Seen strictly as a quasi-horror thriller, Misery should keep you on the edge of the couch without grossing you out. And as a nifty piece of stylized filmmaking, which literalizes the stereotype of the tortured artist, it won’t insult your intelligence or good taste, either. In this film version of the Stephen King novel, James Caan is Paul Sheldon, a commercially successful writer of formula romance novels who goes to the Colorado Rockies to write a real book for a change. After a car crash, he is nursed to health/taken prisoner by his ”No. 1 fan,” world-class psychopath Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates, who picked up an Oscar for her splendid performance). His battle to survive the violent schizophrenic mood swings of his tormentor provide the film with an eerie and intellectually engaging terror. You keep wondering, ”What would I do if I were Paul?” Sharply focused and intimate, Misery works even better on the small screen. A-

  • Movie
  • 107 minutes