"The message of the movie was: no one’s gonna help you, little kid…You have to save yourself.”
In the Fear of Sleep* episode of This American Life, production manager Seth Lind tells how he saw Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining on TV when he was six years old — the same age as Danny in the movie — and how it led to two years of nightmares:
Seth: It just made it plausible. I think it was just a really quick decision, like, “I’m that kid” — as simple as that. It’s like, “oh hey look, I’m on the TV. And there’s really really really terrible things happening to me and my family.” And that’s why it got so far under my skin… Also, there were these twin girls, who in the movie are sort of spectral characters that only Danny, the little kid can see…
Ira Glass: And they’re sort of shot like Diane Arbus twins… I love how your Mom’s take on this is that it’s so not deeply sinister, this film.
Seth: [imitating parents] “There was a little girl. Didn’t he have a friend? A playmate?” [laughs] It’s not fair to expect that someone else would have the same relationship as me, feeling like I kind of lived inside of it in a really terrible way for two years…
Seth’s Mother: I guess it just really shows that children have very involved inner lives that their parents might not know much about.
Ira: And why didn’t you ask for help?
Seth: I didn’t think that anyone could help. The message of the movie is: “no one’s gonna help you, little kid…You have to save yourself.”
Ira: Do you think one of the reasons you didn’t ask for help was because it infected your dreams? Do you know what I mean? Like, in a way, it had gotten to a part of you where nobody can go, anyway, but you?
Seth: There’s a certain point where the person who is trying to help you is going to go to sleep. And I would be left alone. Everyone sleeps alone.
*The Fear of Sleep episode is also notable for Mike Birbiglia’s “Sleepwalk with Me” story — so well-told that you will be able to repeat it to your friends verbatim after just one listen.