“Where’s Johnny?”: ‘The Shining’ without Stanley Kubrick
Warner Brothers will release long-awaited sequel to Stanley Kubrick‘s horror classic The Shining this November, with Ewan McGregor starring as a grown-up Danny Torrance. Stephen King has opined that “If you have seen the movie but not read the novel, you should note that Doctor Sleep follows the latter, which is, in my opinion, the True History of the Torrance Family.”
As you might be able to gather from the subtle shade of that quote, King was never really a big fan of Kubrick’s film version of his book. As well as once calling King’s depiction of Shelley Duvall’s Wendy, “one of the most misogynistic characters ever put on film,” King has also suggested Kubrick’s film is “beautiful” but lacking in substance, “It’s like a big, beautiful Cadillac with no engine inside it … I kept my mouth shut at the time, but I didn’t care for it much.”
King also believes Jack “has no arc” in the film which he describes as being “a tragedy” – “In the book, he’s a guy who’s struggling with his sanity and finally loses it … In the movie, there’s no tragedy because there’s no real change.” So yeah, he hates it.
The Shining, despite now being seen by many as the greatest horror film ever made, was a bit of a box office misfire at the time. But over the years, it’s not only become viewed as one of Kubrick’s best films but also found a certain online cult following for the theory that the film is Kubrick’s response to having faked the Apollo 11 moon landing footage.
It’s unlikely that Doctor Sleep will be able to hit the same dizzy heights or infamy as Kubrick’s masterpiece, but with noted Stephen King fan Mike Flanagan helming it, the author will at least approve of adaptation this time around.
Well versed in the horror genre – in 2016 alone he had three films to his name released: Hush, Before I Wake and Ouija: Origins of Evil – Flanagan is certainly prolific and respected but he doesn’t quite share the same prestige of Kubrick. That’s not something to feel bad about as so very few filmmakers do. Where Flanagan does succeed is in being a self-described “rabid fanboy” of King having also developed the quite brilliant and nightmarish Gerald’s Game for Netflix last year.
Speaking to Consequence of Sound, Flanagan explained the importance of capturing King’s idiosyncratic voice in an adaptation, “It’s his voice in your head, and he’s a distinct voice. If you try to force him, his structure, and his characters into a mold that they weren’t intended for, it’s not a good fit.
Even that sense of just an awkward fit is just enough to knock people out of adaptations, and, in my opinion, it spirals so out of control that you lose sight of what even made the story good in the first place.” Clearly, Doctor Sleep is in safe hands with this guy.
King has described his Shining sequel as “a return to balls-to-the-wall, keep-the-lights-on horror” that he had done for so many years before. Danny (who is now going by Dan) is grown up and has acquired his father’s legacy for anger and alcoholism but after moving to a small town, taking a job at a hospice and attending AA meetings, Torrance’s psychic powers begin to reemerge.
He’s also aided by a cat that knows when people are about to die, which is the sort of spooky shit all cats seem to pull. But, like his father before him, the spirits of The Overlook Hotel might never let Dan (Danny) Torrance free. Flanagan can likely do a terrific creepy job of that story and we can’t wait to see it.
However, we’re of the opinion that McGregor may be a good choice to play the grown up Danny Torrance but he may also be a bit of a safe choice, too. McGregor, whose only horror film in the past was the mostly forgotten Nightwatch, is a likeable enough actor but he also can’t do an American accent for shit. As a result we can probably all look forward to a version of Danny Torrance who rolls a lot of hard R’s and sounds vaguely mid western but also a little bit southern. If that’s the case The Overlook Hotel can keep him.
Production still hasn’t started on the film so unfortunately it won’t be in cinemas until 2020 at the earliest. But with the rest of what’s sure to be an all star cast yet to be named, along with surely some terrifying teaser trailers along the way, it’s definitely going to be something big to look out for in the future.