Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, Dumb & Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd, The Scorpion King. Video stores and streaming services everywhere are filled with prequels that never quite lived up to the original, sometimes causing disappointment and in other -- more extreme -- cases angering the very audience it was meant for. Often, a prequel will try so hard to recapture the magic of its predecessor it cleaves to closely to the original plot and characters. It's no wonder that there is a great sense of nervousness around The Overlook Hotel, the prequel to Stanley Kubrick's classic horror film The Shining.
Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo) is directing the prequel, and while it would be folly to compare his work directly to that of Kubrick, he certainly has an interesting resume, working in music videos and directing the sci-fi coming of age story Never Let Me Go. We now have a better idea of what this film will entail, and it sounds like the Torrance family will not factor into it at all, thankfully.
James Vanderbilt, one of the producers of The Overlook Hotel, recently spoke with Collider about the pressures of taking on The Shining and how this film will stand on its own, as it is only tangentially connected to its famous predecessor.
“You want a real filmmaker like Mark doing it… Honestly I think people will really be excited about it, because it’s not like ’20 Years Before The Shining!’. I don’t want to give too much away about the story but the way [screenwriter] Glen [Mazzara] cracked it and the way Mark has sort of cracked it, it’s completely it’s own film, which I think is super smart. It’s not like, ‘When Scatman Crothers was young, he…’ it’s not that.”
While we still do not know the specifics of the plot, Vanderbilt is effusive in his praise for the director, who clearly has a strong vision for what the movie will be. Romanek has parted ways with a number of studios over creative differences; namely, The Wolfman and Disney’s live-action Cinderella. But it sounds like he and Warner Bros. are on the same page for this production.
“One of the things that’s amazing about [Mark] is that he’s a strong filmmaker with his own convictions, and Mark is gonna make the movie Mark is gonna make… I think there’s something wonderful about a director who says, ‘No, this is the film.’ Fincher was the same way. It’s like, ‘This is the movie I wanna make. If you don’t wanna make that movie, that’s totally cool, then we won’t make the movie.’ And now as someone who’s directed a film, that’s kinda what you want. You want the captain of the ship to be like, ‘I know what the film is, I know how to make it, let’s go do it.’”
This seems like a reasonable approach to a tricky problem. There needs to be enough connection to the original film to warrant its involvement with the franchise, but avoid simply rehashing events from the original. It is far too early to say if this film will be able to crack the prequel code for horror movies -- something that Hollywood has struggled with for decades -- but there is reason to be optimistic that the talent involved will at least make the film unique.
Screen Rant will keep you up to speed on developments concerning The Overlook Hotel.