Warner Bros. is reportedly “quietly exploring the possibility” of a prequel to The Shining. A WB spokeswoman told the LA Times that the project is at a very early stage and not even formally in development. But now that the report is published, it will be difficult for the studio to explore the idea quietly, and it is hard to believe that you all will react positively to the news. At first glance, it sounds like a terrible idea. The Shining is about a relatively normal writer who takes his family to an isolated hotel and slowly descends into madness. The prequel will be set before this character journey begins, and so will tell the story of… what, exactly? To be fair, the presence of a psychic son should offer some plot possibilities. [Edit: A commenter brings up a possibility that I stupidly overlooked: the movie follows other characters during their stay at the Overlook Hotel rather than the Torrance family. That is indeed a more viable premise.]
The bright spot is the team in charge of development: writer/producers Laeta Kalogridis (Shutter Island) and James Vanderbilt (Zodiac) with their producing partner Bradley Fischer (Black Swan). There are solid psychological horror credits in those parentheses, so if there is a story to be told, they’ll find it. More after the jump.
This is the third example that confirms the trend of Hollywood pursuing prequels to classic horror films. Carlton Cuse (Lost) is in charge of the Psycho prequel series The Bates Motel at A&E, and Bryan Fuller (Pushing Daisies) will tell the story of Hannibal Lecter before he was incarcerated on Hannibal over at NBC. Both The Bates Motel and Hannibal seem like better ideas (relatively speaking) because we get to see the Norman Bates and Dr. Lecter grow into the monsters we know.
Stephen King—the author of the book that Stanley Kubrick adapted to the 1980 film—is working on a sequel novel to The Shining titled Doctor Sleep. Doctor Sleep follows psychic Dan Torrance into middle age as he settles into a New Hampshire town “where his remnant ‘shining’ power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying.” I imagine that will stir up studio interest soon enough. Here is the official synopsis:
Stephen King returns to the characters and territory of one of his most popular novels ever, The Shining, in this instantly riveting novel about the now middle-aged Dan Torrance (the boy protagonist of The Shining) and the very special twelve-year-old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals.
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.
“Aided by a prescient cat…” Man, why are all the cats I know so obtuse?