Retro Review: Misery (1990)

Two nights ago, my girlfriend and I ordered pizza, and as usual, before I touch my food I have to find something to watch. Which is always a struggle with my girlfriend, so one eternity later we eventually come to the conclusion that she has never seen Misery. So I definitely had to fix that and proceed to dig out my VHS copy.

Misery is an adaptation of the best selling novel by Stephen King. It’s about a long time author named Paul Sheldon played by James Cann, finishing up the latest installment of his Misery series. Paul has a routine when it comes to writing his books, he always rents a room at the Silver Creek Lodge in a remote town in Colorado. Well, when he’s on his way back to New York a blizzard hits causing Paul to wreck his car in a snow-filled ditch. A mysterious pedestrian saves Paul from the wreckage and probably his life.

When Paul wakes he is bedridden with broken legs, and we meet the mysterious strange, a very nice and well-mannered lady named Annie Wilkes played by the amazing Kathy Bates. Annie tells Paul the roads to town are snowed in and the phone lines are down, so she will take care of him till they clear. She also tells Paul she is his biggest fan, and as gratitude Paul lets Annie read is manifest of his latest novel in the series. Annie soon finds out that this is the last Misery novel due to Paul killing off the main character Misery. Annie is not a fan what so ever and we see her character change almost like a mood swing from a very nice sweet lady to a psychopath. Annie eventually informs Paul he isn’t going anywhere and forces him to write a new novel bringing Misery back. So with Paul know knowing he is being held against his will, he tries to plan his escape to the best of his current ability.

I have always enjoyed this movie, Kathy Bates performance is amazing and I feel like it’s one of the only time we truly get to see her range as an actress. The two main characters Paul and Annie have a nice chemistry in the movie, that’s even humorous at some points. As an example, one of my favorite scenes is where Paul is by the window locked in his room when Annie comes home, she waves at him yelling “Hi pumpkin’. Paul just gives her the bird, he’s done with the situation and she just replies with “what a kidder” smiling and carries on. You never know what’s going to happen when Annie opens his door, or what kind of mood she’ll be in next.

My favorite thing about this film is that it’s grounded in reality which is something Stephen King rarely does. He maybe has a hand full of books that aren’t fantasy driven, like The Body for instance aka Stand By Me. It’s always fun when movies are grounded in reality, mostly because you can put yourself in the scenario. I like to think about how I would deal with the situation or escape with my life. I can’t really do that with let’s say a scenario like Jason Voorhees. He’s been shot, stabbed, melted, killed and brought back to life, all I can do is run like hell and hope for the best.

This movie has mystery, suspense, some cheeky humor, and nice pacing. All around it’s a solid movie that I enjoy revisiting again and again and I recommend you give it a watch or a re-visit if it’s been awhile. has a rating of 7.8
Personally, I’d give it an 8.5

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About Keith Saunders 18 Articles
I was born and raised in West Virginia (insert WV movie cliches here). Growing up life was boring back in the sticks. I had no friends nearby, and nothing to do. However, the living room was like a cinema library. All the DVDs, and VHS towering to the ceiling. So while my school friends were hanging out or playing games online together, I was at home studying, memorizing, and falling in love with movies. Around the age of five or six the earliest horror movie I remember watching was Evil Dead II: Death By Dawn, it was roughly recorded off TV on to VHS along with The Labyrinth and a few others that weren't rememberable. I just recall being blown away at what I was seeing, especially when Linda's head is tightened in the vice, and Ash slowly carves into her skull with his chainsaw. There my addiction began, so I started gathering up every horror movie I could find in the house. Finding titles like The Thing, The Stuff, Halloween and if we didn't have it, off to Blockbusters I went (Good lord I miss Blockbusters). After that I was hooked, horror became my first love of cinema and every other genre got back seat. My Top 5 Favorites of Horror Evil Dead II: Death By Dawn (1987) Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988) Alien (1979) Creepshow (1982) Dead Alive (1992)