In this new series of articles, our writers are watching classic films for the first time. Here, Alysha catches up on Misery.

Kathy Bates gives her all in this 1990 psychological horror, Misery, from director Rob Reiner and based on the novel by Stephen King. Successful novelist Paul Sheldon (James Caan), just after finishing the manuscript of the last installment in his Misery series, gets into a severe car crash during a snowstorm. He is pried from his car by former nurse Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates), who takes him back to her secluded home. When Paul awakes, he finds out that Annie is his self-proclaimed number one fan. Things take a turn for the worse when Annie finds out that Paul is killing off the character, Misery, in his final book. 

There is something so utterly claustrophobic about Misery. Since the story essentially takes place in only one location, the film requires so much of Caan and Bates to hold the attention of the audience and create a compelling story. Caan delivers an impressive performance as someone who, for a good portion of the film, is unable to leave the room Annie has him locked within. Although he is badly injured, Caan still has a very strong physical presence as Paul.

Bates is truly incredible as Annie, completely disappearing into the madness of this character. It is impossible to imagine anyone but Bates playing this iconic role. She is able to seem so genuinely kind one second, but is completely terrifying when she is dissatisfied. Not only that, but at times she is actually funny, which seems to add to the horrific nature of the film.

Misery is the only one of King’s adaptations to win an Oscar, and for good reason: this film is by far one of the best adaptations, which can definitely be attributed to both Caan and Bates’ fantastic performances.


Available to watch on: Netflix


CAST: James Caan, Kathy Bates, Richard Farnsworth, Frances Sternhagen, Lauren Bacall, Graham Jarvis

DIRECTOR: Rob Reiner

WRITERS: William Goldman, Stephen King

SYNOPSIS: A psychotic super fan holds famous author, Paul Sheldon, hostage in her home and forces him to finish his series.