The Overlook Wall Rugs



There’s five wall rugs that appear throughout the hotel, four of which are seen in the lobby (among other zones), and one of which is only ever seen in the bloodfall hall. There are also funny behaviours in the floor rugs, but I cover those in the absurdities section.


The two most feature fliers are what I call the bloodrug and the waverug. These names might seem obvious, but just in case not, the bloodrug is the bloodrug because it features a recurring double helix shape, like a DNA chain. And the waverug is the waverug because its design is recurring, zig-zig V shapes, like waves. You can even think of the double helix as being like a series of Vs that mirror themselves. Therefore I tend to see the bloodrug as representing the film’s obsession with symmetry (mirrors, etc.) and the waverug as representing the film’s obsession with repeating patterns (twins, etc.).

As if to underscore this point, the blood and waverugs are only seen next to the spot where photo Jack will hang…once photo Jack is hanging there. The entire time before that, what hangs in their place are two identical mirrors, roughly the same size and scale as the rugs.

And I’m sure you’re aware that a “blood” “wave” is another good way of describing what Wendy sees behind the Gold Room, and what Danny sees three times in visions.

Curiously, the bloodrug doesn’t appear in the bloodfall hall. Where it does appear is in the antechamber between the Gold Room ballroom and the Gold Room bathroom. In fact, it’s thanks to seeing this rug in the bathroom mirrors that we know this corner turns impossibly back into the same space that Jack and Grady just came from.

And the reason we know that the bloodfall hall is close to the Gold Room is because as Wendy runs up to discover it she passes Gold Room tables and chairs stored away, and the hall has the same red-and-white refurbished Frank Lloyd Wright style that the Gold Room bathroom has.

So I guess I’m wondering if the implication is that the Gold Room’s bloodrug would be at roughly the same distance along the Gold Room’s west wall, as the waverug appears down the bloodfall hall. Is Grady taking Jack through a kind of magical portal that crosses into the bloodfall hall’s space? Are they, perhaps, even passing through the bloodfall elevators themselves?

The last place the bloodrug is seen is just to the north of what I call the hotel’s 2nd entrance: the entryway that Wendy uses to get to the snowcat, and that Jack uses to start chasing Danny into the maze.

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What’s cool about that, in relation to the last point, is that, as Jack and Wendy make this curve, they reveal that the waverug is just to the right of the 2nd entrance doors. And though we never get a look back into the hotel through these doors, what would be right behind Jack and Wendy as they stop at the entrance? A set of elevators, right?

Well, only for the splittest of split-seconds at the start of Jack’s stalk through the passage do we see that Hugh Monahan’s December Afternoon hangs to the left of these elevators. And what hangs just to the left of the bloodfall?

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Yep. December Afternoon.

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So is this final bloodrug/waverug combo softly recreating the dynamic between them in the Gold Room/bloodfall halls? Seems likely to me, I must say, since these are the only three locations both rugs appear. The path to the Gold Room, inside the Gold Room region, and at the 2nd entrance, which vaguely copies the bloodfall hall.

As for the other three rugs, they all only appear in the one place, and since we’re on the subject of the bloodfall…


The rainbowrug is first seen in Danny’s second vision of the bloodfall, when Jack is freaking out at Wendy over her reaction to his 237 story. It’s not seen in either of his other visions. Then, when Wendy comes upon the hall, it’s seen having jumped sides, from what I’m guessing is the hall’s east side to its west side. It also flips upside down as it changes sides, with the yellowish blotch at the bottom for Danny and at the top for Wendy.

My sense about this rug is that it’s meant to evoke the Noah’s Ark aspect of the bloodfall and the 12 labours of Herakles aspect. In the Herakles story, Herakles is informed about his godly status by Hera’s messenger Iris, causing him to murder his family. Iris was considered, among other things, a goddess of rainbows. In the Noah’s Ark myth, a rainbow is part of how Noah and family were to know that the 40 days and nights of flooding were over. So perhaps Danny’s rainbowrug is about the Herakles aspect, since his are combined with flashes of the twins, himself screaming in the dark, and REDRUM. And Wendy’s is inverted to bring the Noah’s Ark aspect to mind, since her four ghostly encounters at the end seem to bear a connection to the four horsemen of the apocalypse, wherein the bloodfall is symbolic of Death, the ultimate horseman.

And if you’re quibbling with my calling it a rainbow rug when all it does is repeat a sequence of primary/secondary colours…what would you call it? Feel free to let me know.


