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YMMV / Misery

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  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • In the film, when Annie spills her drink after Paul poisons it, did she do that on purpose because she suspected he would try such a thing while she was gone, or was it really an accident?
    • Paul's agent suggesting he write a memoir about his captivity. The agent gives the reasoning that it would be a bestseller immediately, but when you remember their friend went missing for months and is visibly traumatized, perhaps they're asking Paul to find a healthy outlet for his trauma, especially since as a famous person and victim of intense crime it's not like he's not going to be hounded for the rest of his life about it.. Note that the agent doesn't push Paul when he refuses, sensing he needs space.
  • Award Snub: Kathy Bates deservedly won the Academy Award and Golden Globe for her terrifying performance, but director Rob Reiner, writer William Goldman, and co-lead James Caan weren't nominated for their excellent work on the film.
  • Cry for the Devil: In addition to the movie-only Tear Jerker moment described below, there are a couple of scenes late in the novel where one almost forgets, if only for a moment, what a terrifying and terrible person Annie is. In one, Paul himself laments What Could Have Been for Annie if she were not so deeply mentally ill after she shows him an unexpected moment of kindness. In another, Annie has something of a Villainous Breakdown after the press gets wind of her latest doings and pays her a visit, and for readers who share her anxiety for crowds it's a disturbing moment of empathy with an otherwise wholly unsympathetic character.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Richard Farnsworth as Buster, particularly the adorable Snark-to-Snark Combat chemistry with Francis Sternhagen as his wife Virginia, is seen one of the films best highlights next to Bates' performance. So much so, viewers are saddened or even enraged when Annie kills him.
  • Evil Is Cool: There is an absolutely good reason why Kathy Bates won an Oscar for her performance as the Big Bad Annie.
  • Fridge Brilliance: Paul eventually grows to consider Misery's Return the best book he's ever written. But of course it is! It's the only book he's ever literally written like his life depended on it.
  • Fridge Horror:
    • It's lucky that Annie hadn't read Misery's Child before finding Paul, or she may have left him to die or been abusive to him right from the start.
    • When reading through Annie's "Memory Lane" book, Paul finds out that she was married and then divorced by her husband, Ralph Dugan, with Annie's writing on the divorce page showing that she was pissed about it. There's no clipping about the ex-husband meeting a nasty death afterwards, so it seems like the poor guy got away okay. Except that much earlier on, Annie refers to herself as a "poor widow" and her MO has been shown to evolve to hiding bodies after she kills them, making it possible that she did kill him but his remains were never discovered and Paul simply didn't connect the dots.note 
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Paul is in the middle of an ongoing series when he gets in a serious car accident before finishing it. King nearly died in 1999 after being hit by a van while writing the Dark Tower series. Like Paul, he was confined to bed with injuries to his legs; they were so bad, doctors considered amputating one. He spent three weeks in the hospital, required five surgeries, and months of therapy before he could manage to walk.
    • In 1991, Beverley Allitt, an English nurse, committed four murders in a children's ward. The fact that she looks a bit like Annie makes it even scarier.
    • In 2021, in Chester, England. A nurse named Lucy Letby went on trial for murdering seven babies - and accused of attempted murder of ten more. If guilty, the Dragon Lady has a new rival.
    • Annie breaking Paul's legs gets even more horrifying given then—13-year-old Thad Phillip's 1995 ordeal at the hands of Joe Clark—kidnapped and held prisoner for 43 hours while Clark broke the bones in his legs. Phillips finally escaped by throwing himself down the stairs and dragging himself to a phone, by which point he was within two hours of death from internal bleeding. He survived, but needed numerous surgeries and walks with a limp to this day. note 
    • In the film, Richard Farnsworth's character is shot in the back by Annie. In 2000, Farnsworth committed suicide by gunshot due to suffering from terminal cancer.
    • When the book came out, King had to establish to his fans that Annie is a fictional character and a Loony Fan that is the exception rather than the norm, when hearing that they took offense. Shortly after, one Loony Fan tried breaking into King's house when his wife Tabby was home alone, threatening her with a bomb. She ran out and got help from the police. (This is why King's house in Bangor has a spiked gate and he no longer offers trick-or-treating to the local kids).
    • Just the rise in visibility of real life Loony Fans in general who do things such as sending death threats to writers if they stray off the narrative that they have chosen with a work. Viewpoints not dissimilar from Annie's on the world at large are even given as backing for their behavior, with offenses against fictional characters being treated as something real people must be hurt for.
    • Paul develops a drug addiction to the painkillers that Annie feeds him, and has a hard time going cold turkey on his doctor's orders. King in On Writing revealed that he was battling alcoholism and drug addiction at the time of writing the book, and came to realize that Annie was an analogy for cocaine and beer.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Paul's Misery series is focused on a pretty but flighty young woman who is the focus of two guys who do all the cool stuff. The series is obscenely popular. Fans, but especially middle-aged women, adore it. Critics everywhere skewer it. Almost twenty years later... Even more hilarious what with Stephen's reaction to said novels...
