The Shining Reviews

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Super Reviewer
January 6, 2015
Jack Nicholson's performance alone defines this frightening motion picture. Stanley Kubrick's The Shining may stray away from the Stephen King novel, but the film's disturbing tone and psychological barrage is memorable and, to this day, is held up as one of the most outstanding horror films ever made. 4/5
Super Reviewer
November 18, 2007
Stanley Kubrick's brilliant adaptation of Stephen King's novel about a frustrated writer forced to take the job as caretaker at a remote hotel consumed with evil.
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."
Super Reviewer
½ November 15, 2006
A writer and his family move in as caretakers to a secluded mountainside hotel for the winter, but a presence inhabiting it causes his mental disintegration leading to the urge for bloody murder. I'm not a fan of Stephen King. In fact, I'd go as far as to describe him as "a bag of cock". But what Kubrick did was to strip away the hokey nonsense of King's original novel and create a master class in haunting imagery and suspense. In fact, the supernatural elements of the story are almost irrelevant. The horror lies in the subtext of domestic violence; it's difficult to see a plaid wearing, balding middle-aged man as a terrifying monster, and Nicholson is hardly the most physically formidable presence. But in the classic scene in which he finally snaps, it is easy to see why waif-like Shelly Duvall (or anyone like her) would be incredibly intimidated. Without resorting to unnecessary gore Kubrick's visuals are disturbingly intense and complimented by one of the eeriest soundtracks ever written, the sense of unease is as creepy and atmospheric as any created. Far from being dated, compared to what passes for "horror" these days The Shining has actually improved with age. Another example of Kubrick being Jack of all trades and master of all.
Super Reviewer
March 28, 2013
'The Shining'. The camera movement, the score, the sound design, the production design and Jack Nicholson all contribute to a deep unease. You feel the uncertainty throughout the metaphorical and literal mazes the characters traverse.

