Book vs. Movie: “The Shining”

I have spent the last couple weeks making my way through Stephen King’s The Shining a horror literature classic that my dad gave me for Christmas. As I was reading the book, my parents asked me about some familiar and iconic movie scenes and how I enjoyed reading them. After finishing the book and not coming across those scenes, I realized that there were some stark contrasts between the novel and Stanley Kubrick’s re-imagined classic. Thus, I decided to do research and have conversations with my dad about the differences between the two entertainment sources, and analyze their impact on their respective audiences.

Several subtle differences to the atmosphere have occurred to properly terrify audiences according to the type of media consumed. For instance, Danny’s interaction with the “wolf-man” is replaced with Wendy’s vision of a man in a bear suit in the movie. While both concepts are frightening in description and convey similar themes, the “wolf-man” is more cartoonish and sudden, showing the experience as one would expect from a terrified child’s mind. However, the movie interpretation is more unnerving than a typical jumpscare, showcased in a quick zoom shot that cannot be as successfully accomplished in a literary style. These differences in interpretation thus offer a similar effect using entirely different scare techniques, both appropriate for the interpretation and entertainment style it’s present in. Additional scenes, such as Danny turning a corner to find himself faced with the twins and the blood-filled elevator, are not present in the book due to their unnerving and sudden appearances, something that cannot be done through King’s detailed descriptive writing. The strongest and most important setting difference between the book and the movie is the animal-shaped hedges, replaced in the move by a maze. This has a profound effect on the plot, and is known as one of the most memorable features of the film’s Overlook hotel.

Concept and character differences make up an even more influential part of the contrast between the two versions. In King’s book, it is made abundantly clear that while Jack has his demons to deal with regardless of his position, the hotel is genuinely haunted and a large factor in his eventual descent into madness. This is shown through his son Danny, and the kid’s ability to sense the ghosts of the Overlook through what the cook Halloran calls “The Shine”. In the movie, however, Danny’s power is less intense, and we are forced to question if Jack is truly seeing things and going crazy due to his own guilt and violent tendencies. One of my least favorite aspects of Kubrick’s adaptation is his treatment of Wendy Torrance, the leading lady of the story. In the novel, Wendy is much more powerful and independent, able to defend herself and her son from Jack. She even goes as far as to use a tiny shaving razor to defend herself, showing her resourcefulness when faced with impossible odds.

Because a story is always most well known for its plot, it is important to take note of the plot differences between the two media forms. In the book, the story ends with Halloran trudging through the snow to rescue Danny, taking the mother and son away on a snowmobile as the Overlook explodes with Jack inside. However, the movie takes a more eerie and suspenseful approach, all while killing off Halloran once he steps inside the hotel. Jack chases Danny through the hedge maze, and he eventually escapes, leaving Jack to freeze to death in his madness. The movie closes with an image from a 1920’s scrapbook picture, Jack being seen at the center of the party, symbolizing how Jack has become one of the eternal ghosts of the Overlook. Due to plot differences, this haunting final image does not present itself in the novel. Additional plot differences such as Jack’s weapon (an axe in the movie and a mallet in the novel) and the fate of Jack’s play are changed for the sake of forwarding the plot, allowing for characters to meet certain fates or build up to truly terrifying moments.

The Shining as a whole is a brilliant story filled with terrors, dread, and undeniably interesting characters. Both materials have stood the test of time and lived up to their reputation. As a literature fan, I am impartial to King’s original story due to its fascinating writing style and descriptions of themes and slow dread building to the plot’s climax. However, I also give credit to Kubrick’s film for its ability to terrify audiences in its own way. While not exactly holding true to the source material and thus an inadequate adaptation, it carves its own path in horror media as a phenomenally crafted film with its own story to tell.

-Bailey L.

The Shining by Stephen King is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Movie Review: Spectral

If ghost and ghost hunting is your thing, then I recommend the movie Spectral on Netflix. I will firstly say that the movie is PG-13, so please do not watch if violent movies are not your thing (contrary to the previous sentence). 

Basically, researcher Dr. Mark Clyne is approached by a military general, showing him a video from a fallen soldier’s goggles. Visible in the video is a mysterious, almost translucent apparition that had suddenly attacked the soldier, killing almost instantaneously. These “anomalies” were later named as Arratare.

These “ghosts” were invisible to the naked eye and were completely bulletproof, making even the strongest military weapons useless. 

