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Stephen King’s The Shining

Year: 1997
Production Co: Warner Bros Television
Director: Mick Garris
Writer: Stephen King
Cast: Stephen Weber, Rebecca DeMornay, Melvin Van Peebles, Pat Hingle, Elliott Gould
Never entirely happy with Stanley Kubrick's reimagining of his vision (and no matter how much you love or hate the seminal 1980 effort, aspects of it were too far removed from the book to be a faithful adaptation), Stephen King wrote the screenplay and attached long time King TV miniseries director Garris to it to bring the authoritative vision to the screen.

For example, he's gone on record as saying he disliked the casting of Jack Nicholson - his idea of Jack Torrance is of a man slowly driven insane by the Overlook, not a man we all believe is insane to start with.

It deserves points for being true to the novel - a 90 minute film could never do the intricacies of the characters and relationships (of the human and spirit characters) justice apart from a few abject frights, and for some reason, it seems unjust to either version to compare them. This was made for a much more restrictive medium where the bloodshed and horror had to be kept to a minimum Kubrick had no obligation to observe.

And that restriction is more a blessing than a curse. King never mentioned elevators spilling blood into an empty corridor, a nerve-jangling chase through the hedge maze, or Jack's manic face through the split-open door with his leery 'Heeeere's Johnny!'

But much of the horror of the novel was in the implication of violence and gore that the hotel always threatened but rarely had to inflict, and as such Garris and King get to enjoy setting up sequences of tension rather than bloodporn and do so effectively.

A midday movie-calibre cast does an adequate job portraying each character. Especially the precocious kid who plays Danny - he's not Peter Cushing but he's the key element in many sequences and is exposed to most of the horrors, and to get a little kid to react to that as a professional actor is a big ask.

The kernel of the story is of recovering alcoholic Jack Torrance and his family of three moving to a secluded Colorado Rockies hotel to be the winter caretaker, with no idea the hotel is haunted by its 'colourful' past.

Jack slowly unravels while the spirits use his weakness to reach his son Danny - blessed with incredible psychic powers the kindly chef Halloran calls 'the shining' - while his helpless wife Wendy looks on in increasing fear.

Full of the things you know and love from the book, like the horrible woman in room 217 and the hedge animals, and as creepy a TV event as you're likely to see.

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