The most beautiful horror film I've seen.
Super Reviewer
February 28, 2013
The Shining can sometimes seem silly by today's standards, but it is still a very unsettling and chiling psychological horror film.
Super Reviewer
December 13, 2008
A film that transcends its genre, leaves itself open to interpretation and deep analysis from both film historians and the viewing public throughout the years, and is a cinematic classic as well as a horror classic; "The Shining" is the seminal best. Based upon the novel by famed horror author Stephen King, this adaptation takes liberties from the book, which led to King leaving the set and creating his own miniseries in 1997. This version takes liberties with the motivations behind the lead character, some of the plot, and some of the less horrible of the ghosts and monsters. Set in the Overlook Hotel, writer and alcoholic family man Jack Torrance is broke and trying to get sober for the sake of his young son and waifish wife, Wendy. The family sets up shop in the hotel as caretakers while the rest of the employees and residents are gone, snow covering the road twenty inches high, trapping them inside. The film, like the book, is a morphing of psychological thriller and ghost story, as the motivations of the characters become skewed along the way. The hotel is haunted by many specters, including the last caretaker's bludgeoned young daughters, axed in the upstairs' hallway, hallucinations of twenties' parties in the ballroom including butler Grady, and a sickly, skin peeling woman in the upstairs bathroom. Those elements are of course horrific, contrasted by Torrance's son, Danny, who is psychic, possessing an ability called the shining. His visions and distorted facial expressions make you squirm in your seat, as you wonder how this child wasn't frightened by his own performance. (Kubrick shot the scenes so the child in question didn't know he was in a horror film.) Though Danny's psychic visions of the future and the ghosts themselves are bloody and gruesome, they are nothing compared to the psychological workings of Jack's mind. King rallied hard against the casting of Nicolson in the part of Torrance, because Torrance goes through a psychological breakdown. Nicolson had already shown his abilities in the Oscar winning "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" several years before, and quite obviously has a look of lunacy to him: his arched brows, that crooked grin, his sneaking look of pained horror. He exemplifies creepy, and the moments leading up to his breakdown, especially the scene between him and his son on the bed, proved to be overwhelming and absolutely dripping with creepiness. His attitudes, his method of yelling out animalistic words as he runs after his family comes off as downright manic. Though you can see it coming from a mile away, it is still one of the most lauded and quoted performances of all time. The casting of Shelley Duvall seems strange when looking to the book, because the character is so strong and effectual against the tyranny of her husband, his alcoholism, and his paranoia. In reality, the character of Wendy Torrance comes off as a weak, horrified woman, trying to save her son, yet still feeble in the wake of her husband as a newly formed monster himself. The child actor, Danny Lloyd, was brilliant, and was chosen for his lengthy amount of attention and intensity. He is very innocent throughout, and visibly frightened, finally becoming possessed by his imaginary friend when his father attacks. The mood of the film is achieved through the hauntingly paced music, screaming through every scene even if nothing happens, the wide shots and vivid block colors of every room, and the exterior shots of the hotel, which are all cloaked in a mass of white snow. The wind howls through the dialogue in the last thirty minutes, which simply builds the action, the dire suspense to an unblinking climax. There are many theories about the hallucinations and the ending of the film, which Kubrick implies makes the entire series of events predestined, but others have their own opinions and theories about the implications of these events. I take what I see onscreen and what Kubrick has espoused on this film at face value, though each scene is riddled with complex implications about the true nature of the hotel, why Jack goes insane and murderous in the last thirty minutes, and the ghostly inhabitants of the hotel. Like Shirley Jackson's "The Haunting of Hill House", the actual place seems intrinsically evil, based on events that transpire there, and hopeless for any kind of help from the outside world. That's why Jack Torrance is predestined to follow in the footsteps of Grady, his reincarnated self. Kubrick liked to leave fans with a sense of intellectual wow in his films and let most things up to interpretation. The Shining is one of the best horror films because it lets us choose why we are horrified, whether because this horror is based in the reality of insanity, or the imagination of the dead, decaying, bloody ghosts of the evil hotel. Kubrick creates another kind of genre within a genre, and creeps us all out with his choices even against the source material. Beautiful and yet so evil, "The Shining" is an entirely new kind of experience, and a film that keeps you awake.
Super Reviewer
January 6, 2013
Yes, "The Shining" is great. There is no replicating the kind of performance Jack Nicholson gives here, and Kubrick imbues the entirety of the film with a beautiful, familiar-yet-askew atmosphere that overtakes viewers as it overtakes the characters. While I can't say I enjoy the ambiguity of the story, which becomes rather convoluted in its concepts (a more contemporary comparison would be Donnie Darko), "The Shining" is a classic for a reason, and has aged exceptionally well.
Super Reviewer
June 9, 2006
Like many adaptations in general (and Stephen King ones in particular), this strays from the source material, but, given that it's an adaptation by Kubrick, it becomes a thing of beauty and art in it's own way. Honestly, I'm kind of torn on this one. It's a difficult movie to summarize easily, but at the same time, it's not. It's weird that way, and so is the movie itself.

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.
paul o.
Super Reviewer
January 15, 2011
Instant Masterpiece! With a load of beautiully filmed tracking shots, Stanley Kubrick executes this film so well. Jack Nicholson just steals the screen by going insane with an axe. "I'm not going to kill you, I'm just going to bash in your brains"