Clyne is sent to Moldova (bordered by Romania and Ukraine), where the US military is currently deployed. Clyne and CIA officer Fran Madison begin to work with the Delta Force in order to come up with a plan to defeat the anomalies with weapons that actually had an effect. 

After further observation and a scary encounter with the Arratare, Clyne realizes that these anomalies are actually man made, meaning that there was a way to stop the anomalies before they kill anymore people. 

This movie has so many unexpected twists and turns (even though I may have given away some crucial information… sorry). 

I give this movie a 8.5/10, and totally recommend watching this movie to chase away the boring days of quarantine. 

-Phoebe L. 

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book is about a kid who lives in a graveyard due to the murder of his parents. Bod Owens, short for Nobody lives in a graveyard and is raised by ghosts and mentored by an apparition neither from the world of the living nor the dead named Silas.

As the book goes on, readers learn more about the man that killed Bod’s family. It turns out that he was hired, and is part of an organization called the Jacks of All Trades. As Bod explores the graveyard and learns to do things like disappear or phase through things he comes to the realization that he will soon have to go out into the real world. This realization scares him because the man that killed his family hasn’t been caught, and is probably still looking for him.

Silas and Mr and Mrs. Owens prepare him for a confrontation with the man, and it comes sooner than expected, and with more men from the Jacks of All Trades. Bod picks them off one by one, and finally comes face to face with the Jack that was supposed to kill him. Using his knowledge of the graveyard, Bod traps Jack and escapes. After this, he starts seeing the ghosts less and less often, until he can no longer see them.

-Emilio V.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

With a chilling and intriguing beginning, Neil Gaiman instills a desire to keep reading. It’s one of those books that you almost cannot put down once you start. Gaiman’s unique plot line and incredible writing skills create such a vivid image in your head, it’s like you’re standing right there, in the middle of a graveyard.

Starting off with the gruesome death of a family, Gaiman automatically begins his book with an adventure. The story only gets better when the reader realizes the family’s baby slipped away unnoticed by the killer and ventures out the front door to, where else, but a graveyard. Gaiman writes with a dramatic, ominous tone and paints a picture of the dark sky and lonely graveyard. After a suspenseful scene, the baby is hidden by the intrigued spirits of the yard in the nick of time. A problem begins to rise when residents of the graveyard debate if the child should be taken in or not. Soon it is revealed that the human child will be adopted by the spirits and granted the Freedom of the Graveyard. The baby is introduced with a new name, Nobody “Bod” Owens, and the novel unwinds to reveal Bod’s adventures within the graveyard premises. Surely with the hundreds of ghosts to the mysterious man who lives on the borderline of life and death, Bod would be safe. But Gaiman’s novel doesn’t rest on safety and support; rather it’s the complete opposite.

Gaiman spins off into a wonderful journey starting from when Bod is at the young age of four. The graveyard holds many thrills and Bod makes no hesitation to jump right in. He befriends fellow humans and goes on reckless adventures, specifically to the grave of a Sleer: a snakelike creature who is the oldest creature in the graveyard and guards precious treasure. Bod also has a tendency to get himself into trouble; this is a result of his curiosity and mischievous personality. He literally falls into a death trap when he falls through a ghoul gate. He is transported into the Underworld and is on the brink of death before he is rescued by an unlikely soul. The young protagonist continues to stumble through life inside and outside of the graveyard. He encounters near death, celebratory dances, risky friendships and lasting memories until the end.

Neil Gaiman uniquely twists the themes of love, home, safety and family by setting his story in a graveyard, a place normally acquainted with death, gore, horror and dullness. Bod realizes that life is always changing and there’s always more to discover. The reader learns along with Bod, runs side by side Bod in his adventures, fights evil alongside Bod and ultimately, falls in love with the graveyard as Bod does.

-Jessica T.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded from Overdrive and Hoopla

Ashes to Ashes by Melissa Walker

Image result for ashes to ashes by melissa walkerCallie McPhee is prepared to have a great summer. She has her boyfriend Nick, her best friend Carson, and a new BMW. Even though her best friend is still obsessed with ghosts, and Nick seems a little bit off lately, Callie knows that she is going to have a great summer before her junior year. Except when tragedy strikes while Callie is speeding and distracted by a phone call from Nick. This isn’t the summer she imagined.

Callie wakes up in something called the Prism, where she finds out she’s dead and is assigned a Guide named Thatcher. Callie isn’t a “normal” ghost, and develops a rebellious streak. She wants to live a little by hanging out with the “bad” group of ghosts and haunt on her own. But when the poltergeists, the bad group, starts turning more dangerous, Callie must figure what’s right. She has to watch her father, friend, and boyfriend go through different types of grief, and sort out her new feelings for Thatcher. When the poltergeists go past a boundary that Callie didn’t know was possible and Thatcher feared, they must do the impossible. Will the poltergeists stop? Read the book to find out.

