Friday, 1 November 2019

A horror film for Halloween

On Halloween, I head out under the cover of darkness, a tub of sweets by the front door for young trick or treaters on the prowl with their parents, waiting in the shadows.

The theory is that if we get any fancy-dressed callers, then Mr Grigg can deal with them while I'm out.

I'm off to Dorchester to see Doctor Sleep, Stephen King's follow up to The Shining. I enjoyed the book but it's nowhere near as focused and tight as its predecessor, which I've also read, so I'm interested to see what the film is like.

To be honest, I'm not a fan of horror movies. Why pay to be scared witless or to have sleepless nights for days to come?

But it's only a 15 rating, so it can't be that bad.

My brother and sister-in-law pick me up and we make our to way to Dorchester, the mist a-swirling and the rain a-drizzling, perfect conditions for the witching hour.

We enjoy a great pizza from the wood-fired oven of Basilico, a new, unpretentious and independent restaurant just up from the cinema. And we chat about the film and why we are coming to see it when none of us likes scary movies.

I saw The Shining only a few years ago in our village hall, on a similarly wet and windy Halloween night, with about five other people. Having read the book, I was prepared for what was to come, although Stephen King apparently didn't like director Stanley Kubrick's take on the novel.

It's now considered a classic film, with the mania of Jack Nicholson's character becoming ever more sinister as the creepy Overlook Hotel weaves its spell on him, his wife, played by a perpetually terrified Shelley Duvall, and their little boy, Danny, to whom the evil spirits of the hotel are attracted because of his psychic powers.

At the Plaza, members of staff are wearing Joker faces to suit the occasion. This place is the most brilliant of picture houses, being old, independent and very cheap - (comfy) seats are just £3.50 during the week - with all the latest films on show.

We snuggle down in our seats with gummy sweets and watch the adverts and trailers, taking note of Le Mans 66, which looks worth watching.

And then the film begins, following the trajectory of the now grown-up Danny, played by Ewan McGregor.

My sister-in-laws spends most of the time with her head down, not looking at the screen. She would be scared by a paper bag popping. My brother quickly nods off, and I'm left thinking, this is incredibly like the book but it's, well, a bit all over the place. Frankly, it's a bit boring.

I'm rather taken with the character Rose the Hat's hat, but that's the only thing so far that's grabbed my interest. I'm a little confused because actor Rebecca Ferguson looks like Trinny Woodall and I keep expecting Susannah to walk in stage left to suggest to Ewan McGregor that he could do with a change of clothes to improve his image.

The film goes on, and on, and completely lacks the suspense, chills and screams of The Shining. There are too many characters and no sense of place. It's only in the last half hour of a very long film that the mood changes when the location switches to the The Overlook Hotel in the snow.

And then there is a moment when my brother and I shudder in unison. What dreadful terror has caused this? An axe-wielding vision of Jack Nicholson smashing through a door?

The sinister twins in blue dresses at the end of a corridor?

Or the hideous ghost woman in the bathroom of Room 237? 


It's a fluorescent light switching itself on in the hotel.

The film reaches its predictable conclusion in the snowy maze, we sit through the credits and then we make our way home, to sleep, nightmare-free.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

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A horror film for Halloween

On Halloween, I head out under the cover of darkness, a tub of sweets by the front door for young trick or treaters on the prowl with their ...