The Shining Reviews
Outstanding performances by Jack Nicholson and the rest of a top notch cast add to the eerie premise created by
Kubrick's use of lighting,colors, foreshadowing, music, and attention to the slightest details. This film is by all means "A masterpiece of modern horror."
The most beautiful horror film I've seen.
Since there are no real set rules for the psychological thriller or the haunted building genres, the sky is the limit. That is especially true since this movie is a marriage of the two. It has a slow hypnotic pace that makes you very uneasy, and the fact that it takes a while for things to get cookin' only makes the pay off that much better and unnerving.
When I first saw this, it terrified me. I had a hard time getting through the last oh, 30 minutes or so. As I kept forcing myself to watch it time and time again though, I began to realize the brilliance of things, especially once I learned who Kubrick was, and what he's all about.
This movie definitely has Stanley's touch, and there's no mistaking that this is one of his movies, and not someone else's. The look is great, the direction is superb, the camera work and other things that contribute to the mood and atmosphere are executed nicely, and the performances are unforgettable. Honestly, as much as I love Jack, I kind of think that King was right to state that Nicholson seemed too obvious a choice, and that his descent into madness is not as surprising as a result. That may be true, but can you really picture anyone else in the role?
This is one of those movies you could analyze endlessly, and many people actually have. Sometimes movies don't necessarily warrant that kind of attention, and at other times, some movies are purposely made that way (and in a frustrating way too.....*cough* David Lynch's films *cough* With this movie though, it's cool. You can take it at face value, or you can ponder over it for the rest of your life, but it won't seem pointless.
This is a surreal and horrifying classic. Don't miss it.
And looking at the film again, its truly one of the finest pieces of cinema. For pete's sake, the architecture of the hotel was geometrically incorrect just to bring in a creepy mood! Its the best acting performance from any female by far!
Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) is a novelist who agrees to become the caretaker of the secluded 'Overlook Hotel' during the winter to work on his new book. To keep him company, Jack takes his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and son Danny (Danny Lloyd) along with him. However, the hotel has a history of gruesome murders taking place at the hands of the previous caretaker. Not before long, evil and spiritual presences influence the behaviour of an increasingly unstable Jack, while Danny begins to experience prophetic visions.
What can really be said about the The Shining that hasn't been said already? Quite simply, it's a classic. I could just leave it at that and move along to something else but I'll shed a little light on why it can be - and predominantly is - regarded as such. First off, for any horror to achieve it's full potential, it's essential that it gets the mood right and this can certainly claim to have that. There is a foreboding feeling of dread that permeates almost every scene. Kubrick's approach is to linger long on shots and seemingly empty spaces. I don't think I've ever witnessed a horror where looking at static furniture in a hallway - waiting for something to happen - has ever been more creepy. That something rarely ever does happen but it's Kubrick's use of lavish sets, designed in the most meticulous detail, that's visual arresting. He uses vast, well lit, rooms and corridors yet creates a smothering feeling of darkness and claustrophobia. The power of the setting itself can often be overlooked as to how horrifying it really is, as most of the horror comes in the form of a maniacal Jack Nicholson; his decent into murderous madness is one of his finest and most iconic performances. There's not many actors that can channel a character so demented and unbalanced yet remain, very much, a pleasure to watch - even root for. My biggest issue with the film would be Shelley Duvall; I've never really been a fan of hers and despite putting in a good show here, she's too irritating and hysterical - leaving you with the feeling that maybe Jack should just 'bash her brains in'. That being said, the relationship between the two add a curious nature to story. On the surface it would seem that's it's a decent into madness from Torrance but there's ambiguity involved. Could it possibly be the vulnerability of Wendy and her unresolved past issues with her husband's physical abuse of their child, manifesting in her own decent? Does she even exist, or is she a figment of Torrance's imagination? Or is it vice-verse? It's this very ambiguity that raises the film above a conventional horror story and Kubrick only teases the audience with the details, never fully revealing them and leaving it open to argument. It's also benefits from a deliberate pace and some sublime camerawork by John Alcott, not to mention a dynamic, sledgehammer of a score that leaves you shaken and overwhelmed.
This is how unrelenting terror should be delivered; slowly assuredly and with consummate skill in maintaing it's eerie atmosphere. Kubrick delivers one of his finest pieces of work here and Nicholson follows suit. Let this be a lesson to all.
"The Horror is driving him crazy."
There is absolutely no horror film like The Shining. I've seen it described as an epic horror film, and that's pretty much true. It's probably the only epic horror film ever made. If anyone was going to make a scary movie epic, it was Kubrick. He throws conventional horror wisdom out the window, and does things his own way. Can you blame him for wanting to throw his own spin on King's novel? It's a known fact that King hates Kubrick's take on his classic book. Here's the thing though, Kubrick's ideas are better, smarter, and scarier. He wanted to do shit that hadn't been done. I like King books, but let's be honest; a lot of his works are basically the same thing, just thrown into a different setting and with a different monster. There's a reason this is the best King adaption ever and that is that Kubrick changed things.
When describing the plot I'm only going to speak of the surface narrative, but it should be noted that there is much more going on then just this storyline. Jack Torrence, his wife, and son move into the Overlook Hotel where they will live for the winter. Jack has been hired as the caretaker there. He is warned about a tragedy that happened there years ago and also about how people can go crazy from the isolation. He isn't worried though because isolation is just what he needs. He is trying to write a new book and peace and quiet is what he wants. His son, Danny, has an imaginary friend who is showing him bad things at the hotel. Soon Jack goes crazy and starts tormenting his family, while he sees visions.
