Critics 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.



Total Count: 67


Audience Score

User Ratings: 177,703
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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.


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Critic Reviews for Misery

All Critics (67) | Top Critics (12) | Fresh (60) | Rotten (7)

  • The film hasn't any depth to speak of, but is consistently shrewd enough not to go totally obvious ways. And the audacity in casting Kathy Bates as the dotty fan pays considerable dividends.

    May 9, 2017 | Full Review…

    Derek Malcolm

    Top Critic
  • 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.

    Aug 12, 2013 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Aug 12, 2013 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • Popular moviemaking -- elegantly economical, artlessly artful -- doesn't get much better than this.

    Oct 14, 2008 | Full Review…
  • Bates has a field day with her role, creating a quirky, memorable object of hate.

    Sep 25, 2007 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

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

    Sep 25, 2007 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Misery

  • Dec 31, 2017
    From director Rob Reiner comes the intense suspense thriller Misery. Based on a Stephen King novel, the story follows famed novelist Paul Sheldon who's rescued from a car crash by an obsessed fan; but things take a dark turn when he discovers that he's being drugged and is locked in his room. James Caan and Kathy Bates both give strong performances; particularly Bates, who does a good job at subtly moving from eccentric fan and psychopath. And Reiner effectively builds tension and suspense quite well; especially in showing Sheldon's captivity and isolation. Still, there are some problems with the script, such as the underdeveloped subplot of the sheriff's investigation and the rushed conclusion. Yet despite its flaws, Misery is a frightening horror film.
    Dann M Super Reviewer
  • Jun 03, 2016
    One of the better Stephen King horror adaptations. Kathy Bates as Annie Wilkes is one of the best (and arguably *the* best) on screen female villain in a horror movie, of all time. Perhaps not one you need to sit down and re-watch every few months or whathaveyou, but totally gripping, even after multiple (spaced out) viewings.
    Gimly M Super Reviewer
  • Dec 24, 2013
    Kathy Bates is absolutely awesome in this one. It is likely one of the best, if not the best, Stephen King adaptations.Reiner proves that he can pull off a good horror flick and James Caan simply elicits pity as the man who is at the mercy of his fan.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Sep 27, 2013
    Directors C Super Reviewer

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