Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Portrait of a Badass: The Grady Girls

Characters: The Grady girls
Actors: Lisa Burns & Louise Burns
Film: The Shining (1980)
Badass Moment: The nice little girls invite Danny to play with them forever and ever.

The appearance of these two unremarkable (yet somehow dreadful) kids in Stanley Kubrick's celebrated adaptation of the Stephen King cabin fever novel ranks high among the most haunting cinematic images in history. The closet shot in The Ring, the janitor in Silent Hill, and the bathroom mirror scene in Poltergeist have all their shot at the championship, but the Grady girls (often mistakenly called the Grady twins) continue to defend their title against all comers.

The great thing about The Shining is that it wasn't so scary the first time I saw it, because the film hadn't yet taught me to be afraid of it. The second time I watched it, the dread of seeing the Grady girls again sprung out of nowhere just a second or two before their first appearance. That dread is a powerful thing; it's so strong that one of my friends from university used to "watch" the whole film with her face covered because she didn't want to be ambushed by the girls' surprise attacks.

Regardless of what viewers of The Shining think of these spooky little girls, the Grady siblings' impact on the other characters in the film is incontrovertibly devastating. Just look what they did to our poor, little protagonist Danny Torrence:

That kid's shit is in ruins. But that's only the beginning of it. Danny's trauma causes a chain reaction that reverberates through the film's entire cast. Look at these poor saps.

Grady girls, you are badasses, even if you did have to be "corrected." We salute you.

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