I thought I knew the story of ‘The Shining’. The book and film are iconic. If you haven’t read the book or seen the film, you know about the blood elevator, the tricycle, the twins and the typewriter. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” NONE OF THESE THINGS FEATURE IN THE BOOK. I delved deeper into the world of ‘The Shining’ to find that Stephen King is not a fan of the Stanley Kubrick film and I can see why. The film does not resemble the book in the slightest! There’s poetic license then there’s the likes of Stanley Kubrick and Jane Goldman. (The Woman in Black film is NOT The Woman in Black story AT ALL!) Before I continue, I know the film and the book can never be the same but when you change fundamental plot points you are being disrespectful.
Having never seen and will never see the film, I can’t comment on the plot of the film but I think it’s a fair assumption to say that the book is more… subtle. The Overlook Hotel creeps under your skin and into your mind. It plays tricks on you, insidious and shrewd, not lavish and over the top like the film suggests. That’s all Kubrick spectacle. King wants to you to feel uneasy. King wants you to hear voices, fear the smell of oranges and wary of topiary. Add those to statues and “my biggest fan” to my list of things to be scared of.
For me, this book wasn’t about the supernatural happenings or the Overlook Hotel. In fact, I overlooked the hotel completely. (I’ll see myself out.) I think we’re meant to. At its heart, this is a book about that toxic relationship with between father and son in all its horror. The spiralling destructive force of substance abuse, and physical and mental abuse. The book constantly shifted between three narratives: Jack, Wendy and Danny. We watch Jack fall and watch Danny rise, brilliantly echoing Jack’s own troubled childhood. The writing is organic, King breaks many so called rules to create the right voice and atmosphere. He places you in that person’s head and feel their fear as your own.
‘The Shining’ was everything I wanted it to be and more. I’ve also read ‘Misery’ by the same author and it had the sameaffect. I become paranoid. Much like Jack, I couldn’t trust objects to remain stationary. I’ve also started working in a hotel (a spooky coincidence), and I can’t help but think if anyone has died there. Been murdered there. It’s a chain and I don’t think it’s been owned by violent “businessmen” but all buildings have history. They all have their ghosts. We all have ghosts inside us, haunted by secrets. It’s important not to let those secrets consume us. That’s a good way to finding yourself in a murderous rampage.