The Shining

Hello, dear readers. I apologize for the delay in reviews. Between work and getting ready for a major career change, I hardly had the time to write reviews. But I am back! Today, I will review the 1980 genre classic, The Shining. Directed by masterful director Stanley Kubrick, this film went down as one of the greatest modern day horror masterpieces. Although Stephen King will “kindly” disagree. The movie is borderline sadistic in how it psychologically messes with the audience. The amount of twists and turns add up to one hell of a psychological thriller that made a mess out of my brain. The film maintains an eerie atmosphere throughout the film and it never settles until days after the end credits rolled. Jack Nicholson delivers another career-defining performance as Jack Torrance. The actor’s charisma and scary demeanor matches the tone of the movie perfectly. However, Shelley Duvall quite literally took me out of the movie at times with her blubbering performance.

I will explain the basic premise of the movie the best I can. There are so many different parts to the story, so many different interpretations and themes to make sense of, so the story can be difficult to comprehend once you go deeper and deeper into the story. Alas, one of the many traits of a Kubrick film! Jack Torrance (Nicholson) agrees to spend the winter as a caretaker at an old hotel named, “The Overlook Hotel.” The hotel is known to have an angry, haunted past. These demons and ghosts slowly catch up with Jack as he becomes more angry, depressed, and drunk, thus effecting his wife, Wendy (Shelley Duvall), and son, Danny. Danny uses a special talent of his called, “The Shining” to alert the outside world of all the events that are occurring in the hotel.

One of the things that this movie is infamous for is how it made Stephen King loathe it. He wrote the book on which this movie is based on. It is safe to say that Kubrick took liberty of the source material and switched things around, which King was not happy with. As a reader of the book, I can say both mediums are different. As a rabid fan of movies, I do really like the movie for what it was. An incredibly creepy horror that messes with your perceptions. The screenplay, written by Kubrick, can sometimes be hard to follow. That being said, it is something that is open to interpretation. I have read thoughts ranging from simple themes such as effects of alcoholism to how this story alludes to fairytales such as Hansel and Gretel and Three Little Pigs. There are other people asking, “Is this real? Are these ghosts actually real or are they the figment of the Torrances’ imaginations?” Everybody has their own interpretation. Just watch the movie, and you shall see.

I mentioned before that Jack Nicholson delivers another one amazing performance. After his 1974 feature Chinatown, I would not think that would be possible. His demeanor is tough to start out with, but once he is driven to madness by the hotel, he becomes downright crazy and that was great to see. When he says that famous line, “Here’s Johnny,” you can see how unhinged he has become. On the other side of the spectrum, I thought Duvall was mostly terrible. Her constant screaming and crying sounded fake and quite honestly, made my ears bleed. Her performance took me out of the film at times which is disappointing because of Nicholson’s amazing performance and Kubrick’s stylish directing.

The film maintains a consistent atmosphere of eeriness. The Overlook Hotel is an old-fashioned place set in the mountains and miles away from civilization which advances the creepiness of the story. Cinematographer John Alcott does a wonderful job making the film look creepy as it is. His use of the colors and production design was something special. Also that music created by Wendy Carlos was unsettling, which also added to the film. The ghosts were creepy too. Those twin girls? Enough said. Also, fantastic ending story-wise and visually.

Overall, The Shining is a great psychological horror film and a modern-day masterpiece bolstered by Jack Nicholson’s performance. This is one of the creepiest-looking films I have ever seen. I find it sad that I was abruptly taken away from the story from Shelley Duvall’s acting which took down the final score of this movie a notch. But after the commercial failure of his previous film, 1975’s underrated Barry Lyndon, it’s nice to see Kubrick having mainstream success once more.

Redrum” “Come play with us, Danny. Forever, and ever, and ever.”

My Grade: B+


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