We're in the midst of a new Stephen King-on-film renaissance, the kind that's generating money faster than Hollywood can count it. New King projects are being announced at a furious clip, from never-before-adapted properties (The Long Walk, From a Buick 8) to adaptations that have already had their day in court ('Salem's Lot; a new, 10-hour version of The Stand) to novels the reigning Master of Horror actually wrote with somebody else (In The Tall Grass, The Talisman).
Meanwhile, Warner Bros. is gearing up to release Mike Flanagan's highly-anticipated Doctor Sleep, King's sequel to The Shining (and, if those trailers are any indication, a direct sequel to Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of the film). Regardless of how that film fares at the box office, we believe it's only a matter of time before WB realizes they're still holding the keys to the quintessential King novel ... and decides to do something with them.
Imagine, then, a scenario where WB announces a new adaptation of The Shining, one which hews closer to the source material (all due respect to Kubrick, of course), is backed by a gigantic budget (relative to, say, the faithful-yet-unfortunate 1997 miniseries based on The Shining) and featuring an all-star cast. It seems inevitable that this very thing will occur sooner or later, and with that in mind, Team BMD got together and drew up a list of the filmmakers we'd most like to see tackle such a project.
Here they are, in no particular order:
Paul Thomas Anderson
This would never, ever happen, but as long as we're shooting for the moon, I'm going with PTA. First of all, he'd bring a level of prestige to the project, which any Shining remake better have if it doesn't want to get eaten alive by the masses immediately upon being announced. Speaking generally, the dude's built a career on examining the lives of characters who are often simmering (if not outright exploding) with anger, which is Jack Torrance all over. If you want to get specific, I'd point out that Magnolia proves Anderson can handle King's themes of addiction and abuse, while Inherent Vice indicates he's meticulously faithful when it comes to translating another writer's voice for the big screen. Plus, I just wanna see this guy do a horror movie! Certain scenes in certain PTA joints have found him edging right up next to the genre without crossing the line, but I'm willing to bet that if were to wade into those dark waters, the results would be glorious. A new Shining demands one of our very best, and PTA is certainly that. Let's make it happen. - Scott Wampler
Katrin Gebbe has emerged as one of the most insanely talented new filmmakers: Following her visceral directorial debut Nothing Bad Can Happen, Gebbe returned this year with Pelican Blood (read my review from Fantastic Fest here) – a different kind of visceral experience, but one every bit as powerful (if not more so) than its precursor). Okay, cool, but why should she direct The Shining? Both of Gebbe's films test the limits of empathy in famililal settings; Nothing Bad Can Happen follows a pious Christian teen taken in by an unbelieving family who systematically tortures him, testing the limits of his faith and compassion, while Pelican Blood tests the limits of an adoptive mother's unwavering empathy when she unwittingly takes in a young girl so deeply traumatized it may have turned her into a sociopath (or worse, a psychopath). Gebbe has a keen eye, not only for shot composition, engaging storytelling, and beautiful-but-unnerving visuals, but also for the deepest recesses of humanity. Stephen King's story is ostensibly one about familial trauma – the inherited kind, the cyclical nature of it, and personal demons made real. It may be unlikely that Gebbe takes on a big studio project based on an iconic property, but if she did, you can bet your ass it would not only be scary as hell, but viscerally emotional, which is exactly what the story requires. - Britt Hayes
This one feels too obvious. I mean, have you seen his movies? Midsommar and The Shining are both darkly comic. And Hereditary shares even more similarities with The Shining: an oppressive atmosphere, its depiction of a character who was probably ready to crack up with or without a helping hand from a demon and its acolytes, a household contending with an unraveling family member, unhinged performances, meticulous production design. If Hereditary isn’t incontrovertible evidence that Aster could handily remake The Shining, I don’t know what is. - Priscilla Page
If WB were going to roll the dice on remaking The Shining, they would immediately come up against the obstacle of trying to live up to a classic made by one of cinema’s most infamous auteurs. They'd also face scrutiny without a big swing of a creative force to back up that blatant cash-money decision. So who is the director with similar clout to Stanley Kubrick (particularly with loud weirdos on the internet), has similar enough style and narrative sensibilities without paying direct homage, and, perhaps most importantly, already has a successful business relationship with WB? The obvious answer here is Christopher Nolan. It’s easy to picture how Nolan would take the cold isolation of Kubrick’s Overlook Hotel and make it even colder, more sterile, possibly as a reflection of how this version of Jack and Wendy’s marriage becomes more frigid. The man clearly has a taste for mind-bending imagery and pushing against the bounds of what a general audience’s psyche, so the spectral spectacle of Jack’s haunting doesn’t even need to bear semblance to Kubrick’s vision to bear similar gravity. Hell, true to Nolan’s form, the nature of Danny’s Shining and Jack’s break from sanity don’t even need to be explicitly grounded in the supernatural and can be left entirely ambiguous, presenting different questions about this family’s dynamic than either King or Kubrick explored. If a remake were to happen, it would need a distinctive take on the material to justify its existence and counter any complaints about redundancy. Christopher Nolan is just the kind of outside-the-box thinker that still appeals to mainstream audiences enough to get curious butts in theater seats and could serve up an adaptation that is entirely its own animal. - Leigh Monson
Josh and Benny Safdie
Jack Torrance is already in pretty bad shape when we meet him in The Shining. He's overwhelmed by his desires and failures; Jack thinks he's in control, but he's not. So what could Josh and Benny Safdie do with his steady descent into insanity and his increasingly manic emotional state? I imagine a version of The Shining where Jack's demons constantly intrude, and where we're pulled into his point of view, leaving Wendy and Danny behind. This would be a horror movie where the ghosts look and act so much like real people that Jack can't realize how much he has given over to them until it is far too late. Maybe taking the Safdies out of New York would terrify them a bit, too. - Russ Fischer
Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani
Stanley Kubrick did what cinema historians have since characterized as a "bang-up job" on his adaptation of The Shining back in 1980, so why even bother tackling the narrative for a second time? By tapping Belgian husband-and-wife duo Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani (the master stylists behind last summer's Let the Corpses Tan, among others) to blow open to doors to abstraction, a remake would effectively excuse itself from comparisons to Kubrick. They wouldn't even be playing the same ballgame; Cattet and Forzani could convey Torrance's madness through color and texture, going sub-verbal for a novel that puts more stock in image than dialogue, anyway. Kubrick's film painstakingly placed the audience in the tortured mind of a man mid-breakdown, but a new one could start on that level of subjectivity and work inward. - Charles Bramesco
If I'm in a room where someone says "Hey, who do you think should direct (movie title goes here)?", I'm probably throwing Jonathan Glazer's name into the mix. Glazer's had an unusual career, working in fits and stops over the years and monkeying around with material which would tend to indicate he has little to no interest in hitting any box office jackpots, but for my money he's one of the most interesting talents in the game. What would he bring to the table on a remake of The Shining? An icy remove, which would pair nicely with the Overlook's twisting hallways and cavernous kitchens and ballrooms. A talent for the otherworldly, which came through (in different ways!) in both Under The Skin and Birth. And if his previous work is any indication, Glazer's The Shining would also be eyeball-ruiningly beautiful (and could maybe even be scored by Mica Levi). You gonna stand here saying no to all that? I'm not. - Scott Wampler
I'm not one of those people who can rattle off the openings of books, but I've never forgotten the first line of The Shining, "Jack Torrance thought: Officious little prick." Jack is interviewing for the Overlook job, and he already hates the hotel's manager, Stuart Ullman. (The character is seen only briefly in Kubrick's film, played by Barry Nelson as a very different man than what King wrote.) Family dynamics are as important to the film as to the novel, even when Kubrick is only tangentially interested in them. Social and economic conflicts are just as deeply rooted in King's book — to the degree that he opens with them — but all but ignored by the film. Bong Joon-ho is better than almost anyone at sewing multiple thematic layers into a cohesive whole. His new film, Parasite, certainly demonstrates the process. You can also look to The Host, and even his debut, Barking Dogs Never Bite, to see how the director can turn an ambitious collection of ideas and concerns into a compelling thriller. Bong might direct The Shining as a great ensemble piece, with more room for Wendy and deeper life for Danny. He could probably even work in the boiler that is the clanging time bomb of King's novel, and make it feel like an essential metaphor for all the misplaced rage that finally destroys Jack. - Russ Fischer
First and foremost, Karyn Kusama should remake The Shining because she’s a fucking great filmmaker. She’s more than proven herself worthy of a project like this - she’s already directed two of the best horror movies of the 21st century: The Invitation and Jennifer’s Body. And then there’s Her Only Living Son, Kusama’s contribution to the anthology horror film XX, a story that feels like the unofficial sequel to Rosemary’s Baby. She’s a master of tension building, as evidenced by the sublimely unsettling The Invitation or the doomy Destroyer, and she understands horror both natural and supernatural. (And let’s be honest, something is already amiss with Jack Torrance before the Overlook Hotel ever casts its spell on him.) She’s made movies about complicated and compelling characters, fractured relationships, familial anxieties, women - and men - on the verge of a nervous breakdown. The Invitation, in particular, is about a whole cult-y group of people ready to snap at any moment in a fraught, claustrophobic environment. As a bonus, Megan Fox in Jennifer’s Body, Michelle Rodriguez in Girlfight, and Nicole Kidman in Destroyer prove that Kusama doesn’t have to torment her actors to get pitch-perfect performances. No one should remake The Shining - but if it must happen - given Kusama’s insight into the darker side of our relationships and ourselves, I’d love to see her do it. - Priscilla Page
I have one word for you: Stoker. But beyond that, Park Chan-wook has established himself as a masterful filmmaker with a knack for exploring deranged familial drama. There's been much talk in recent years of "elevated horror" (eye roll), but what Park does is more along the lines of elevating psychological thrillers into brilliant, twisted dramas. Oldboy, Stoker, Thirst, The Handmaid – each of these films combine dark humor with various personal horrors beautifully, to say nothing of his gorgeous cinematography. Each film is a masterpiece unto itself, and The Shining is such a massive undertaking that requires a sense of both the epic and intensely intimate – something Park has delivered every time. - Britt Hayes
Michael Bay's Pain & Gain is adapted from a series of newspaper articles, and even his most vocal critics tend to agree it's a good film (even his best), so it stands to reason that he should try non-toy adaptations more often. And I can think of no better option than Stephen King's The Shining, which believe it or not is tailor-made for the auteur to "fix" over the previous one. For starters: Wendy Torrance is an attractive blond per King's novel, so Bay would have zero issues with being more faithful than Stanley Kubrick. Also - spoiler - the hotel explodes at the end, something Kubrick changed as well, whereas Bay can be guaranteed to present that moment in glorious fashion. But for those who prefer Kubrick's film to King's book, anyway, he's still bringing plenty of things to the table they can appreciate, including a penchant for driving his actors crazy and caring more about technical matters than their performances. After over fifteen years of producing horror films with his Platinum Dunes outfit, it's time that he steps behind the camera and brings his singular vision to the horror genre. I know you're just as curious as I am what snow would look like with orange filters. - Brian Collins