How A Korean Horror Movie Tried To Copy The Shining (& Failed)


Shudder’s latest Korean horror movie Lingering took influence from Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, but its efforts ultimately paled in comparison.

One of Shudder’s 2020 releases, the Korean horror movie Lingering attempted to copy Stanley Kubrick’s iconic The Shining movie in several ways, but was largely unsuccessful in its efforts. Kubrick’s movie adaptation of Stephen King’s novel of the same name is often regarded as one of the best horror movies of all time. Therefore, it is often difficult for others with comparable storylines to live up to expectations. Lingering falls under the category of movies that have ultimately failed to successfully copy The Shining’s supernatural horrors.

Lingering follows Yoo-mi (Se-young Lee) as she ventures to a hotel with her younger sister in hopes of finding her late mother’s friend. She intends on leaving her sister with this woman so she no longer has to care for her. As the movie progresses, the sinister ghosts of the hotel begin to manifest around Yoo-mi, and her mother’s torment starts to resurface in the form of traumatic flashbacks. Recently, streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon, and Shudder have added a wealth of foreign horror movies to their lineup. They have been largely successful, especially the Korean zombie horror movie #Alive, which reflects the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in the form of a viral apocalypse. Korean directors are largely celebrated in 2020 for their works that reinvent a specific sub-genre. For instance, Train To Busan and its sequel, Train To Busan 2: Peninsula, have garnered largely positive reviews for their outstanding talents in crafting a zombie story, with children playing a major role in creating an overwhelming amount of tension.

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Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining wasn’t the first movie to introduce the concept of a haunted hotel, but it set a precedent for how powerful such a place could be in the paranormal horror sub-genre. Some directors have transformed it into a post-apocalyptic setting, such as in the movie Cadaver, but it’s still largely used to capture the ghosts that hide behind unsuspecting doors of those who stayed before and never left. In Lingering, the director utilizes similar tropes that are deployed in Kubrick’s movie, but many didn’t succeed.

Why Lingering’s Haunting Didn’t Work

Feature Lingering 2020

Lingering’s haunting was ineffective due to the fact that it relied on too many factors in order to create the ghosts. While it utilized the past as a form to manifest the hotel’s spirits, similarly to The Shining, it was far too reliant on their characters, and did not have a fluid transition from reality to the supernatural. When Yoo-mi sees her mother before arriving at the hotel, it’s assumed that her spirit will follow her, but it is relatively unclear if she is the spirit wandering the halls. This is largely due to the infrequencies of her scares and the bizarre pattern of when and to whom she appears.

Many modern Korean paranormal horror movies commonly focus on a family and their unique dynamics. The 2020 Shudder exclusive Metamorphosis perfectly captured how demons and spirits can break a family apart. It is a very common trope to use in the confines of a paranormal storyline, but Lingering’s use of it failed entirely. The dynamic between the two sisters is entirely unbelievable and confusing, to say the least. While it tries to make the relationship with Yoo-mi and her mother the focal point, it deters from this several times. In turn, it causes this slow-burn movie to become one filled with plot holes, inexplicable storylines, and a hotel with a haunting that doesn’t make much sense. Lingering features workers of the building being tormented by a ghost, but the twist at the end alludes to the spirit being a figment of Yoo-mi’s imagination that only surfaced because of past trauma.

Lingering’s Use Of The Shining’s Tropes Fell Flat

Lingering uses three primary tropes from The Shining: a haunted hotel, strange spirits, and a dysfunctional family dynamic. While it had the potential to create an unforgettable story about the trauma that arises when people revisit spaces and locations that were harmful to them, it ultimately didn’t work because of its reliance on maintaining Kubrick’s original use of these tropes. Their depiction of Yoo-mi and her familial relationships aren’t necessarily bad, but they are not good, either.

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While it’s common for paranormal horror movies to begin slowly in order to build anticipation for what’s to come, they normally pick up speed after the main source of the dysfunction is introduced. Kubrick’s movie successfully does this, but Lingering does not. It remains slow-burning from the beginning to the very end when its major twist is revealed. The Shining’s influence on the movie appears in instances where hotel rooms are used, yet these rooms are filled with jump-scares rather than nuanced spirits that reflect the weaknesses or fears of each character. In that regard, it was a missed opportunity to deepen the story and add depth to the characters.

Why Lingering’s The Shining Inspired Story Failed

Feature Lingering 2020

Ultimately, Lingering’s use of The Shining’s tropes and influences didn’t work due to an inability to capture a similar essence that Kubrick was able to create 40 years ago. When the movie first released, it created an atmosphere that elevated a spiritual haunting to a more personal one. While these movies on personal ghosts haunting the living do exist and can be largely success, Lingering’s reliance on Kubrick’s took what could’ve been a unique story about a young woman grappling with the death of her mother into one that reaches to hard to be something it is not.

Lingering‘s filmmakers had the right idea when taking inspiration from The Shining, as many paranormal horror movies do, but its overly confusing storyline, perplexing spirits, and plot holes resulted in a failed attempt to copy the undisputed classic. Each character in Lingering represents one of the Torrance family members, but they are a diluted and poorly captured version. Even a scene that mirrors the infamous bloody elevator is underwhelming, and far more confusing than it is disturbing or unsettling. Korean horror movies have statistically been some of the most successful releases in 2020, but this one in particular showcased how high the standards are for these movies and how they can fail when they rely on other flicks to craft their settings, characters, spirits, and conflicts. Every trope Lingering took from The Shining and utilized in its own paranormal horror story about the haunting of a family in a hotel setting came close to hitting the mark that was set by Stanley Kubrick in 1980 but missed it by a mile when it came to its delivery.

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Updated: December 7, 2020 — 1:30 am

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