The hardest thing about comprehending this movie is deciphering what is real and what is not. Obviously, everyone knows that when Jack is talking to Lloyd and Grady, that he is really speaking to himself in mirrors. But what about when he yells at his wife while he's writing? I for one think that is in Jack's head. It should be known that what Jack is writing about is something that has to do with the murders there. He has newspaper clippings and tells Grady that he read about him in the paper. So I believe a lot of what is going on is him trying to get into the character of Grady for his writing. In the scene where he yells at his wife, as she walks in, he tears out a piece of paper from his typewriter. When she leaves at the end, the piece of paper is still in the typewriter. He never tore that paper up because his wife never came in the room. He was playing out events for his book in his head. Some would just say this is a continuation error, and with lesser directors, I would agree. But this is Stanley "fucking" Kubrick. He doesn't make errors like that. Everything he is doing has a reason.
I had mentioned that there are different layers to this movie. While on top it's a horror film, beneath it Kubrick is making statements about the foundation of America. How the Europeans came over and slaughtered the Natives. He isn't doing this by dialogue, but by symbols. And there are many more symbols throughout the movie that will probably go unnoticed by many . My favorite is the use of Frosted Flakes as Tony. At different points of the movie you can see a box of Frosted Flakes sitting behind the action. It isn't put there in an out of place sort of way. Look at the kitchen scenes, such as when Jack gets locked in the food pantry by his wife. When we see her outside of the door, there is a box of Frosted Flakes sitting behind her on a table. Don't try to tell me this wasn't on purpose. It's known that Kubrick would try to find different products to use as symbols in many of his movies. Here, it was Tony the Tiger, to show that Tony is always watching.
The Shining is a horror film that is so much bigger and grander in scale than any one that came before or after it. Everything from how Kubrick shoots scenes to the setting to the symbolism is used in the creepiest ways possible. This is my favorite horror film ever, my favorite Kubrick film, and also one of my favorite movies period. I could watch it a million times and never get bored. There's so much to take away from it, that it pretty much requires multiple viewings if you want to understand it fully. If not, watch it once and you'll still get a worthwhile and terrifying experience from it.
Wendy Torrance: I'm gonna go now.
Jack Torrance: Wendy?
Wendy Torrance: I'm gonna try and get Danny down to Sidewinder in the Snow Cat. I'll send back a doctor...
Jack Torrance: Wendy?
Wendy Torrance: Yes?
Jack Torrance: You got a biiiig surprise coming to you. You're not going anywhere. Go check out the Snow Cat and the radio and you'll see what I mean. Go check it out.
After all these years, "The Shinning" continues to amaze me. When we usually look back at movies from the 80s or 90s, we remember how the film industry has improved since then. Sometimes we re-watch a film and forget how good a film really is. "The Shinning" is no exception.
Jack Torrance (Jack Nicolson) is a writer who is unable to bring his career to a high point with his work. In order to get some peace and quiet, he decides to become the caretaker of a hotel located in the mountains. His brings his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and Danny (Danny Lloyd) to live there from the end of October to May 1st. Unfortunately for the family, Jack becomes mad and starts to act violent towards his family. The owner tells Jack of what happened a couple of years before about a person going mad and killing his family and committing suicide. The owner calls it cabin fever but Jack doesn't feel nervous about the idea. Well, it happens to Jack and uses an axe to do most of his dirty work and creates a famous line, "Heeeeeeeeeeeeeere's Johnny!" in the process.
The film is adapted from Stephen King's bestselling novel of the same name. While I haven't read the novel, I have read that the film sort of deviates from the book which could be a good or bad thing depending on your point of view. The film does have a horror aspect to it. There are some frightening moments in this film. The film really isn't that graphic but more creepy than anything else. While blood is spilled in this movie, director Stanley Kubrick focuses on the scares and chilly atmosphere (no pun intended) to grip the audience.
For the most part the film works brilliantly with the creepy atmosphere, especially in the second act of the film where Jack starts to go completely insane. Jack Nicholson is absolutely fantastic in this film. He is dark, creepy, disturbing, angry and sometimes funny. His acting truly shines in the final half hour of the film and his laughter is so eerie that it actually sticks with you. Nicholson is absolutely brilliant in this film and is one of the main reasons to see this film.
Shelley Duvall, on the other hand, is atrocious as Wendy. Everything is wrong with her in this film from acting to actually how she looks. I read up on this that Stanley Kubrick was having trouble with Ms. Duvall because she wasn't being scared enough when they were filming the film. Sorry to say, but the film really shows horrible acting from Ms. Duvall. When she is scared, it's horrible acting and even when she generally talks she isn't good at all. She was the worst part of the film honestly. Sometimes I wish Wendy got hers in the end but it wasn't made to be . . . oh well.
Even where "The Shinning" falls, it is forgiven by great direction, excellent writing and an unbelievable performance by Jack Nicholson. "The Shinning" is one of my favorite movies and one of my favorite horror films - "Silence of the Lambs" might be my favorite and "The Shinning" second. If you haven't seen this film, go and see it. There isn't the gore crap we have nowadays but a suspenseful and scary horror film with an excellent performance by Jack Nicholson.