It's the Booze Talkin: Is it too late for a movie sequel to The Shining?

In 1980, the legendary Stanley Kubrick brought Stephen King’s 1977 best selling novel to the big screen. The haunted horrors that the Torrance family would face while hidden away at the isolated Overlook Hotel has inspired and terrified audiences since its initial release. Opening with mixed reviews, Kubrick’s descent into madness didn’t quite bring in audiences during its initial release. However, due to positive word of mouth that saw the film find an audience with time, filmgoers and critics began to open their hearts to this tale of insanity and murder, ultimately making it a success. And to this day, Kubrick’s take on King’s novel is considered by many to be one of the greatest horror films ever made. And yet, we are only now hearing about a cinematic sequel.

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Any Stephen King fan knows that the acclaimed writer’s own sequel to The Shining was released in 2013. The novel, Doctor Sleep, told the story of a grown-up Danny Torrance - who now goes by Dan - as he must face the demons that have haunted him since the death of his father. For those of you waiting for the sequel to be made into a feature film, it was recently announced that one of genre’s brightest filmmakers, Mike Flanagan, has taken on writing and directing duties to bring DOCTOR SLEEP to life. For my money, he is a terrific choice, and he has more than proven himself with his filmography; that includes his acclaimed take on King’s GERALD’S GAME that is currently on Netflix. The filmmaker is a solid choice to handle such a massive project. I just wish that I could say I have complete faith.

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With this news, why do I feel so trepidatious about a sequel to one of the greatest works of cinema ever made? Since the film’s release, there has been some controversy in the way Kubrick adapted the work. King himself was very disappointed with Kubrick’s vision. While he appreciated many of the visual aspects, it was a very different animal from his own slightly autobiographical tale (King was suffering from alcoholism when he wrote the novel). Personally, I loved the surreal and strange aspects of the movie. Yes, the original work is fantastic, but something about Kubrick’s imagery really connected with this viewer. But can we reconnect to what Kubrick did with a new movie, almost 40 years after THE SHINING hit theaters?

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Thus, there is a major problem that I see plaguing a sequel to THE SHINING, do you make a sequel to Kubrick’s version? Doctor Sleep, if anything, is closer a sequel to King’s novel - or the serviceable TV-movie starring Steven Weber and Rebecca De Morney from 1997. If you read Doctor Sleep's official synopsis, you'll see it simply has almost nothing to do with the 1980 feature aside from the main character:

On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless—mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and tween Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the “steam” that children with the “shining” produce when they are slowly tortured to death.

Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant “shining” power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes “Doctor Sleep.”

Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival. This is an epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of hyper-devoted readers of The Shining and wildly satisfy anyone new to the territory of this icon in the King canon.

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Not only is there going to be an issue with which story to tell, you also have to get audiences interested. With the recent adaptation of IT, there is certainly money to be made from King adaptations. Yet when you make a sequel to something so many years later, it rarely manages to generate a ton of excitement from ticket buyers. From the recent and disappointing box office of T2 TRAINSPOTTING, BLADE RUNNER 2049 and BLAIR WITCH - all sequels that took several years to finally get a release - "long awaited sequels" rarely generate a ton of heat. With the exception of MAD MAX: FURY ROAD or STAR WARS, continuing a saga from decades ago is a huge risk that rarely pays off. Even when it is considered a classic. In fact, it is very likely even more risky when the original has the incredible acclaim and influence that THE SHINING has.

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Maybe it’s the booze talkin’, but I wonder if it too late for a Shining sequel. The original is a classic work that still terrifies audiences today. For a film that came out nearly four decades ago, that is a huge achievement. Even with the controversy over Stephen King’s reaction to the film, and of course some fans of the novel who agree with him, can anything live up to the magnitude of Kubrick’s cinematic vision. And while I appreciate what the novel Doctor Sleep may bring us, is it too different from Kubrick’s take? I certainly have faith in Flanagan, but bringing the terrifying Torrance legacy back to theaters is going to be a very tricky thing to do. As a massive fan of THE SHINING - it’s one of my all time favorites - my fear is that it’s a little too late to return to the remains of the Overlook Hotel.

Extra Tidbit: What do you think? Are you looking forward to DOCTOR SLEEP?
Source: AITH



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