2017 has been a really good year for Stephen King (give or take The Dark Tower). Between Gerald’s Game, It, and a few more TV shows, he has a huge resurgence in terms of adaptations, with much more on the way. Scream Factory also put out a collector’s edition of what most people refer to as one of his best adaptations, Misery.
Most people, but not this person.
Misery is based on the novel of the same name in which we find a writer (in typical King protagonist fashion) named Paul Sheldon who has spent the past few years writing novels he never wanted to associate his name with, he wrote about a character named Misery, and that was his livelihood. But he doesn’t want it to be.
As his latest (and hopefully last Misery novel he will write) is about to hit the shelves at every bookstore around the country, he is hard at work on his new novel, which is a departure from the series he began to dislike working on. On his way out of a small town that he has written every novel he’s worked on before, a snowstorm strikes and he crashes his car. Thankfully, someone comes to his rescue, and it’s none other than Annie Wilkes, his number one fan.
Here is the film everyone is familiar with, where slowly Annie becomes the perfect representation of modern-day fandom, which comes with this idea of artists owing us (their fans) certain content, or content in general. As she finds out that he has killed off her favourite character in her favourite series, she becomes aggravated and takes it out on Paul, who is someone she loves, based solely on the content he has put out, which he doesn’t even approve of.
The film dives into this pretty fast, and the rest of the film runs a bit too slow for me, and even though Kathy Bates won an Oscar for Best Leading Actress for the film, to me I couldn’t get into her performance. It felt too over the top for my enjoyment, to subtle. It’s these extremes high and low’s that continued to detach me from the film more and more.
There’s the scene that everyone is aware of by this point, and it’s the “hobbling” scene, and yes, I admit, it works very, very well. I have trouble distinguishing whether the film built to that moment knowing how big of a moment it could be, or it’s just a happy accident. Either option benefits the film in reality.
I very much enjoyed Rob Reiner’s take on his other adaptation of King’s work, Stand by Me, it’s one of my favourite takes on a coming of age film and one that inspires my own work in the past, but this film didn’t do as much as I had hoped or expected.
That being said, the film is gorgeous in its new restoration, I’m not sure how “rough” the previous release might look, but this one is quite stunning. The Blu-ray also has new great interviews with the director Rob Reiner, and also the man behind some of the grossest special effects ever, Greg Nicotero.
If you’re a fan of the film, I recommend buying the film, the restoration is worth the price alone, not to mention all the featurettes and interviews attached to the disc. I’m glad I was able to write the film off my list of films I need to see before I get attacked for not loving this film.