I thought Ashes to Ashes was a great paranormal romance novel. Once you read this book, you have to know what happens next in the sequel, Dust to Dust. Ashes to Ashes makes you think a lot about ghosts. I will recommend this book to anyone who wants a good paranormal romance book.

-Rebecca V.

Ashes to Ashes is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

The Conjuring

the_conjuringThe Conjuring, supposedly a true story, is about a family in the 1960’s that move into a new house and start to experience supernatural occurrences. The plot of the movie focuses on the strange and frightening things happening to the family and the couple who tries to help them because they “hunt” ghosts and demons. The movie starts off with a peek into another horror film, Annabelle, which led me to believe I was watching the wrong movie at first. After the clip ends, the scene shifts to a classroom where the couple teach people about the beings they hunt to stop them from haunting and killing people. Here, they meet the mother of the family and learn about the things living in her house. It’s interesting because there isn’t just one ghost but many spirits haunting the land. After the team of hunters settle into the house, more supernatural action happens which is scary to see at first just because this movie isn’t very predictable, which is one of the things I like about it.

An interesting addition to the characters is that the wife in the couple has a sort of sixth sense which allows her to sense the entities around her, only making her more fun to watch. With most scary movies, you can tell when the scary thing will pop out and what it’s going to be, but this story made it more exciting and thrilling for me. I liked the element of surprise, especially because only certain members of the family seemed able to see the entities at first so you never knew when they would show a scary ghost or not. Lastly, with the ending of the movie, I thought it wrapped up well and left me, not only satisfied with the story, but able to go to bed and not worry about what could be hiding in my closet. I would recommend this movie to anyone who can handle scary scenes in the dark. It’s one of the best horror movies I have seen so far, not too scary but good enough so you’re not bored or expecting what’s to come.

-Sabrina C., 10th Grade

Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready

shade_jerismithreadyFrom The Encyclopedia of Shade:

Shift – a remarkable period of time that scientists can’t explain. Every baby, called “post-shifters”, born after this time has been able to see ghosts as a strange, purple hue. It happened almost seventeen years ago.

Red – the color that ghosts can’t take very well. If anyone, including a post-shifter, wears red, the ghost will stay away from them.

BlackBoxed – a new and remarkable invention that allows an entire room to be either free from ghosts or keep ghosts in. This means that if a room is BlackBoxed, ghosts can’t get in or out.

Aura– a young girl of sixteen (almost seventeen) years. There is a huge possibility that she is the first post-shifter, but it is not in solid facts yet. Her mother died from cancer and father is unknown, so her guardian is her mother’s sister, Aunt Gina. With her Aunt Gina, she helps ghosts move on to the Afterlife. After her boyfriend Logan died and she was able to see him as a ghost, she decided to also help him move on and prove to others that he didn’t know what he was doing when he died.

Logan- a ghost who died on his seventeenth birthday. He died because he was drinking, and then took drugs to stay awake and alert, not knowing that a combination of alcohol and drugs could kill him. While he was alive, he was in a band with some of his friends. However, he could become a Shade because of all the hatred he has as a ghost. He is still in love with Aura after he dies.

Zachary– a young Pre-shifter from Scotland. There is a possibility that he is the last Pre-shifter, but it is not certain. He has transferred to Aura’s school after his dad had his work transferred to America. Coincidentally, he is also Aura’s astrology partner, and has the same birth date as her.

Shade– what ghosts can become if they get too angry. They appear as all black hues, and make post-shifters sick. Unlike ghosts, they can go anywhere they want. However, they are always angry, and it is a bitter hell for them. If a ghost turns into a Shade, they cannot turn back, ever. Aura is afraid Logan would turn into one of these.

Overall view- very well written. This book will have readers off the edges of their seats as they solve spectacular mysteries, such as Aura’s father and why the Shift happened. Additionally, the characters were just like one would meet in everyday life and seem to be as real as the person who sits next to them. There is also the idea of suspense, with the readers wondering what will happen next and if the story will be a happily ever after. And when the story does reach its end, the readers will be sad that there isn’t more.

Warning- There is mature content such as drugs, alcohol, etc. Additionally, this book is the first of a trilogy, meaning that readers will be craving for the next book.

-Megan V., 10th grade

Shade is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library.