Kathy Bates plays a great villain. Misery is a complete psychological horror movie. Bates is frightening as Annie Wilkes – the woman who brings James Caan (Paul Sheldon) to his knees. Literally. Misery is an adaptation of a Stephen King novel of the same name. Wilkes is a registered nurse who has worked in a few hospitals and now works at one in a remote part of Colorado. Sheldon is a well known romance novelist (he’s on his way to deliver the final book in his series) whose car goes off the road in a snowstorm. Wilkes’, who happens to be a huge fan of his novels finds him and takes him to her house. Both of his legs are broken from the accident and he is completely immobilized and unconscious. He wakes up to find Wilkes looking after him in her home under the guise that getting to the hospital is to hard because of the snowy weather. Initially she’s excited to look after her favourite author. She asks to read his latest manuscript and completely freaks out when she realizes he’s killed off her favourite character. Sheldon realizes she a) has no intention of getting him to a hospital b) is a psycho fan and c) is going to force him to re-write the novel with the ending she desires. He does what she says all the while trying to figure out how to escape.
Her violent mood swings increase with each passing day. Much like What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, the story is elevated by the chemistry between Bates and Caan. They become prisoners in the house together. Kathy Bates gives this role her all and won an Oscar for it. She plays the matronly prude wonderfully, oscillating between sweet and violent. Misery is about being held captive against your will. It’s also about fame and the unhealthy relationships fans can have with celebrities. Kathy Bates is my choice for day 26 of women in horror because of her portrayal of an unhinged stalker – Annie Wilkes really scared me.