Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of The Shining, the classic Stephen King novel, is one of my favorite horror films of all time. Sure, it moves at a snail’s pace but there is this incredible send of building dread and terror, as though the film is revving up to a finale that will shock and haunt its audience to their very core. For me, the film succeeded in doing that. You see, I’ve always found horror movies that can actually happen to be the most terrifying, at least in long-term fear. Sure, movies like The Conjuring can freak me out in theaters but once I’m in the real world, that fear is gone. But The Shining and films like Session 9 make me terrified of humanity and the ways that we can lose ourselves in our minds.
In a recent interview with EW, screenwriter Diane Johnson discussed some ideas they had percolating for the film pre-principal photography. It turns out that they decided against the ending in King’s book because according to Johnson, “…Kubrick found it a cliche to just blow everything up.” In the novel, the Overlook erupts into flames as the boiler, which Jack Torrance was supposed to be tending to, overheated and blew up.
One of the most amazing things that was considered was how to include another victim besides Jack because, as Johnson puts it, “…Kubrick really thought somebody should get killed — because it was a horror movie.” What was amazing about this line of thought was that there was actually speculation on the possibility of killing off Danny Torrance, Jack and Wendy’s son. “Danny’s relationship with his father was the thing that most interested Kubrick. He was emotionally involved with the point of view of a little boy who is afraid of his father. I remember Kubrick saying that visually he could imagine a small yellow chalk outline on the floor like that they put around the bodies of victims. And Kubrick liked that image. But he was too tender-hearted for that ending and thought it would be too terrible to do,” Johnson explains.
One idea that was being toyed with in the script was that the Hotel was the culprit behind Jack’s insanity. In a unused version of the script, Wendy kills Jack in self-defense only to have Dick Hallorann arrive and become possessed by the same energy that had taken over Jack. Johnson expands upon this concept, “We always had the powers of the hotel in mind. So the hotel would have been warping Hallorann’s mind for quite a long time. It was an attractive idea that Hallorran is good [throughout the film] then he gets there and is possessed by the hotel into a monster surrogate for Jack.”
You can read the full interview, which has more fascinating reveals, by clicking the link above.