Only seen once, and only in full at the moment when the only three paintings that repeat between the bloodfall hall and the lobby hall (Red Maple, Mist Fantasy and Beaver Swamp) are onscreen, with the mazerug, our final rug, between them. I call it the lightning rug because of the ten little zig-zag shapes in the red box below.

We discover, through repeated study of the film, that Danny is hiding behind the doors Jack’s passing here. And this is all happening on the film’s final Thursday. A day named for the Norse god Thor, who was the god of lightning. Thor was also interchangeable for early Germans with the Roman god Hercules, so it’s thought that many 2nd and 3rd century references to the Roman god were intended as references to Thor.

In my Pillars of Hercules analysis, the bloodfall elevators are seen as a symbolic representation of Herc creating the pillars, causing a massive flood, and killing his wife and children. So perhaps what this lightning-styled rug is doing is drawing our attention to the Nordic implications at the heart of the bloodfall hall, which the lobby back hall strongly resembles in this moment.

Also, if you were to burrow a hole straight through the wall behind the lightningrug, you would come out right at the Maligne Lake painting, which features Samson Peak, Samson being the bible’s evolution of the Hercules myth.


I started thinking of this as the mazerug when I noticed that the corridors that form between its diamonds take on this left-right pattern as they zig and zag. And isn’t it lefts and rights that save Danny in the maze? Though, yeah, it is right around the corner from the model maze, and as a result is seen in conjunction with it six times (or seven, if you count the skeleton ball, where it’s too dark to actually make out the mazerug, so I’m not sure I would count it).

What’s more, the rug is made up of two half-diamonds vertically, three half-diamonds horizontally, and seven whole diamonds in the middle. 237. And isn’t it in room 237 that Danny acquires his final key for how to elude Jack in the maze?

So it’s interesting that Danny, who is arguably the most affected by his journey through that fateful room, is the only major character never to be seen in conjunction with this evil rug. And the rug is seen in 13 or 14 shots, depending on how you count that skeleton ball darkness. Oh, actually, 14 is the number associated with room 237 in the Treachery of Images analysis, so maybe that skeleton ball one does count.

Here’s the four shots of Hallorann going down in its shadow. Of particular note is that face Jack’s making during the murder. He’s like some kind of gargoyle mask.

Also, the bloodfall hall is actually the hall behind the lobby redressed for this one scene (or vice versa), which means that where the mazerug appears before is where the rainbowrug appears at the end.

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The last odd phenomenon to mention about its appearances involves this piece of bog oak that’s been leaning against it (touching its centre diamond), throughout the entire movie, which disappears between the shot of Wendy’s approach and the two shots of her witnessing Hallorann’s corpse.

It disappears at the same time as AY Jackson’s Red Maple disappears from the wall beside it.

And this isn’t the only piece of bog oak that mysteriously vanishes. The giant flame-shaped one in the Colorado lounge vanishes between the scene of Jack throwing his tennis ball and his first day of All Work typing.

And this one vanishes against a staircase with two flights of 23 stairs and 7 stairs.

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A design that is repeated in the aerial shot of the labyrinth.

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I don’t want to reproduce my entire analysis of 237’s significance here, but what it boils down to is the roles that curiosity and trauma play in creating the urge to quest for the tomb, or to return to the womb. Once you grasp how many 237s are flowing through basically every moment of the film, you really see how desperately, how obsessively the hotel wanted what it got Jack and Danny to do. The fact that it appears within the design of the mazerug speaks, I think, to the necessity for Danny to have entered the room in order to both create and survive the situation that unfurled.

My general analysis of the bog oak vanishments is that they represent the hotel’s success in achieving its war aims: the first one vanishes because it’s finally got Jack typing All Work papers, which means it’s finally in control of his mind, or if you like, the death of the old Jack has begun. And the second one vanishes because it’s gloating at Wendy that the death of Hallorann is complete. Bog oak is wood that’s been fossilized by bog conditions, such that some cases can be thousands of years old. In other words, the pieces in the film could go back to Greco-Roman days. So on the one hand, their vanishment represents the way the hotel cuts off Jack and Wendy from their sense of time and place. And on the other hand, they speak to this general loss of connection to history itself, which is something all the wall rugs seem to have in common. A connection to some vague aspect of our deep past.

Blood. Wave. Rainbow. Lightning. Maze.

Christian myth, Greco-Roman myth, Norse myth.

And speaking of the Norse, one last thing: Thor was considered the god of oak, so perhaps this is the connection between the two wall rugs only ever seen within the lobby.

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