Of course the hobbling scene is the more celebrated and obvious choice but for me the best scene in this fantastic psychological horror/thriller is the crucial turning point in which Paul Sheldon begins to realise that he has been “rescued” by a complete nutjob.
At first he and ourselves are given the impression that Annie Wilkes is a well meaning woman who has used her awesome physical strength to save a man’s life. She may be a little unusual but her whacky company seems a small price to pay for remaining alive.
It’s Anne’s brilliant transition however from kind, catholic hero where her intentions to aid paul to health seem genuine to her slightly unnerving attention to detail about his condition followed by the chilling line where she explains that she has been following him and watching him write. It is in this moment that everything that first made her character seem warm and welcoming – her big wide eyes, offbeat mannerisms and physical strength suddenly appears deeply threatening and makes our protagonist extremely vulnerable.
Of course this moment is aided by some top notch acting by both Kathy Bates (winning a deserved Oscar in the process) and James Caan. Caan’s gradual unease is brilliantly evoked as he captures the same facial expressions as the gripped audience – he tries to laugh off the sentiment of being watched and admired but we sense that he is starting to feel a little on edge and that maybe he could be in more secure company than that of his number one fan.
Then there is Bates who is simply superb as she justifies stalking another human being as all part of playing the role of being his biggest supporter. It is her conviction and calm and the sense that she is acting perfectly normally which is what makes the horror underneath the surface so strong and suspenseful as we begin to strongly empathise with a man who is completely and utterly trapped.
The horror also has some sound points to make about the nature of celebrity and in thinking about the point where the line between being a fan and something a little more creepily obsessive is drawn. Of course someone like Annie is many metres across that line but her character still resonates strongly in our increasingly fame obsessed world.