I read The Shining during my big Stephen King phase back in high school. devouring nearly all his books from Carrie up through Gerald’s Game. I’ve run across Stanley Kubrick’s version countless times in TV reruns over the years and I think I’ve seen the entire film, but never in one uninterrupted, sequential sitting….though I did catch the 2013 documentary Room 237, which tabulated conspiracy theories about Kubrick’s deep, dark, double-secret meanings with which the film was allegedly fraught if you paid more attention to the backgrounds than to the actors.
Decades later, King returned to the remains of the Torrance family with the sequel novel Doctor Sleep, which I haven’t read. The sequel film it inspired from writer/director Mike Flanagan (Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House) was escorted surreptitiously into theaters in the middle of an unusually packed November release schedule, then quietly ushered out the back doors, as if it were trying to escape the spotlight before Jack Nicholson came after it with an ax. As we prepare to trudge defensively into this long weekend in which internet folks will be slap-fighting over sequels that cling slavishly to their 40-year-old progenitors, why not pause and pay respects to a sequel that struck a dexterous balance between old confections and new directions.