How do you top your scariest novel? If you’re Stephen King, penning a sequel to The Shining 35 years later, you don’t even try. Doctor Sleep (September 24; Scribner) essentially abandons the single-setting haunts of the Overlook Hotel, instead sending a middle-aged Daniel Torrance out into the world to use his powers of “the shining” to make the world a better place. As a psychological thriller, Doctor Sleep is as good as it gets, a truly satisfying beach read. But it disappoints as a literary follow-up to King’s most haunting novel. Replacing the ghostly scares with psychic skirmishes and hot clairvoyant action, Doctor Sleep occasionally feels like an 1980’s TV series about a telepath hitching across the country solving mysteries.
Picking up in 1981, the sequel has Danny and a limping Wendy still recovering from the harrowing events at the Overlook Hotel, which was destroyed after the boiler explosion. Those more familiar with Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film than the original novel may be surprised to find Dick Hallorann alive and kicking, still serving as a sage mentor to a pre-adolescent Danny. Revisiting the events and characters from the Overlook serves as a scolding reminder from King that The Shining was a book first and a movie second, and don’t you ever forget it. READ MORE
The Shining is one of my all time favorite horror movies. Actually it’s one of my all time favorite movies, period. No qualifier needed. That being said… I’m not entirely sure how much I need or want a prequel. But we may be getting one regardless.
Per The LA Times, “Warner Bros.is quietly exploring the possibility of a prequel to “The Shining,” the 1980 Stanley Kubrick chillfest that many fans regard as the scariest movie of all time. The studio has solicited the involvement of Hollywood writer-producer Laeta Kalogridis and her partners Bradley Fischer and James Vanderbilt to craft a new take as producers, according to a person familiar with the project who was not authorized to talk about it publicly… The film would focus on what happened before Jack Torrance (of course played memorably onscreen by Jack Nicholson), his wife and their psychic son arrived at the haunted retreat where Torrance soon descends into violent madness. A WB spokeswoman cautioned that any ‘Shining’ prequel was in a very early stage and not even formally in development.”
Now, that sort of leaves open two possibilites. The first would be that the prequel explores what was happening with the Torrance family beforehand. I’m not interested in that at all. I feel like their backstory in Kubrick’s film is handled perfectly. The second possibility – and from the above paragraph, the more likely one – would be that it explores the origins of The Overlook Hotel. The crazy horrible stuff that had been happening there for ages. I’d certainly be more interested in that as a standalone story and, in the right hands, it could be a cool exploration as long as we’re not expecting anything as great as the 1980 film.
The LA Times article makes some interesting points about Kalogridis, but doesn’t really touch on what I think could be the most promising sign. James Vanderbilt. Sure, he wrote the new (and apparently pretty bad) Spider-Man, but he also wrote David Fincher’s Zodiac. If he ends up writing this film, lets hope he tries to bring the same sense of measured, slow-burn menace.
Either way, it’s sort of an interesting idea. But also something we shouldn’t expect too much from. There’s no better way to kill your perception of a movie than to compare it to a masterpiece. Remember Prometheus?