Published in 1977, The Shining is still considered an iconic novel in the Psychological Horror genre. It’s a story about a couple, Jack and Wendy, their 5-year-old son, Danny, (who possess ‘the shining’ – a unique psychic ability which allows him to experience clairvoyance) and their time at the Overlook Hotel, a prominent, isolated hotel with a dark and ominous past. King skillfully creates a compelling plot by divulging into the psychology of each character. The hotel itself is another character in the story. With multiple entities, ghosts and cursed objects acting as a hive mind, the Hotel tries to possess Jack and drive him to harm his family.
Upon its release, the book immediately attracted a large following of people who contemplated its details and various interpretations. These discussions and fan theories increased exponentially after Stanley Kubrick released his film adaptation in 1980.
Drawing on the smallest interactions that the characters have with each other and building on their dialogues, Kubrick managed to envision and portray a whole new side of the story. However, a lot of fans noted that there were numerous inconsistencies in the film. For example, the furniture would mysteriously disappear and appear, or the direction of objects would change in the same scene. But given that Kubrick himself was so involved in the cinematography and the editing of the film; it was hard to believe that these mistakes were overlooked. By nitpicking on these little inconsistencies, people came up with multiple fan theories. The countless theories on YouTube go on to illustrate how complex human psychology can be if you start tearing it apart.
Upon revisiting the novel after watching the film and listening to fan theories, one can identify all the elements and dialogues in the book which give way to these different interpretations. These elements act like a gateway into the world of The Shining, allowing the readers to conjure their own theories.
Thus, The Shining, not only offers its readers a tantalizing horror story but after watching the film, the audience is further introduced to a unique way of engaging with its narrative. It’s the kind of story that will make you regret drinking that last glass of water before going to bed. And the kind of story that will make you ponder over its multiple interpretations as you lie awake in bed, too scared to enter your washroom. But at the end of the day, Stephen King’s brilliant story coupled with Stanley Kubrick’s genius imagination makes it all worth it.