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.