In Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” adaptation, troubled writer Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) and his family move into the isolated Overlook Hotel as its winter caretakers. Jack is driven progressively, murderously insane by the evil hotel in its quest to entrap Jack’s psychic son Danny (as it has time and again used occupants and trapped souls in its history). At the film’s end, Jack chases Danny into a snowy hedge maze before getting lost and freezing to death in the sub-zero weather. The final shot situates the audience back in the hotel as the camera slowly, methodically pushes in on a wall of photos in the hotel’s infamous Gold Room. “Midnight, the Stars, and You” begins to play as the camera glides forward through a door frame, centering on a picture of the hotel’s 1921 July 4th Ball with Jack Torrance standing front and center, sporting an unhinged wave and smile.
Bong Joon-ho’s film “Snowpiercer” follows the titular train as the last bastion of humanity on an apocalyptically sub-sub-zero Earth, forever circling the globe and keeping the remnants of humanity alive on an inhospitable planet. The train’s rigid class structure, between the upper class at the train’s head versus the working class spread throughout its tail, provokes an uprising of the lower classes, lead by Curtis (Chris Evans) and viciously opposed by the train’s powers-that-be. One of the latter’s major enforcers, Franco the Elder (Vlad Ivanov), chases Curtis into and through a sauna car. He knocks Curtis out in the scuffle, kills two of Curtis’ working-class soldiers, and a battle-crazed Franco looks over his fallen victims and the train’s deceased soldiers as “Midnight, The Stars and You” begins to slowly play. He checks the rest of the sauna, while Curtis’ ally Namgoong (Kang-ho Sang) and the latter’s daughter Yona (Ah-sung Ko) surprise Franco, allowing Curtis to finally get the drop on the nigh-unbeatable thug. Before dying, his final expression turns to a murderous, unhinged grin as the track plays over the gruesome scene.
It’s a small, subtle tribute over a scene revealing the final fate of a protagonist-hunting villain in service to an oppressive structure (though, of course, Snowpiercer isn’t the sentient, evil, haunted location that The Overlook is), and it’s a lovely nod from one world-class filmmaker to the legacy of another.