Halloween Selects: “Misery”

Misery

Before Eminem rapped about a fan obsession gone too far with 2000’s “Stan,” there was 1990’s Misery. Adapted from the 1987 Stephen King novel, it was a story that had every author second guessing meet and greets for a while. Director Rob Reiner was able to use the mostly isolated setting of a bedroom to his advantage. The characters of Paul Sheldon (James Caan) and Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates) came to life because the acting was so believable. There were no ghosts, no ghouls, no exorcisms. The “horror” that occurred was being helpless in a situation where there seems to be no escape. Where your art could essentially lead to your downfall.

The mastery in how Kathy Bates portrayed Annie Wilkes is how she was able to flip the switch of emotions. One minute, she’s concerned for Paul’s well being, the next she bursts in anger. Not to mention, with one of the most memorable lines in a thriller. “He didn’t get out of the COCKADOODIE CAR!” There were a couple of other characters as the search went on for Paul Sheldon, but it was really about the relationship between Paul and Annie. The performances of Caan and Bates really took hold of these characters where you were on the edge of your chair rooting for a reprieve or anticipating the near miss of Paul getting caught.

Annie kills Paul’s spirit in a couple ways. There’s a point in the movie where she makes Paul burn the manuscript Paul was working on. There’s something heartbreaking about watching your own art go up in smoke. You really feel the anger and resentment. In the beginning of the movie, Paul is ready to venture into a post-Misery career. Unfortunately, when you create something, sometimes you don’t The other, the “hobbling”. This was way before Saw or Hostel. It’s a rather extreme way to show that you love someone. Just when Paul healed up, there goes his means of ever getting out. With each attempt of Paul’s escape, you learned more about Annie’s unhinged past.

In the end, Paul was able to use Annie’s obsession with his character against her. The last frame of the movie was chilling itself. While Paul did escape, now every fan took on the form of Annie Wilkes. It’s a movie that was effective in bringing the King’s macabre tale of unchecked devotion to the big screen.

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures

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Author: Murjani Rawls View all posts by
Writer | Photographer | Beast

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