Misery (1990)

9.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 9/10

Kathy Bates, James Caan


Movie Info

Movie Name:  Misery

Studio:  Castle Rock Entertainment

Genre(s):  Horror/Mystery/Suspense

Release Date(s):  November 30, 1990

MPAA Rating:  R


Hey Paul…Stick Around!

Paul Sheldon (James Caan) is the writer of a popular romance series starring his heroine Misery.  When he writes a final adventure for Misery and kills the character, his life appears to be moving forward.  A horrible accident finds Paul fighting for survival when his car slides off the road.  When he is found by Annie Wilks (Kathy Bates), Paul thinks he is lucky to be alive.  Unfortunately, Annie is Paul’s number one fan and she doesn’t like what he has cooked up for Misery.  Now Paul must write his way out of her clutches…and learns the true meaning of misery.

Directed by Rob Reiner, Misery adapts the 1987 novel by Stephen King.  The movie was acclaimed for its tense moments and turned Kathy Bates into a star winning her an Oscar (a rare feat for a horror film).


Shame if I slipped

Misery’s a tough movie to watch.  The pain of the character feels real.  The book actually was rougher with Annie lopping off his foot (I guess this could be debated because it would be one quick blow as opposed to the crippling blow she applies in the film).  It is smartly written and what could have been a dull movie keeps moving with Paul’s continuous attempts to escape Annie’s control.

Kathy Bates obviously is the star of this film.  She completely gives herself to the character and can play her goofy glee and horrific turns.  The language made up for her character to get around her rage against swearing is fun (this was also in the novel).  It definitely can be said that not many Best Actress winners has screamed “Dirty Birdy” and swung a sledge hammer at a man in a bed.


Ok…one last time!

Despite Kathy Bates’ career changing role, there is also nice work by James Caan as the tortured victim and supporting actors Richard Farnsworth as the doomed sheriff Buster and Lauren Bacall as Paul’s agent Marcia.  The movie really comes down to the relationship between Paul and Annie, and Caan and Bates really hold the screen.

Misery is a good suspenseful film.  It might not be the flashiest film, but it is strong and could have been a Hitchcock film if it had been made years before.  It is one of those cases of the actors overriding the script and film and making it better.  Annie is a great psychopath and definitely is a great turn for Bates.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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