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The Shining twins explained

Did The Shining Twins creep you out? You're not alone. But there's probably a lot you don't know about horror movie's terrifying twosome

The Shining twins explained

Who are The Shining twins in The Shining? Stanley Kubrik’s adaptation of The Shining is often regarded as one of the best horror movies ever made – and even one of the best movies ever made, period. In 2019, a sequel to The Shining was released with Ewan McGregor as Danny Torrance.

The Shining is adapted from a Stephen King novel of the same name, and despite the overwhelmingly positive consensus on the horror thriller movie, King famously wasn’t a fan. In fact, King disliked the movie so much that he wrote and produced his own TV series adaptation of The Shining in 1997: the less said about that, the better.

One of the spookiest parts of The Shining, which has an almost endless number of spooky moments, is the infamous Grady twins. They’re creepy and iconic in equal measure, but do you want to know more about The Shining twins? Of course you do. Come and play with us, and find out more below.

Who are The Shining twins?

The Shining twins are two ghosts, still in the Overlook Hotel after they were murdered by their father – and Jack’s predecessor – Delbert Grady. They are spotted by Danny on a few occasions, but most notably when young Danny while he is riding his blue and red tricycle through the west wing of the Overlook Hotel.

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On this occasion, the duo-in-blue block his path. They say “Hello Danny, come and play with us”, before chanting “for ever, and ever, and ever.” As The Shining twins are speaking, Danny sees visions of their corpses covered in blood, from when they were murdered by their father. The Shining twins make a brief appearance once again in the sequel to The Shining, Doctor Sleep, which is currently available on streaming service Netflix.

However, get ready for a last minute twist. The Shining twins weren’t even intended to be twins at all. In fact, in the script and in King’s novel, the pair are referred to as the Grady sisters. What’s more, in the dialogue of The Shining itself, it’s explicit that the duo aren’t twins: Stuart Ullman says that the sisters are “eight and ten”.

While the pair aren’t twins in the story, they are played by real-life identical twins. This probably led to the confusion, and regardless of what’s said in the movie and in the book, they are currently known as The Shining twins, and in all likelihood, always will be.

The Shining Twins explained: Jack Nicholson in The Shining

Are The Shining twins evil?

While they might be completely creepy, there’s really nothing to indicate that The Shining twins are evil, per se. It seems that the pair are just the ghosts of two sisters, killed by their father.

The Shining twins don’t do anything threatening to Danny, and while we might perceive them as spooky, they likely don’t realise that themselves and are just two sisters asking another kid to play with them. What’s so scary about that (a lot, actually, to be fair).

Of course, now that The Shining twins are ghosts they could have become a more malevolent, evil presence. But still, the movie does nothing to show that, so let’s give them the benefit of the doubt.

The Shining Twins explained: The Shining Twins in The Shining hallway scene

What do The Shining twins represent?

Children are often used in cinema, and in literature, to represent innocence. However that innocence has been destroyed in The Shining, as the two Grady sisters have been murdered by their father. Given this, and that Danny goes on to be exposed to some truly horrific things, it isn’t a complete reach to say that the ghostly Shining twins represent a loss of innocence.

Of course, with their symmetry and memorable voices, The Shining twins are intended to enhance the sense of disturbing unease, and horror – and they represent this visually. Other than that, Kubrik leaves interpretation of what The Shining twins represent to the audience.

The Shining Twins explained: Danny in The Shining

Who played The Shining twins?

The Shining twins are played by real-life twins Louise Burns and Lisa Burns, who starred in the movie when they were 12 years old. The pair are no longer in the acting business, despite being known worldwide as some of the creepiest onscreen twins in cinema history.

Instead, Huffington Post reports that Louise Burns became a scientist, and she specialises in microbiology. Meanwhile, her sister Lisa Burns, went on to study literature. That’s not so scary, afterall.

If that was a bit too scary, then why not seek out some escapism and check out our guide to the best fantasy movies of all time.