinking about his new inspiration for the novel Misery.

In Waugh’s story, there’s a man who was held prisoner by a chief who loved Charles Dickens and he made him read the stories. I couldn’t help wondering… Did King position himself in that possibility? What if a writer was held captive by someone who really admire him? By his obsessive number one fan, maybe? Then Annie Wilkes came to his mind.

Misery was smooth in the beginning and gradually increases the horror by showing what an emotional roller-coaster that Wilkes could be. Who would have thought that a God-fearing woman who loves reading romantic novels could turn brutal and do inhumane things? King definitely did and his novel was well-transformed into this movie.

Kathy Bates’ performance in this movie was brilliant. I couldn’t think of any other actress who could do it better than her. One time she looked innocent and cheerful. Another time, she would appear out of nowhere with a burning rage in her eyes and scare the shit out of me.

The wobbling scene where the author Paul Sheldon was trying to get back into his room was the part that got me half screaming. James Caan convincingly translated every fight-or-flight scene in this movie as if we really witnessed his sufferings before our eyes.

Misery is a movie you must watch if you are in need of adrenaline rush that don’t involve people wearing masks or invisible creatures whose appearances are signalled by shocking background music.

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1 Comment

  • Jeri October 24, 2017 at 4:11 am

    wow… I like this movie, and its “brother” Cujo and Pet Sematary :-). nice.


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