It's Lucky The Shining Prequel Movie Never Happened (Just Leave It Alone) – Screen Rant

Mike Flanagan would have done a great job with The Shining prequel movie, but the original’s unsettling mysteries would have been undermined.
With Mike Flanagan confirming that his The Shining prequel movie will no longer be made, it is arguably for the best in preserving the unsettling enigma that is Stanley Kubrick's seminal horror film. Flanagan is one of the most gifted filmmakers working in horror today, creating great Netflix shows like Midnight Mass and The Midnight Club. He also has directed brilliant horror films like Oculus, Hush, and two other Stephen King adaptations already, Gerald's Game and Doctor Sleep, the latter a belated sequel to The Shining.
Flanagan's character-centric take on horror cinema and TV would likely have resulted in an interesting The Shining prequel movie, which was once the plan. However, even the most talented and imaginative of directors would likely create a prequel that would undercut one of the original's greatest strengths: the abiding mystery behind why the Overlook Hotel became so evil. That ambiguity is one of the reasons why The Shining is one of the most theorized and scrutinized films ever made, even spawning a documentary about its possible meanings and subtexts called Room 237. It is also why it is one of the most terrifying, preying on the audience's fear of the unknown and the unknowable.
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After Flanagan completed his adaptation of King's Doctor Sleep in 2019, he spoke about his plan to direct a prequel film based on King's novels. The plot centered on Dick Hallorann, the head chef at the Overlook who also has the shining and who Danny befriends before Dick is murdered by Jack near the film's end. In August 2020, Flanagan confirmed that the film had been put on indefinite hold, and in September 2022, he shared The Shining prequel movie was dead after Warner Bros. was disappointed by Doctor Sleep's box office performance.
There has of course already been an expansion of The Shining's canon and King's wider universe. Doctor Sleep is a thoughtful and poignant novel about grief and remorse as well as a frightening work of horror, qualities which are ably adapted by Flanagan. The director proved in Doctor Sleep that he understood King's work as character-driven horror, which is why the author favors Flanagan's adaptation to Kubrick's take on The Shining. Flanagan would almost certainly have done another expansion of King's work justice, but the singular vision of The Shining is partly what makes it such a disturbing masterpiece.
While The Shining novel explores more of the Overlook's history of murders, including the origins of the man wearing the bear costume Wendy sees in the film's climax and the woman in room 237 who traumatizes Danny, the film benefits from Kubrick's decision to ignore their backstories. Much of the movie's horror comes from the ghosts' unnerving and incomprehensible appearances, especially given the audience experiences them at the same time as the principal characters. While a prequel would not necessarily dilute the power and horror of Kubrick's The Shining, arguably, it would cause it to lose some of its mystique. Flanagan translating further King novels and short stories to screen, however, would be fantastic.
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Kieran is a junior features editor at Screen Rant. Formerly a staff writer covering football/soccer at The Athletic and a freelance culture journalist before that, he is an Edinburgh-based film and TV obsessive. He loves everything from rewatching Akira Kurosawa films for the 10th time to poring over every detail in the latest Mike Flanagan show. Also an unrepentant Apple TV+ evangelist.


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