BOOK (1977)

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 January, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 January, 2010, 12:00am

The Shining
Stephen King

Never one to stay out of the spotlight's eerie glow for long, horror writer Stephen King plans a sequel to his novel turned Stanley Kubrick box office hit, The Shining.

News of the sequel leaked out under dramatic circumstances - a November 2009 interview between King (below) and director David Cronenberg. King, it transpired, had long brooded on how Danny Torrance, the psychic son at the heart of his third novel, would turn out as an adult. Badly, it seems safe to assume, in light of events at the Overlook Hotel: the claustrophobic yet palatial setting for the thriller, whose title was inspired by the John Lennon song Instant Karma!, which contains the line 'We all shine on'.

The Shining opens with a sprinkling of nitty-gritty that grounds the paranormal activity ahead. Meet Danny's dad, Jack: an alcoholic aspiring writer rebooting after breaking the arm of his then three-year-old son and attacking a pupil at a Vermont prep school where he taught. Determined to sober up and stay out of trouble, Jack accepts a job as a winter caretaker at the Colorado resort hotel with a turbulent past. He, his wife Wendy, and their son duly move into the Overlook.

More than just haunted, the Overlook uses the living and the dead to its own malign ends. Because Danny proves hard to possess, the Overlook turns its malign charm on the flawed father, who is duly assimilated and becomes demonic. Bedlam follows.

In one of the most memorably deranged scenes in literature, Jack sabotages the hotel snowmobile then thumps Wendy with a croquet mallet. Despite sustaining multiple fractures, she implausibly resists, stabbing Jack with a butcher knife. Wendy then crawls away and locks herself in the bathroom of the caretaker's suite. Jack pursues. The chaos mounts before the showdown capped by an eerily calm ending that lends the story to elaboration.

The title to the sequel, Doctor Sleep, is a promising start. But, like amateur ghost hunters' efforts at proving the presence of spirits, sequels often flop. Even King - the embodiment of the cliche 'master storyteller' - may struggle to follow the epic that made his reputation through melding Gothic drama with true-crime grit. Walk into any of the real-life hotels that resemble his stomping ground and you still may fancy you hear Mad Jack screaming: 'Heeeere's Johnny!'


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BOOK (1977)

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