    • Two decades after Kathy Bates played Annie, she appeared in Midnight in Paris as Gertrude Stein, and the protagonist desperately wanting her to read his writing and hear her opinion is a plot point.
    • Nine years after the film's release, Kathy Bates starred in Disney's film adaptation of the famous Broadway musical... Annie.
    • Paul continually tries to expand his writing work, only to constantly get tons of complaints from fans who only want the next Misery book and can't stand the Schedule Slip caused by his taking time away from it. He'd probably get along well with a certain real writer.
  • Love to Hate: Kathy Bates gives a chilling performance as Annie, being able to act sweet and nice one moment and horrifying the next. Sometimes even appearing somewhat sympathetic as a mentally ill woman. Kathy Bates became very well recognized for the role.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Annie was already a Serial Killer, but onscreen her murder of the sheriff.
  • Narm Charm: Annie's choice of words such as "cock-a-doodie" and "dirty bird". No way can she be taken seriously like that. Which of course is the point: you are meant to think that her bark is worse than her bite until she proves to you that you are very much mistaken.
  • Nausea Fuel:
    • At one point Annie crushes a rat to death with her bare hand, poking her fingers into its body in the process. And then she licks her fingers. Paul wasn't the only one that felt ill.
    • Annie forces Paul to wash down his Novril with dirty rinse-water as punishment after he makes her mad.
    • Annie leaves Paul alone and locked in his room for over two days. Paul resorts to drinking his own urine because he's so thirsty.
    • Two words: "Special candle."explanation 
    • Five words: "And now I must cauterize."explanation 
  • No Yay: Annie Wilkes and Paul Sheldon, especially in the book. She's an ex-nurse LoonyFan of the disillusioned writer who saved him from a car crash and slowly nurses him back to health. It's eventually revealed that Annie has killed several of her patients, and her mood constantly swings between cheerful and psychotic. It culminates with Annie amputating Paul's leg.
    Annie Wilkes: I'm your number one fan...
  • Signature Scene: Annie breaking both of Paul's ankles with a sledgehammer. Notorious for marking the peak of the film's violence, it had a profound impact not only on general audiences, but on the crew itself. In the DVD commentary, director Rob Reiner commented on the scene's notoriety, reporting that Kathy Bates herself broke down crying after the shooting was done.
  • Special Effect Failure: The incredibly obvious dummy of Annie when her head hits the typewriter during the climactic fight.
  • Tear Jerker:
    • The movie has a scene in which a depressed Annie opens up to Paul about her fear of him abandoning her. It's an unexpectedly humanizing moment for Annie, and both Kathy Bates and James Caan act it perfectly. Unfortunately, it quickly turns to Nightmare Fuel when Annie decides to show him her pistol.
    • In the epilogue, Paul is still traumatized. During the book's ending, he walks with a limp and a prosthetic and has random hallucinations of Annie killing him. He worries that he's lost his writing forever because without Annie, there's no one making him write to save his life. Then he sees a boy with a skunk, and starts writing about it, crying Tears of Joy that he hasn't lost the gift and doesn't need to be held in captivity. The movie ending features him so shaken by his experiences, a nice woman honestly calling herself a fan fills him with enormous dread.
  • Unintentional Period Piece:
    • While it's certainly possible that Annie has no computer or cell phone, this would make the cops more likely to investigate her farm first once they realize Paul Sheldon went missing nearby. After all, it's the only place where the owner likely wouldn't be able to call or message anyone. Also it's virtually impossible in today's world for a writer to have only one copy of any manuscript, even if he doesn't particularly like keeping copies. In fact, the entire idea of a writer mostly using a typewriter is hilariously outdated, and yet apparently it's Paul's preferred method, even though word processors and personal computers already existed when the story was written. While Annie did get her Royal from an antique store, almost any antique typewriter today would be unusable, and it would probably be cheaper for her to simply get him a laptop (even in the book, three keys are broken by the time the job is finished). Finally, today's romance novels are widely known as smutty potboilers written by guns-for-hire and read only by lonely middle-aged women, and unless you're Stephenie Meyer or Nicholas Sparks it's pretty hard to become famous as a writer with them. Also they don't usually shy away from profanity anymore, meaning that they'd be less likely to be a favorite of a woman who prefers terms like "cockadoodie" and "dirty bird" and is offended by actual profanity.
    • In the book, Paul theorizes that the reason Annie got away with her earlier murders is because she did them in different towns, and police departments weren't able to properly investigate her past doings. Today, police departments have online databases that store all available information on a person's criminal activity, where and when it was done. Annie would likely have been placed in a prison or mental ward by her late teens had she been born a few decades later.
  • Values Resonance: With the rise of online culture allowing far more direct contact between creators and fans, which inevitably leads to a good number of them feeling entitled to pressure the creators into bending the work toward just what they want, Annie has taken on a new life as the ultimate avatar for the dangers of toxic fandom.
  • The Woobie: Paul. The whole story is basically about him stuck in Hell!