Misery Deserves Company
And by that I mean a bigger fanbase. Yes, it’s another Stephen King horror film featuring a mediocre writer as a main character, but it’s got some solid themes going for it. Helplessness, a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” antagonist, and some sudden but slightly predictable twists. I won’t say it’s a high-grade movie, but I will tell you that it’s a fun watch when you’re in the mood for a classic horror flick.
Paul Sheldon is our protagonist here, finishing up the latest of his best-selling Misery books in his Colorado lodge. He’s going through his novel-finishing ritual, then ends up crashing his car in a blizzard and being saved by retired nurse Annie Wilkes, who just so happens to be his self-proclaimed number one fan. She takes him into her home, sets him up in one of her beds, and seems generally pleasant at first. She gives Paul Novril, a painkiller, and tells him about how much she loves his books.
THEN she finds out that he’s ending the series and killing Misery with the latest book. That’s when she starts tormenting the poor crippled writer. She makes him burn another novel, one about his decadent childhood, though not before threatening to burn him if he refused. She uses a sledgehammer to break both of his ankles when he makes his first wheelchair escape attempt.
Paul’s publisher stirs up the subplot when she calls the local sheriff to ask where her writer lad has been. Sheriff Buster manages to locate the car and discern that someone used a crowbar to pry the door open. Dead end from there until he connects Annie to Paul’s disappearance by reading Misery and finding that the crazed nurse quoted the books for her trial. I say “crazed” because Paul checks her photo/newspaper article album and finds out that she murdered patients and babies back in her old job.
Buster creates one of the better close calls by locating Paul, but doesn’t last long enough to do anything with it. With the inevitability of being discovered by the police growing closer, Annie decides to “be with Paul forever” and shoot him before shooting herself. Some quick thinking saves his life; he says they can’t die together until Misery’s been made immortal. That way, he has time to think of an escape plan while writing “Misery’s Return.” The plan winds up devolving into beating the living crap out of Annie after distracting her by burning his book.
Kathy Bates does a wonderful job of portraying Annie Wilkes though her use of saccharine sadism and childish cuss words. I’m not sure if playing an obsessive homicidal stalker extremely well is something to pride yourself on, but I thoroughly enjoyed her performance regardless.
So should you see this movie? That depends on two things, really. One, if you can stomach Stephen King movies. This one doesn’t contain as much of the Kingly charm, so it should be easier to like than Dreamcatcher. Two, if you don’t mind a little softcore unconventional horror. There isn’t much violence, save for a gaping buckshot wound, some crappy eye-gouging, and several severe head injuries. If you’re game, then by all means.
This lovely review on EricChrist.com better covers the plot and subtle messages that construct this movie. It says Misery is heavy with anti-Christian subtleties, specifically linked to Annie’s psychosis and her religious paraphernalia. I honestly can’t agree with that, because ole Stephie King doesn’t typically touch on many profound topics when he does horror; it’s all viewer extrapolation. Here’s the link, anyway: http://www.ericchrist.com/non-fiction/moviereview.htm