Four years after graduating college in 1970, Stephen King published “Carrie”, and ever since has solidified his name as one of the most prolific horror writers of all time. Excellent stories attract excellent film adaptations and this has certainly been the case for Stephen King’s novels.
From Carrie (1976) to Doctor Sleep (2019), dozens of directors have been inspired by King’s weird and terrifying stories. In this Top List, we have delved into the deep back catalogue of King film adaptations to select the Top 5 Scariest Stephen King Adaptations of All Time.
Because this is a scariest and not a best list, much celebrated King adaptations like The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile will not be included.
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5. 1922 (2017)
Dir. Zak Hilditch
Coming in at number five on this list is a good old fashioned haunting story, based on King’s novella of the same name published in the collection “Full Dark, No Stars” in 2010. This unnerving story, released by Netflix, follows Wilf (Thomas Jane) as he plans to get his son, Henry, involved in the murder of his wife Arlette over her wanting to sell their farm. The murder goes well, but the men start to grow apart as Henry attempts to start a new life with his girlfriend and Wilf spirals into insanity, plagued by the rats that are feeding on his wife’s corpse.
The slow-burning nature of this film builds tension, and despite the fate of Wilf being almost inevitable from the start, his spiral makes it almost impossible to look away.
With King’s signature subtle supernatural flare, this film makes for an incredibly creepy watch.
4. Misery (1990)
Dir. Rob Reiner
As Stephen King adaptations became increasingly popular throughout the 80s, it was clear that when the author published “Misery” in 1987, it wouldn’t take long for it to be made into a film.
This Columbia Pictures adaptation centres on famed writer Paul Sheldon (James Caan); best known for his novels about a character named “Misery Chastain”. After writing the final instalment of his series, he crashes his car on the way back to New York and is taken in by a nurse called Annie (Kathy Bates). He is bedridden, and Annie, who claims to be his number one fan, nurses him back to health. He allows her to read the new book and after she finds out the ending, she begins to show how easily obsession can become insanity.
What sets this film apart from the others on this list and many of Stephen King’s stories is that it doesn’t involve so much as a hint of the supernatural. This is a very real story of something that could viably happen to anyone if they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, making this not only one of the most iconic King adaptations ever made but possibly the most realistically scary film on this list.
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