Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) applies for a job at a well known large hotel. This job will see him take care of the hotel during the winter season in which the hotel does not operate as the whole area becomes isolated. Jack gets the job and is joined by his wife and son. Little do they know that the hotel has a sinister presence within it as well as a dark history relating to staff members. Over time Jack becomes extremely violent and a significant threat to his own family, developing a taste for murder. On the flip side, Jack’s son (Danny) is discovering more about his strange psychic ability which allows him to see horrific visions. Some of these visions are from the past, future & present. This ability that Danny has is known as “The Shining”.
For those who are not aware, this film is directed by Stanley Kubrick and based on a novel by Stephen King. I can mention that there are many elements in this film which differ from the original story. This was due to creative difference between Stephen King & Stanley Kubrick during the filming process. For those who have not seen the film, this will also be a spoiler-free review.
The Shining consists of many positive elements which make this film one of the great horror movies of all time. Firstly, the film carries such mysteries within its plot. While watching the film, there are many questions raised. Movie buffs are still questioning some things you will find answers to and other secrets even to this very day. While it’s not the same type of genre, I had a similar experience with Kubrick’s sci-fi film “2001: A Space Odyssey” where such creativity is displayed that can only leave audiences questioning many things about the plot. Is this a positive thing for a film? I say, yes. After all, do you want to watch a movie then forget about it the next day? I don’t. The film’s viewers can also be left having different interpretations to one another (particularly when it comes to film’s finale).
From a filming point of view, this is also fantastic. As a director Stanley Kubrick has captured some of the most creative shots I have ever seen in a horror film. Many shots capture such beauty while also managing to create such suspense in a single frame. Selected close-ups, strange filming angles etc. all contribute to the fantastic way this story gets told. After watching the film, I was surprised to find out that the director himself ordered many retakes for each scene as he demanded perfection in all areas. Once you’ve seen the film for yourself, you will understand why this was the case. Even if something ‘scary’ doesn’t appear on screen, the scenes are still full of tense moments and will be until the film’s credits roll.
As for performances here, our three leads are jaw-dropping, particularly Jack Nicholson as the leading character. Watching Jack Torrance start as a man who is confident and optimistic during the film’s opening only to see him take a dark and scary path, causing him to transform is genuinely remarkable. This is also easily one of the most outstanding performances by Jack Nicholson of all time. When your leading man turns to darkness with a thirst to kill, you can’t tell me there are other films just like this? Performances by Shelley Duvall, who plays Jack’s wife and Danny Lloyd, who plays Jack’s son, should also be highly praised.
Overall, if you enjoy horror films and you’ve never have seen The Shining, you need to add this to your watchlist (like right now). The Shining is truly a masterpiece in all areas. As a plot, it amazes me to this very day that many elements are still being questioned with multiple theories circulating. The film’s direction and filming style should be studied by all who appreciate film. The performances here are unforgettable, particularly from the actor Jack Nicholson who displays what I feel might be his most excellent on-screen performance of his career. Once you’ve seen the film, I find some of the making of features are just as fascinating to watch. After rewatching this film in preparation for “Doctor Sleep”, it amazes me how this film still holds up and out “Shines” many horror films we continue to get on the big screens daily.
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Review Written by Peter Walkden