Why Misery Is Stephen King’s Best Horror Adaptation So Far

Why Misery Is Stephen King’s Best Horror Adaptation So Far
Why Misery Is Stephen King’s Best Horror Adaptation So Far

Stephen King is one of the best fiction writers in our modern generation. Sure, there were some questionable moments in his several of his books – namely, the odd and sexual ending to his “It” series. However, his novels are more hit than miss. In translation, his adaptations are also in the same boat. Films such as The Shining, Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and Carrie stand the test of time and stick out as the best adaptations to date.

Despite the likes of The Shining, It (2019 version) or Carrie being considered some of the top pieces of horror ever made, Misery remains the best out of the bunch. The trope of an obsessed fan is nothing new in films. Strangely, those turn out to be some of the worse horror films ever made. There’s never a strong balance on the subject matter, and the story tends to rely on the craziness of the film’s villain. However, Stephen King’s Misery excels in all these areas.

Misery Masterfully Takes It’s Time To Develop Annie Wilkes

Why Misery Is Stephen King’s Best Horror Adaptation So Far

Misery is about novelist Paul Sheldon (James Caan), who gets into a serious car crash. He’s saved Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates), who just so happens to be his biggest fan. The former nurse comes across as sweet and endearing at first. However, when she discovers that her favorite character is being killed off, his situation takes a turn for the worse. Misery is a tight 1 hour and 47 minutes, and the film doesn’t waste any time diving right into the story.

However, Annie isn’t some crazed lunatic right out of the gate. As previously stated, obsession films make the mistake of focusing on the crazy aspect of the types of characters. It robs these characters of their humanity and comes across as extremely cartoonish and over-the-top. Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction isn’t a memorable character because of her insanity. She’s a strong character because of the development she goes through to get to that point. She was loving, caring, and a kind soul.

Both Alex and Dan were committing a morally deplorable act. That worked ultimately shoot the latter in the foot once he decides to break things off. It’s a relatable situation that allows audiences to understand Alex’s character. Are there crazy people in the world? Oh yes, but when it comes to films or television, there has to be more dimension beyond the crazy aspect. Annie has all the signature traits that make you care about her character. These hints here and there that let us know that Annie isn’t right, but she doesn’t go full psycho out of the gate.

However, Annie Isn’t The Sole Reason It’s Such A Great Movie

Misery Stephen King movie

The story is simple yet complex. Paul is trapped within the cabinet of a psychopath, and he has to find different ways to escape. The story itself gives off an excellent reason why Annie doesn’t kill Paul immediately or vice versa. More importantly, there’s plenty of substance behind each scene that builds to the next. Once Annie smashes Paul’s leg, the tension and claustrophobia builds immensely.

Despite being a famous author, Paul is effectively closed off from the world. He’s essentially trapped in a basement where no one can hear him scream — except Annie. There is no safe haven for him, and his death can come at any moment. Given the fact that the film spends the first act showcasing Annie’s personality as a warm and kind-hearted human being, it’s not impossible to think that she wouldn’t be the type of person to commit such a crime. This is why the close calls of outside interference work so well because of how well her character has been defined.

Rob Reiner manages to translate the important themes and plot points from the novel and convey them brilliantly. It also helps that Kathy Bates and Paul Caan were strong in their roles here. The psychological aspect is what makes this film truly terrifying. This is a situation that could happen to anyone. The scariest part is that even sometimes, the nicest people on the outside are the most evil and vile human beings behind closed doors.

Why It’s The Best Horror Adaptation

Why Misery Is Stephen King’s Best Horror Adaptation So Far

There’s nothing to take away from Carrie, The Shining, or It; they’re all great. However, the reason Stephen King’s Misery stands out the most is due to the straightforward plot. There’s nothing confusing about its story, nor are there any supernatural elements that weigh the story down. Misery is a different beast when compared to those three, but the adaptation from the Stephen King novel feels more in line with the original story, for better or worse.

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