God came to me last night and told me your purpose for being here. I am going to help you write a new book.
Paul Sheldon barely remembers the blinding blizzard that sent his car spinning off the road into a near fatal accident. Nor does he remember being nursed back from unconsciousness. All he does remember is waking up to the worst nightmare of his life. Rescued from the accident by his self-confessed number one fan, Paul Sheldon learns that Annie lives vicariously through is novels based on the character Misery Chastain. Grateful to Annie for saving his life, Paul allows her to be the first to read his new manuscript. From that point on it becomes increasingly clear that Annie has trouble distinguishing fact from fiction and Paul comes to the harrowing realization that he might never leave the home of Annie Wilkes alive.
I was a pretty big Stephen King fan growing up. Got into his novels in Junior High when I chose to read Cujo for a book report, and found myself hooked on Mr. King’s twisted nightmares. All through High School I devoured any and every King novel I could get my grubby mits on. So when the mass paperback edition of Misery came out the summer of 1988, you know I was over it. And on the cusp of my 17th birthday, I watched the movie adaptation on the big screen.
I still remember that wintery afternoon in the Omaha multiplex. Misery was – and still is – not only a good adaptation of the book, but as a movie it still holds up as a very tense and spine-tingling thriller about a writer and what happens when he runs across one of his biggest fans.
The story does remain pretty close to the source material, with maybe the biggest difference being one scene that was probably more effective than what happened in the book. James Caan was a good choice as the author Paul Sheldon, but the breakout here is Kathy Bates as Annie Wilkes, the unbalanced fan of his historical romances who won’t abide by dirty mouths or the death of her favorite fictional character, which happened to be named Misery.
Even after all this time, over twenty-five years since watching this in the Omaha theater in the middle of a snowy winter afternoon (you talk about ambiance), Misery still holds up as a tense, well-executed psychological thriller that’ll stick with you long after the end credits roll. Recommended watching, this is.