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!
Super Reviewer
½ September 3, 2012
A landmark horror film from a legendary director, "The Shining" not only set the standard for horror flicks made over the last three decades, but also featured Jack Nicholson's best performance since "Chinatown."
Super Reviewer
October 31, 2012
Despite being one of horror's most prolific and impressive writers, Stephen King's novel don't always transfer well to the screen. Reportedly, he can't stand this adaptation of his work as director Stanley Kubrick changed a lot from the original source material. If that's the case and this is the end result, then maybe more director's should add their own spin on King's work as this is one of the genre's finest horror movies.
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.
Super Reviewer
September 25, 2010
This film has many moments of disturbing images, intense dialogue scenes, and performances that will take your breathe away. "The Shining" is a very slow moving picture, that will have you invested, lose you, and have you hanging on tight again by the end, which I might add, is a bit of a letdown. It has such a great story and performances to drive it, but by the end of each scene you just want the film to "get on with it!" I felt as though it got really intense during the conversational scenes, but got far too wordy and dragged on. It felt like I was watching a Kubrick film with a long take, except the dialogue is not really meant for that type of shot. I loved watching this film. Would I call it one of Kubrick's best? Absolutely not, but the filmmaking is superb. "The Shining" doesn't quite live up to the praise, but it's a pretty great film!
Kyle F.
Super Reviewer
½ July 14, 2012
It has its share of old movie flaws, including fade cuts and extra cheese acting, but the Shining is a lot of fun, atmospheric and suspenseful (even if the suspense hits a low at what should be its highest point), and Nicholson is uber creepy (even if its also during the scenes when he isn't supposed to be). Just be prepared for a major let-down ending.
Super Reviewer
October 23, 2011
Wanted to see this for a long time, and whilst I can say it's definitely worth watching, especially for horror/thriller/Nicholson fans, it wasn't as good as the hype has suggested. Yes it was a great movie with great performances from Nicholson and Lloyd, Duvall really got on my nerves and almost ruined the film. She was pathetic, whiny and dangerous and at times her acting is really awful. Another few issues I have is that by the end it's not entirely clear what really happened, I would have liked more of an explanation to the hotel or Jack's and Danny's behaviour. As the film went on, there were a few times when I just felt 'get on with it' and wanted it to be the end. Saying this, I really enjoyed the maze sequences (the actual maze and Danny on his tricycle) and the cinematography was great.
Super Reviewer
October 29, 2011
Hypnotic, iconic, artistic, and brilliant. This classic film is a masterpiece, and a culmination of Kubrick's abilities as a director.
Directors Cat
Super Reviewer
½ January 3, 2012
A lot of people may disagree with me but I see Stanley Kubrick's The Shining to be his absolute best film. This movie is proof that blood special effects dont rule the horror industry. From the films i've seen with Jack Nicholson this is the one role that fit him solidly and of course the role which he has acted at his best. It is a perfect psychological horror that flows scarily unlike modern horror films from beggining to end. The reason this oh so terrifying movie is oh so chillingly nerve wrecking is because Kubrick flawlessly takes advantage of the human nature that everything that we dont know or understand scares us. Somehow this movie believe it or not managed to make sense at the same time. But, the most enigmatic scene and a great example of this happening in this horror classic is the ending that wasn't exactly "an ending" which made it even creepier. Like the whole movie it scared the hell out of me and although the film is set in a gigantic hotel with barely any characters inside of it. It gave me one of the greatest senses of claustrophobia and isolation I have ever experienced.
Super Reviewer
January 13, 2011
Jack Torrance: Mr. Grady. You were the caretaker here. I recognize you. I saw your picture in the newspapers. You, uh, chopped your wife and daughters up into little bits. And then you blew your brains out. 

"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. 
Super Reviewer
November 14, 2011
Grade: A+ (100%)

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.
Super Reviewer
June 29, 2011
Some may not like that the movie deviates from the novel(especially at the end), but The Shinning stands on its own as a definitive horror classic. Stanley Kubrick gives his signature cinematic vision with mind-blowing cinematography, eerie music, and a dream-like atmosphere. Jack Nicholson turns in one hell of a performance playing a writer descending into madness. Like other Kubrick films, the story has many layers of detail and meaning that makes the re-watch value very high. Kubrick manages to make a truly chilling horror movie, and he didn't need to turn the lights off.
Super Reviewer
October 27, 2011
A truly frightening story of insanity and isolation. It boasts some of the most startling images I've ever seen.
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