No matter how much Stephen King hates this adaptation of his book, I love it. I also love the book form of The Shining, but they certainly are different animals.
Right from the ominous music that plays as an otherwise innocent-looking Volkswagen drives through beautiful mountain landscapes, we know something is not right. Something is going to go wrong. Only a few minutes into Jack’s interview at the hotel and his impassive face as he learns about the horrific murder that occurred there only a few years earlier. His response? “And as far as my wife is concerned… I’m sure she’ll be absolutely fascinated when l tell her.” Quite odd, especially given what we’re shown of Wendy throughout the film. One of King’s complaints about the movie is exactly this, whereas in the book we have a Jack who is really trying to resist the evil of the hotel. He’s made mistakes, but he’s still a good person at heart. In the movie this is not so. And I love this quote from King, “And it’s so misogynistic. I mean, Wendy Torrance is just presented as this sort of screaming dishrag.” She really is one of the most irritating horror movie heroines ever. That was the one improvement seen in the TV-miniseries remake of 1997.
But there is so much good here, if one can overlook some stilted, over-the-top acting. The way many of the scenes are framed and filmed are just so darn effectively creepy. Those twins. That strange encounter in Room 237. The elevator full of blood. Danny’s REDRUM voice. The ominous music at surprising moments.
While we do get the sense that Jack was probably not the most mentally stable person to take on the Overlook hotel, the hotel has a very strong presence, therefore my recommendations tonight will be based on hotels:
- 1408 (2007) – Stephen King must have a bit of a thing about hotels… This is one of the better adaptations of his works – but this is based off of a short story. I believe I recommended this one in another recent post… it really is worth a watch if you haven’t seen it.
- American Horror Story: Hotel (2015) – You don’t need to have watched any of the other seasons to enjoy the 5th season of AHS. This hotel is quite evil, being populated by both vampires and the ghosts of serial killers (among other ghosts). I haven’t been a huge fan of many of the AHS seasons aside from the first, but I really loved the music and tone of this one.
- The Innkeepers (2011) – Another one I think I’ve already recommended. Two amateur ghosthunters decide to try to get evidence of a hotel’s haunting before it closes.
- Room 237 (2012) – Some of the conspiracy theories in this documentary are far-fetched, but others make a lot of sense, especially those surrounding the change made from the book’s Room 217 to the movie’s Room 237 and what that means.
- Vacancy (2007) – A couple stays at a sketchy motel, only to discover that they are being filmed.