Snow Day Required Viewing: Misery (1990)

If you’re one of the lucky ones on the East Coast bracing for the biggest blizzard in years, you were able to work from home today or, at least, get an early office closing. If you’re not, and your at work during Nemo’s Impending Snow Doom* your job is the worst, your company doesn’t care about you, and your boss probably hates puppies.
On my Snow Day checklist were a very few items: Liquor store—check. Bakery—check.  Cash to tip the poor Chinese food delivery guy who really shouldn’t be out in this weather, but if he’s not going to close, I’m certainly not going to NOT order—check.  I’m sure my list should also include batteries, candles, water and a bunch of other essentials, but I have absolutely no interest in living through any form of apocalypse. If this snowstorm is so serious that I need to use something that requires batteries, I’m probably not long for this world anyhow.
There’s only one other item that is on my checklist: Misery. No, not, you know, misery, but rather Misery, the 1990 Rob Reiner film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel about author Paul Sheldon (poor, poor James Caan) who gets injured in a car accident during a blizzard and is rescued by his psychotic “#1 fan,” Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates).

It’s a black-as-the-night-sky comic thriller masterpiece that plays to a whole different set of inner-fears, when snow is slowly closing in around you. Although not nearly as dark as the book, it is both highly creepy and incredibly entertaining, as Paul realizes that even with a broken body, he would’ve had a much better chance of survival against sub-zero temperatures and five foot snow drifts than Annie’s special brand of madness. 
The film is famous for many reasons: it served as a comeback of sorts for James Caan, cinema’s erstwhile Sonny Corleone and launched Kathy Bates, who won an Academy Award for her portrayal as the scariest care practitioner this side of Nurse Ratchet. However, that’s not what people remember from the film. I say Misery and you think “sledgehammer,” that immortalized scene when Annie, desperate to keep Paul an invalid, hobbled him;  a moment that is forever burned into moviegoers’ minds. Sledgehammers had previously been used in much more violent ways, but maybe never as sinisterly, as when Annie says: “Shh, darling. Trust me. It’s for the best.”

So take my advice, open a bottle of wine (or Dom Pérignon, if you really want to get into the spirit) enjoy the snow falling around you, and spend two hours watching a guy get tortured, drugged, kidnapped, beaten and weirdly (kinda) loved by a lunatic. If this snowstorm is the start of a couple of days trapped in your house, it’ll make you think: “Wow. Things could be worse.”

*Nemo’s Impending Doom Coming to Theaters Summer 2014

– Eddie Mouradian

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