Misery (1990)

Based on the Novel of the same name by Stephen King

Paul Sheldon, best-selling author of a series of regency romance novels featuring heroine Misery Chastain is driving home from his remote Colorado lodge after completing his latest book, when he loses control and crashes his car during a freak blizzard. (Un)luckily for him, he is rescued and brought home by Annie Wilkes, a nurse and his “number one fan”. However, when Annie finds out that he has killed off her favourite character, Paul begins to realise that his injuries from the car crash might be the least of his worries!

Katy Bates, at that time still relatively unknown, was inspired casting as Annie and she deservedly won an Academy Award for Best Actress. To date, the only time a Stephen King adaptation has won an Oscar. Her performance genuinely still creeps me out (and sometimes make me laugh). In 2003, the American Film Institute named Annie Wilkes the seventeenth greatest villain in motion picture history in the 100 Years…100 Heroes and Villains list. James Caan turns in a low key performance as the increasingly angry and terrified Paul Sheldon, perfectly balancing Bates’ crazy. And there are supporting roles from Lauren Bacall and Richard Farnsworth.

Directed by Rob Reiner (who had previously made another successful King adaptation Stand by Me in 1986) the tension is ratcheted up nicely as …oh boy, something’s not quite right here, segues into hands-over-the face, I-can’t-watch-this, bat-shit crazy. You’ll know what I mean if you’ve seen it! It’s also darkly funny in places (or maybe that’s just me)

Misery stands the test of time as one of the best Stephan King adaptations to date. Highly recommended for fans of psychological horror – you can currently catch it on Netflix.

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