A perfect pair of scares for Halloween

Published 12:29 pm Tuesday, October 24, 2023

This week at the Tryon Theatre we have our October selections for our Tryon Film Society films, two classics of the horror genre that we hope will leave you in an appropriately horrified Halloween spirit. These two fantastically frightening films are “Wait Until Dark” (Young 1967) and “The Shining” (Kubrick 1980). 

The majority of the year, our film selection steers away from films that are outright horror, however, Halloween comes but once a year, and delving into the darker depths of cinema feels only befitting. Unlike the weeks of murder-mystery that preceded this week, these films do not seek to entertain within a comforting framework (like Poirot’s inevitable resolution), but rather operate on the basis of discomfort, of unsettling us, both psychologically and visually. On that visual note however, while both of these films are horrifying, neither contains significant body horror or extended depictions of violence and gore. These films prioritize the psychological above the visceral to great effect. 

“The Shining” is one of director Stanley Kubrick’s most popular films, and most popularly referenced films of all time across both film and television in the years following its release. “The Shining” is an adaptation of an identically titled novel by Stephen King. And while both works are phenomenal at evoking fear, they are quite different in their overall structure and themes, sharing mostly the formal components of locations and names. The film version follows Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson), and his family, wife Wendy (Shelley Duval) and son Danny, as they take up residence at the remote Overlook Hotel, where Jack has been hired as its off-season caretaker. Jack embraces this isolation as a way to focus on his writing and hopefully avoid a relapse in his drinking. Wendy sees an opportunity to repair a relationship damaged from alcoholism, and hopefully provide some ease for their troubled child Danny, a boy plagued by waking nightmares and potentially psychic visions. However, as their stay drags on, Jack’s sanity begins to slowly unravel, to devastating ends. 

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“Wait Until Dark” is similarly an adaptation to the screen, based on a play of the same name, written by Frederick Knott. This film adapts the play very closely, with the small and contained location of the film’s plot providing for easy translation from stage to screen. “Wait Until Dark” follows its main character, Susy (Audrey Hepburn), as she is set upon by a violent gang in her own home. Susy’s husband accidentally brings home a doll from a business trip that was secretly being used to ferry drugs and soon after dangerous men come looking for their precious product. This terrifying situation is amplified by Susy’s functional blindness, and her ignorance as to why these assailants are at her door. 

These films will follow our typical Film Society week breakdown of three showtimes a piece for each film. “The Shining” will show Wednesday and Saturday evenings with a  Thursday matinee, and “Wait Until Dark” will show Thursday and Friday evenings with a Sunday matinee. We will not have a film on Tuesday, October 31 for the actual holiday. However, we will be participating in the Town of Tryon Halloween stroll (4 p.m. – 6 p.m.) with a lighted marquee and small bags of popcorn to hand out to the trick-or-treaters (the interior of the theater will not be open).

We hope you will join us in chasing chills and thrills from one or both of these horror classics!