There are four movies I put in this category: Poltergeist, The Omen, The Exorcist and The Shining. These are movies I brought with me from my life before I became obsessed with horror movies back in 2007. I chose The Shining because it’s a challenge to write about it. I can barely bring myself to write about the movie without falling into a Wayne’s World paroxysm of unworthiness.
For once I’d like to stick to the topic assigned by the meme: why, exactly do I watch this movie more than any other horror movie? (I’m going to ignore Stephen King’s source material because the movie is a completely different entity which shares only surface features with the novel in my opinion. ) It’s because it addresses my greatest fear as a spiritual person: being trapped unaware in the earthly plane after my death. I feel that the Overlook hotel is a metaphor for one part of the afterlife, which some people might describe as hell but which I believe is more of a purgatory.
The spirits in the hotel are figuratively frozen there as surely as the Torrance family is literally frozen there. All the ghosts we see are people who haven’t been able to let go of earthly pleasures, even the twins, who still just want to play. Jack has written the same sentence over and over for a month because he too just wants to play. He is not able to move past his alcoholism or his reluctance to man up and take care of his family. This allows the hotel to trap him in purgatory. We know he is trapped because Grady tells him he has always been there and because the final image of the film shows Jack in a photo taken at the Overlook in 1921.
Fortunately, as Dick Halloran tells us, the things the Overlook shows us can’t really hurt us. So I’ll probably watch the movie a few dozen more times before I go to that great ballroom in the sky.