The premise of this film is fairly simple but the execution is amazing. To me it came across as a timeless work. It does help to have a Stephen King novel as a basis though.
The story follows Paul Sheldon, a writer, who gets caught in a snow storm. He is saved by a local woman, Annie, who turns out to be an avid fan and also conveniently a nurse. She addresses his injuries and tells him that he won't be able to leave until the storm subsides. As the weather clears Paul realises that Annie is obsessed with him and won't let him leave. As the film unfolds, the situation gets more and more dire with some very unpleasant outcomes.
What I loved about this film was how simple the story was but how complex the situation became. The tension accumulated to a point of sheer dread. The acting was great both by James Caan and especially Kathy Bates. I have never seen her so scary.
The character, Annie, became more and more frightening as Paul's disposition became more and more hopeless. Annie was such an interesting character too. She wasn't purely bad and had really relatable human qualities. Her actions however were just malicious as her temper flew off the rails. The camera work helped to create her unnerving demeanour.
Low angled shots were often used frequently with close ups to make her appear like she was always looking down on the viewer. Sound design was used extensively to create a trapped, claustrophobic feel. Many scenes showed Paul locked in the room only able to hear Annie moving around outside or watching TV or driving in her car. Sound as a narrative created a sense of uncertainty for Paul, whether Annie was going to burst in with soup or an axe.
The music was good, heightening suspenseful scenes and establishing a general unease. To me the music was very reminiscent of older films with music like Bernard Herrmann. It wasn't as thematic as most Hollywood films but more tonal and reflective of emotion, rather than tune.
The movie for me was an enjoyable experience. I loved the overall sinister feel and character development, the acting especially really drove the film.
I'd give it an 8 out of 10.
Directed by Rob Reiner.
Written by Stephen King (novel), William Goldman (screenplay).
Starring James Caan, Kathy Bates, Richard Farnsworth, Frances Sternhagen, Lauren Bacall etc.