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Definitely check out Misery. Image: Kai Holub/Fulcrum
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The perfect thriller for non-horror fans

There are two types of people: those who love horror movies, and those who won’t even scroll over the genre’s page on Netflix for fear of potential nightmares. For the latter person, consuming Halloween content can in and of itself be a nightmare. People who despise horror movies always have to ask themselves: will I be able to sleep peacefully for the next two weeks after watching this movie? Or will I have to watch three episodes of a cartoon after just to settle myself?

I understand this fear of horror. Likewise, I am compelled to tell these people that there are movies which fit the Halloween or horror vibe that won’t completely ruin your week. If you’re someone who despises horror but still wants to have a ‘scary movie’ experience this Halloween, the perfect movie for you is Misery (1990).

Based on the Stephen King book of the same name, Misery tells a the story of a thrilling mystery between a famous author, an unhinged super fan, and a true “this is my final job” sheriff. Soon after Paul Sheldon (James Caan) completes the final instalment of his popular book series, he gets into a car accident in rural Colorado that shatters both his legs. Stranded and alone during a blizzard, the author is conveniently rescued by Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates), a Paul Sheldon super-fan who also happens to be an ex-nurse.

After rescuing him and bringing him home, Annie begins nursing Paul back to health while the Colorado winter rages in the background. The winter’s frequent storms have cut Annie’s phone lines, preventing contact with anyone outside Annie’s increasingly suspect house. 

Paul begins to question the dynamic as Annie’s behaviour randomly shifts between friendly and frightening. All the while, the comical town sheriff (Richard Farnsworth) learns of Paul’s disappearance and begins his search to find him in the dead of winter.

And that’s all I’m going to say about the plot. 

Part of what makes this movie so effective is its simplicity. The entire movie takes place in only a handful of locations, and it doesn’t force you to follow more than three characters. Misery only demands the viewer to pay attention to one central story and one side story — that’s it. And in a film landscape with Marvel multiverses and never-ending TV series’, sometimes a simple story can be like a true breath of fresh air. 

Nevertheless, this simplistic style allows the movie to take on different forms — it begins as a rescue movie, then turns into a mystery before it ultimately becomes a thriller towards the end. This is surely enough to keep any viewer engaged throughout the movie’s short running time. 

As promised, this isn’t a straight-up horror movie — it’s more of a thriller. This is to say that there aren’t any horrifying scenes. Instead, Misery unsettles viewers and maintains tension between the characters. This movie is eerie, not horrifying — perfect for anyone who dislikes traditional horror movies. 

So if you’re searching for something to watch this Halloween that everyone can enjoy, definitely check out Misery.


  • Matthew is a fourth-year student studying philosophy and political science at the University of Ottawa. This is his first year as the Fulcrum’s Opinions Editor, and he looks forward to hearing opinions from all his fellow students.