31 In 31: Misery

Rob Reiner brings one of the best adaptations of Stephen King's work.

Paul Sheldon (James Caan) is a successful novelist who specializes in a series of boks featuring a character named Misery Chastain. After completing his latest novel, which does not include Misery, Paul sets out to Los Angeles during a blizzard. He loses control of his 1965 Mustang and crashes. Local resident Annie Wilkes "happens" to be near, drags Paul from his car and takes him to her house.

Annie is a nurse who bandages Paul up and provides medicine. She reveals herself to be Paul's number one fan; even naming her pet pig Misery. Annie lets Paul know that the phone lines are down and that all roads into town are blocked. Though, thankfully for Paul, Annie states that she will take care of Paul in the meantime.

Slowly, though, Paul realizes that Annie is an obsessed fan who is unhinged. Annie continues to make excuses as to why she hasn't taken him to the doctors and has random moments of outbursts at Paul, especially regarding Misery. After picking up the last book in the Misery saga, Misery's Child, Annie cannot take the idea that Paul killed off the Misery character to focus on book non-Misery-related. Annie decides to keep Paul at her house while Paul writes a new novel to bring Misery Chastain back to life.

As Paul is trapped within Annie' house, his publisher Marcia Sindell (Lauren Bacall) contacts local sheriff Buster (Richard Farnsworth) inquiring about him being missing. Buster begins looking into Paul's disappearance and he sets off on a path that will cross with both Paul Sheldon and Annie Wilkes.

Rob Reiner directs Misery like a play. Most of the main story takes place in Annie's house; mainly in Paul's bedroom. Reiner directs these scenes initially very loose, almost bordering on some light-hearted humor, but then surprises us when Annie's psychotic side comes out. When we follow Buster and his b-story, he interacts mainly with his on-screen partner and wife Virginia (Frances Sternhagen). The interactions between these two characters is jovial and cute as they flirt with each other while trying to solve the Paul Sheldon mystery.

As most Stephen King adaptations are horribly executed, it is always nice to enjoy a film that isn't (as someone close to me would say) complete balls. Anchored by two strong performances, including Kathy Bates and her Academy Award winning role and sure-handed direction, this is a very good horror film.

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