Who will ever forget the first time they witnessed THE SHINING. This masterwork from the legendary Stanley Kubrick is a terrifying journey that features an iconic performance from Jack Nicholson, and some of the creepiest imagery you will ever see - blood gushing out of that elevator still creeps me out. This 1980 classic is on many a cinephile’s list of favorites, but not everybody was thrilled. Based on the Stephen King novel by the same name, the film version takes a few liberties with the original work. So much so King himself has been very vocal about his displeasure of the big screen version of a haunted hotel. That is why in we were graced with the 1997 TV-movie that is closer to the original work.
Recently we learned that the sequel to King’s novel, DOCTOR SLEEP, is heading to the big screen as well. The 2013 novel - a continuation of the 1977 work - finds a grown up Danny Torrance still traumatized by his deceased father Jack and the Overlook Hotel. Even before this recent release, I had always thought that THE SHINING was deserving of a sequel. It was a complex story about alcoholism, ghosts, and the horrible rage all brought upon Danny and his mother Wendy. Seeing Danny as an adult having to face his demons, and coming to accept his supernatural abilities seemed like a fantastic idea. Truth be told I’ve yet to read DOCTOR SLEEP, but I certainly plan to before we see it come alive at the local cinema.
Having not read the book but being very aware of the plot, I want this film to be amazing. The character of Danny, and the nightmare he went through, is most assuredly full of potential. And the acclaimed novel clearly pleased a number of fans, so the idea of bringing it to life excites the hell out of me. THE SHINING for me was such a magnificent work. It stands perfectly fine on its own, but get the right cast, script and director? You could have something truly fantastic that horror fans will delight in seeing. So what is the problem? Well, there are a few things that might be a bit of a hindrance to the upcoming sequel, notably the significant differences between Kubrick and King’s THE SHINING.
First off, considering that King was so disappointed with Kubrick’s version and he is the executive producer on this, it’s a safe bet what happened in the feature film will be ignored. So will we be seeing a sequel to the TV-movie essentially? I was mildly entertained by the Steven Weber and Rebecca De Mornay mini-series, but it didn’t stick with me on any level. Yes it is closer to the novel, but it didn’t have that visual flair and haunting atmosphere. And the ending - to me anyway - fell flat. Some of the many things I loved about the film were gone, because they didn’t exist in the book. And considering fans will be looking at the film version of DOCTOR SLEEP, they may very well feel cheated if they go down a completely different path. Hell, one of the characters that died in the film is only injured in King’s take, and he is a part of the new story.
A script for the current film is in the works, and the screenwriter they’ve hired is Akiva Goldsman. Akiva certainly has a variety of credits to his name, so perhaps he can pull it off. Of course, the writer has some big shoes to fill. Here is hoping that they can create a big screen DOCTOR SLEEP that will please both King and Kubrick fans. The way I see it, the best road to take would be to somehow use each influence to create something special. After all, Danny - now Dan - Torrance has serious issues including alcohol addiction and an anger management problem As a fan myself, I’d like to see references to both versions. After all, the dude is clearly still dealing with his past. Perhaps his memory of what REALLY happened at The Overlook when he was a child is completely distorted. Thus, the filmmakers have the opportunity to pay tribute to both, yet still create something that stands on its own.
Maybe it’s the booze talkin’, but they’d better not f*ck up The Shining sequel! Fans of King’s original version, as well as Kubrick are certainly hoping for a great film. However, totally ignoring Kubrick’s take is likely to put off a number of movie lovers who grew up watching Jack Nicholson and the oddness he brought to the character. If you are going to do DOCTOR SLEEP right, respect should be given to both, and given Dan Torrance’s current condition in the beginning of the story, I think they could easily play around with distorted memories. Yet more importantly, they need to move forward with this story and make it its own unique thing. Either way, all we really want is something that respects THE SHINING from both sides. As well, make this flick scary! Is that too much to ask?