"Misery" Blu-ray Review
September 24, 2009 by Zach Demeter
Rarely does a horror film come along that does well with critics and manages to garner nominations. But leave it to novelist Stephen King and director Rob Reiner to bring together such a film with Misery, for which Kathy Bates won an Oscar. The film has long been a favorite among movie fans and critics alike for its engaging portrayals, unique plot and setting and also just for the sense of dread and fear that it manages to maintain from start to finish. Now with the Blu-ray edition on shelves, Misery fans can prepare to view the film in full high-definition.
Novelist Paul Sheldon (Caan) doesn't remember the blinding blizzard that sent his car spinning off the road. Nor does he remember being nursed back from unconsciousness. All he remembers is waking up in the home of Annie Wilkes (Bates) a maniacal fan who is bent on keeping her favorite writer as her personal prisoner for the rest of his "cock-a-doodie" life!
Occasionally you’ll get such a good horror/thriller that you just won’t know how to react after watching it. Such is the case with Misery, which has a disturbing plot and a scenario that I’m sure most writers/producers/directors have nightmares about. While it’s true that keeping someone captive and making them do your every psychotic bidding isn’t terrible original in of itself, just the way it was executed really made the film feel wholly original. You never got quite the same mixture of isolation, fear, and dread all in one place before and the performances by James Caan and Kathy Bates was nothing short of magnificent.
While the film breezes by at a brisk 107 minutes, the tension it creates is palpable. It’s also shocking how invested you get with the film, wanting Caan to break free at any spare moment he can. You wince with pain as his ankles meet a sledgehammer wielding Bates and just the level of fear that is placed upon this small little locked up house is devastating. It was a genuinely intense and original experience to watch this film and despite it nearly celebrating its 20th anniversary, it’s still every bit as nail biting as it was back in 1990.
Yet as fantastic as this film was, I’m at a loss of things to say about it. It was brilliantly written, directed, and acted and I have to say I’ve never been quite so amazed by a plot that hinged on a novelist and a psycho fan before. Of course there aren’t many of those out there, but whenever such a similar plot may come into play it’s often a brooding, backwoods killer swinging a machete that takes captives…it’s never the kind looking women who rescue you from a snow-drift car accident and bring you back to health (only to come at you with weapons later on).
Overall Misery is a great ride and if you haven’t checked the film out yet, then it’s Recommended you do so.
The film arrives in a standard Elite Blu-ray case with two discs (second disc is…actually a DVD copy of the film. Strange…) and the usual advertisement inserts. Menus are nicely done and easy to navigate, while the AVC encoded 1080p 1.85:1 transfer is a fairly nice outing. The overall film is very bleak in nature and as such there aren’t a lot of peppy colors or exciting visuals to partake in. It’s all drab and filled with snowy whites. Not that I’m saying it’s a bad transfer, it’s just hard to evoke much detail and color out of the screen when the setting itself is so bleak. The opening title sequence, of course, is bright and colorful and the night sequences have a nice blue hue to them, but overall I didn’t find there to be much color here…but it doesn’t really matter as there’s still plenty of detail to see on almost every frame of the film.
The audio, a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, is equally as laid back. There simply isn’t a lot of surround work to be found here because it’s such a dialogue focused film. There are a few moments where the surrounds perk up, but they’re rare…and not that it matters anyway.
Obviously the first disc in the set is the Blu-ray and if you’re looking for extras on that disc…well, don’t. The second disc in the set, the DVD (which appears to be a copy of the 20th Collector’s Edition release from 2007), is where all of the extras are. Included:
•Feature Commentary by Director Rob Reiner
•Feature Commentary by screenwriter William Goldman
•Misery Loves Company
•Marc Shaiman's Musical Misery Tour
•Diagnosing Annie Wilkes
•Advice for the Stalked
•Profile of a Stalker
As you can see these are all ported over from the original DVD edition so I won’t waste time commenting on them. I will just say, however, that it is a truly excellent and strong set of extras, with the multiple commentaries providing plenty of information about the film. Why they couldn’t at least put those on the Blu-ray portion I don’t know…but…oh well. At least they didn’t just leave all the extras off.
Overall a solid disc and one that’s Recommended…unless you own the CE already, in which case all you’re getting here is the same disc again (literally) plus the Blu-ray. Not a bad deal, but nothing new other than the A/V transfer.
Misery is now available on Blu-ray.