- Directed by Stanley Kubrick
- May 23, 1980 (US) / October 2, 1980 (UK)
A writer and his family head to an isolated hotel to tend to it during the winter but sinister forces cause the father to descend into madness while his son sees horrific visions.
The Shining is a classic horror film. It is more disturbing though than it is filled with actual scares. There are strange visuals like the old woman in the bathtub and what the hell is going on with that dog and guy in the suit that Wendy sees at the end?! That alone is just so f*****g weird.
Jack Nicholson would not have been my first choice to play Jack Torrance. He is certainly perfect for playing a crazy individual. When he plays the normal guy, he is not a normal guy you would let small children around nor trust with much of anything. The man has a perpetual creepy look no matter what age he is or role he plays.
There are clearly Issues with the character of Jack. Something never seems quite right with him from the start and maybe that’s why Nicholson got cast. It is always as if he is trying to keep his internal demons under control. We know shortly after the beginning that he has an alcohol problem and that has led him to abuse his son.
Shelley Duvall is housewife Wendy. What she does let out about Jack and his nature is concerning but what you get from her performance indicates things are worse than she lets on to the audience. I had the impression that there was significant abuse from Jack towards Wendy before the film ever started. Her description of what Jack did to Danny the last time he drank feels like a victim covering for an abuser.
And then there is Danny. Danny with the gift to see other worldly things. You are going to believe convincingly at first that Danny has a vivid imagination which is also possibly affected by the problems in the Torrance household but this being a horror film along with him meeting Dick Hallorann (Scatman Crothers) let you know Danny has a genuine power.
Scatman Crothers is hard to see in this movie. At least for me. The man had a distinctive voice that was used in quite a few cartoons that I watched growing up. To see him in something so dark and sinister perplexes the child in me. His character is the one that enlightens Danny to his reality.
This brings me to another thought I had: What is part of Jack’s issues aside from his alcoholism? Did he also have the shining? I always thought he did and that his psychological problems were either caused by or exacerbated by his lack of understanding and inability to control those powers.
The Shining is an ever-increasing set of bizarre and disturbing visuals caused by the isolation of the snowbound hotel. The hotel itself comes off as an extra-large creepy old house that also happens to be haunted and built on an Indian burial ground. Why anyone would agree to stay at any place built on an Indian burial ground for an extended period is beyond me. That screams dangerous.
Jack’s dissent into madness is rather quick as the hotel is able to sink its claws into him. Aside from the story told at the beginning of the film you learn that the hotel itself has a history of the strange and the bizarre that they wish to keep quiet. Hotel manager Stuart Ullman (Barry Nelson) struck me as being in a bit of a rush to secure a caretaker and get out of there. Had he encountered some strangeness along with the rest of the staff?
One of the marks of a great film is that it leaves you with something to debate if not numerous things to talk over. What is the meaning of this and that? What really occurred? One of the debates is that Jack was always a part of the hotel and was simply returning to it. Some have argued against this and some have argued for it I think the hotel itself lured its victims in one way or another. Jack was not a part of the hotel but rather lured to it.
Great stories leave you with something to think about. They give you just enough to get you from the beginning to the end and answer just enough for the story to make sense while also allowing you to create head canon that works. Too often today everything is answered. You are not left with anything to really discuss hence fan theories that are often illogical or just plain nonsensical.
The finale is brutal and disturbing. What really sells how far gone Jack is is when you see the repetitive typing. He has spent the whole movie getting no writing done and dreaming of killing his family. That is not a good sign for someone’s mental health. The chase through the hedge maze is great as is when Jack is stalking Wendy. My only beef is the cap to the whole story with Jack frozen in the snow. I am not bothered by him being frozen in the snow but rather the expression on his face. I always find it comical.
The Shining is a classic piece of filmmaking by the legendary Stanley Kubrick. The man was behind one too many classic films. Not that that’s a bad thing but having that many classics on your résumé is quite impressive. This is an amazing film everyone should see!