The Shining, one of the scariest horror films of all time, may be getting a big-screen backstory. In the classic 1980 film, adapted from the Stephen King novel of the same name, troubled patriarch Jack Torrance — played unforgettably by Jack Nicholson — attempts to kill his wife and psychic son while holed up in a deserted, potentially haunted hotel in the Colorado mountains. Director Stanley Kubrick's adaptation was chillingly successful, in large part because of its unanswered questions — namely, was Torrance's violent meltdown caused by the Overlook Hotel's ghosts or simply the result of an unbalanced man succumbing to cabin fever? Now, whether fans like it or not, such questions may soon be answered, as Warner Bros. "quietly explores" the possibility of a prequel. Here, a guide to what we know so far:
Is Stephen King involved?
Not yet, at least. And King never wrote a prequel, so there is no source material to use as a jumping-off point. Also, King famously disliked Kubrick's adaptation, which wasn't particularly faithful to the book. However, the best-selling author is working on a sequel to The Shining, called Doctor Sleep, which reportedly focuses on Danny Torrance, the telepathic son, in his troubled adult life. The book is scheduled to hit shelves in January 2013.
So... who is involved?
The studio is quick to point out that the project is "in a very early stage," so there's still a chance it will never see the light of day. But Warner Bros. has reportedly lined up a solid team that includes Laeta Kalogridis, who wrote and produced the macabre Shutter Island, and her partners Bradley Fischer, who produced Shutter Island and Black Swan, and James Vanderbilt, who wrote Black Swan. Together, they will reportedly craft a new take on what happened before the Torrances arrived at the Overlook Hotel.
What events might the prequel cover?
There are two likely subjects: The Overlook Hotel, or the Torrance family. Some movie buffs speculate that the prequel would focus on the Overlook's previous caretakers (at least one of whom, we know from the movie, killed his family while suffering from cabin fever). Or perhaps we'll get a glimpse into what previously happened in Room 237 (the hotel's violent epicenter), or learn more about the life and telepathic skills of hotel chef Dick Hollorann. Alternatively, if the filmmakers focus on the Torrance family, the movie might dive into their seemingly happy life before the Rocky Mountains bloodbath, or delve deeper into the telepathic abilities of son Danny.
Are fans excited about a prequel?
No. Even if King were involved, the film would still be "hard for a lot of movie fans to swallow," says Katey Rich at Cineblend. Travis Woods at ScreenCrave isn't as gentle, calling the idea "wholly unnecessary," while others see this as just another case of Hollywood "sniffing for easy money."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How Israel's hawks intimidated and silenced the last remnants of the anti-war left
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- Why China thinks it could defeat the U.S. in battle
- The secret to handling pressure like astronauts, Navy SEALs, and samurai
- Welcome to the age of ambivalent feminism
- The real lesson of Rick Perry's mug shot
- The big policy question libertarians can't answer
- What you need to know before you support the police in Ferguson
- Why your employer should clean your house and do your laundry
- What is Molly? Everything you need to know about the party drug
Subscribe to the Week