Not surprisingly, many horror movie villains suffer from serious mental illness, mental disorder, or physical ailments that can cause them to behave strangely. Become monsters who commit atrocities against innocent victims, stalking, murdering, raping, molesting and bullying their prey.
Sometimes a vicious cycle of torture, misery, insanity and criminality is created in which the victim becomes the victim of other victims who are often just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Their actions are so horrific that some people confuse their actions with demons, immortal goblins, mutants, ghosts, or demons themselves.
Although these films often allow supernatural and natural possibilities to explain the description of events, medical science usually allows for only one cause, although the cause, mental illness, applies to the villains and victims of films like Stephen King’s enormous, which take many forms to carry out, all horrifying and terrifying.
Was Jack Torrance a paranoid schizophrenic? In both the Stephen King 1997 novel The Shining and its 1980 movie adaptation by Stanley Kubrick, Torrance, the caretaker of the Overlook Hotel, is isolated; creative, delusional, and suffers from hallucinations, believing himself to be the target of malign influences, including demons and ghosts, and begins to experience hallucinations “with all five [of his] senses.”
Had Wendy sought psychiatric help for her husband, rather than denying that he had a problem, there is a good chance, perhaps, that he could have been helped by a combination of drug treatment, psychological therapy, and bibliotherapy.
Of course, Wendy herself and the couple’s son Danny are as much victims as Torrance. An alcoholic with a bad temper, Torrance acci-dentally breaks Danny’s arm when the boy pours beer over his fa-ther’s manuscript. Torrance may drink to repress “his awareness of failing as a father [which] is concomitant with feelings of shame, guilt, self-hatred and suicidal thoughts,” having learned from his own father to use alcohol and violence to cope with the vicissitudes of life.
The results of the trauma that Danny experiences in The Shining are explored in Dr. Sleep, King’s 2013 sequel to the earlier book. Dan-ny, in a sense, has become his father: the son is now an alcoholic and a drifter; after a one-night stand, he steals the last money his lover has, despite his awareness that she might need it to feed her child. His life “epitomizes emptiness and instability: he moves from city to city, lives day by day, has no stable place of living. He has no attachment, no relation to others.” In short, as a result of his experi-ences, both at the Overlook Hotel and since, Danny suffers from PTSD.