Fan Theory Friday: Was Jack the Real Caretaker of The Overlook?

By  · Published on January 20th, 2017

Or was his psychosis rooted in something more common, like writer’s block?

Welcome to Fan Theory Friday, where I scour the internet to find some of the kookiest, craziest, far-fetched, far-flung, and wildest fan theories out there about your favorite movies and share them for your amusement and pondering. Up first? What if Jack Torrance isn’t really the caretaker of The Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining?

We all know the basic story of The Shining: a writer down on his luck takes a job as a winter caretaker at a grandiose hotel in the mountains of Colorado that closes for the season; he brings his wife and son along, looking to heal the rifts he’s caused between them, but over time the writer’s percolating mental illness, creative frustrations, extreme isolation, and supernatural forces cause him to flip his lid and try to murder his family. But suppose just for a moment that none of these things led to Jack’s psychosis, but rather he induced it himself by slipping too far mentally into the horror novel he’s writing based on the story of Charles Grady, a former caretaker of The Overlook who murdered his family?

The theory comes from YouTuber Marten GO, and in a nutshell, though not to spoil the whole video, it goes like this: there are two Jack Torrances in The Shining: the one at the beginning of the film, and the one in the burgundy jacket who terrorizes his family through the film’s second and third acts. Just suppose that this latter Jack isn’t real – physically he is, but not mentally – he’s a character Jack created for his novel who’s an amalgamation of himself and Grady into whose mindset the real Jack slips in order to live out his novel and discover it’s ending – which turns out to be double murder.

It might sound flimsy at the start, but that’s because I’ve left out all the supporting evidence from the film that Marten GO has collected in his video. So check it out, and if you’re further intrigued or dubious at its end, read some of the comments on YouTube for further insight.

And remember, it’s just a theory; half the fun is finding out where it holds water and where it doesn’t.

By the way, if you guys know of any great fan theories out there, make mention of it or tag a link in the comments, or just send it over on Twitter and I’ll give it a look.

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