Misery (1990) - Rotten Tomatoes

Misery (1990)



Critic Consensus: Elevated by standout performances from James Caan and Kathy Bates, this taut and frightening film is one of the best Stephen King adaptations to date.

Movie Info

Adapted from a Stephen King novel, Rob Reiner's Misery cast James Caan as a writer at a career crossroads. The film opens with Paul Sheldon (Caan) completing work on his latest novel, a break from his popular series of novels featuring the character Misery Chastain. He gets into a severe car accident and is saved by Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates), a reclusive woman who nurses him back to health. Annie is a huge fan of the Misery novels, and she finishes reading the new one while Paul is convalescing. She becomes enraged when she discovers that Paul has killed off Misery. Annie injures Paul's foot severely so that he is unable to leave her house, and forces him to write a new Misery novel. A local sheriff (Richard Farnsworth) and Paul's agent (Lauren Bacall) both attempt to track down what happened to the missing author. Misery shot the relatively unknown Kathy Bates to stardom, winning her one of the few Best Actress Oscars ever bestowed for portraying an evil character.more
Rating: R (adult situations/language, violence)
Genre: Drama, Horror, Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By: William Goldman
In Theaters:
On DVD: Dec 22, 1998
Columbia Pictures


Kathy Bates
as Annie Wilks
James Caan
as Paul Sheldon
Richard Farnsworth
as Sheriff Buster
Lauren Bacall
as Marcia Sindell
J.T. Walsh
as Park Ranger (uncredi...
Tom Brunelle
as Anchorman
June Christopher
as Anchorwoman
Wendy Bowers
as Waitress
Rob Reiner
as Helicopter Pilot (un...
Greg Snegoff
as Reporter
Julie Payne
as Reporter #1
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Misery

Critic Reviews for Misery

All Critics (61) | Top Critics (10)

Bates turns Wilkes into the nastiest nurse to reach the screen since Louise Fletcher tormented Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

Full Review… | August 12, 2013
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic

Like any good work of popular culture, Rob Reiner's film of Stephen King's best-selling book Misery functions on more than one level.

Full Review… | August 12, 2013
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

Popular moviemaking -- elegantly economical, artlessly artful -- doesn't get much better than this.

Full Review… | October 14, 2008
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

Bates has a field day with her role, creating a quirky, memorable object of hate.

Full Review… | September 25, 2007
Top Critic

A skillfully pared-down (if psychologically thin) horror thriller.

Full Review… | September 25, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Reiner captures just the right level of physical tension, but for the most part wisely emphasises the mental duels. Terrific.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Misery


Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

When it comes to adapting a Stephen King horror story, some films tend to miss the mark, and others deliver a tense, terrifying and ultimately bone chilling unforgettable experience. This is the case with the 1990 King adaptation of Misery. The film follows closely the story of the novel, and it's one of those rare screen adaptations that is well adapted from the novel. James Caan is excellent as Paul Sheldon, the imprisoned author held captive by Annie Wilkes played by Kathy Bates. Both are superb in their respective roles, and Kathy Bates is one of the most disturbing and memorable screen villains in horror history, and her performance is one of the standouts of the film. The film is a fine blend of psychological horror and psycho horror. This picture still delivers after all these years and is hard to match in terms of telling a truly chilling story. If you want one of the better Stephen King adaptation's, then give this film a shot. With a great cast, great directing and an engaging plot that will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish, Misery remains of the defining genre films. This film has some truly intense scenes that are not for the faint of heart, and you simply can't turn away from Kathy Bates's performance that earned her a well deserved Oscar win. Like I stated earlier, King adaptations can sometimes be a little sketchy in terms of interesting material and effective plot, but Misery is a strong movie that is a must see for Stephen King fans looking for a well adapted film.

Alex roy

Super Reviewer

Wow, didn't know Kathy Bates had been acting this long....this and Dolores Claiborne are the best films I've seen her in...she's spectacular as the villain! James Caan is good also. Very suspenseful and full of thrills as you wonder if the famous author is ever going to escape. I'm a huge fan of Stephen King movies, and this shot to near the top of the my best-of list the first time I saw it!

Jason Owens

Super Reviewer

Misery Quotes

Waitress: Excuse me I didn't mean to interrupt but are you Paul Sheldon?
Paul Sheldon: Yes I am.
Waitress: I just want to let you know, I'm your number one fan.
Paul Sheldon: That's very sweet of you.
– Submitted by Christopher S (2 years ago)
Annie Wilkes: I thought you were good, Paul. But you're not good. You're just an old dirty birdy.
– Submitted by Christopher S (2 years ago)
Paul Sheldon: Eat it till ya choke, you sick, twisted fuck!
– Submitted by Adam O (3 years ago)
Annie Wilkes: He didn't get out of the COCKADOODIE CAR!
– Submitted by Tracey M (3 years ago)

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