The Shining Movie Review
By: Justin Hopkins
** Spoiler Warning **
Hello, and welcome to the Classic 13, and in honor of Doctor Sleep coming out. Can’t think of a more appropriate time to look back at Stanley Kubrick’s 1980’s The Shining. Movie cited a lot of the times, as one of the best horror movies of all time. From the elevator scene, room 237, Redrum, and the scene at the bar. Everyone can seem to recite a favorite scene from this movie. A classic that has stood the test of time. Let’s take a closer look and throw my opinion, on a movie that has been talked about almost at nauseum.
The story start off by showing Jack Torrance, being interviewed for the winter Caretaker position at The Overlook Hotel. Where him, his wife and son Danny would spent the winter at, while Jack maintains the hotel over the winter. Learns about the grisly past of the hotel, but believes it will be okay, due to having his Family with him, and the quiet solitude will help him write his play and help with his sobriety. Meanwhile, back in town, Danny is shown a psychic vision, and goes into a seizure like fit. He is taken to a doctor by his Mom Wendy, and we learn of his imaginary friend Tony and an injury a drunk Jack had given him. From there we see them going to the Overlook for their extended stay. While Jack goes off to talk to the owner. Wendy and Danny get a tour from Hallorann. Who sense the power in Danny, because he has the same thing. A power he shared with his Grandmother that they called, The Shining. Told him the house has spirits that will tempt to mess with him, and to not let them get to him and to stay out of room 237. As months go by, and the spirits not only haunt Danny more and more, but begin to eat away at Jack’s Sanity more and more, until he snaps in a terrifying climax that doesn’t let up till the end.
Casting was pretty spot on for this movie. Shelley Duvall did a great job as Wendy. From the start you can tell she is a woman who is kind of suffering silently. She wants so badly for her family to pull through the hard times they had been going through and is willing to do what it takes to make sure that happens. As Jack loses his mind and goes crazy, she really plays well off of that. To learn how she was being treated on set, during all of this, as well makes it that much better that she managed to pull it off. Danny Lloyd played Danny excellently. His interactions with the likes of The Twins and later on with Jack in the maze were some of my favorites in the movie. Even the secondary actors really stood out. Such as Scatman Crothers as Hallorann, Philip Stone as Grady, and Joe Turkel as Lloyd were all spot on for their roles. Of course, Jack Nicholson. For the time being, I’ll say, he did phenomenal as crazed Jack, and will come back to it later on.
I loved the way this movie was shot. Can never go wrong with long shots in my opinion, and the tracking shots were great way to tell the story going on. Transitions were amazing. The downward shot of Jack look at the model of the hedge maze, turning to Wendy and Danny in the maze. Showing Danny’s knowledge of the maze which would speak volumes toward the end. It was a slow burn of a ride, but was perfectly built up. Wouldn’t have had the same effect, if the scares just kept coming. Instead it let the tension build and build Only teasing and showing a little here and there and shows how well Kubrick is at pacing the story. Alright, time to trigger some of you, but time to go to the negatives.
This is one that is more personal toward myself, but this is all my opinion so it is here. I use to really love this movie. Right up until I read the book, and I hate to be that person, but wow, this is just a shell in comparison to what it could have been. A good shell mind you, but one nevertheless. Say that, because the characters could have had so much more to do. All could have had so much more and the cast was so strong and could have brought out those aspects to perfection. Jack never got his redemption and died as a deranged man lost in a maze. Danny had so much more and Wendy’s character was gutted. Feel like the writing just failed the cast on this.
Kubrick did a very good job at creating isolation and horror aspect, but there was one problem, and that was largely the start. You never really feel happiness. When it’s supposed to be a descent into madness. There has to be a point of happiness somewhere. Wendy come across as someone on the brink of a breakdown. Never do enough with Danny, and Jack comes across as a crazy person who just gets even more crazy throughout. Outside of some splashes between Wendy and Danny, everything comes across as cold. Could have been due to how much of the book was left off or the fact they were doing some scenes over a hundred times, but the story suffers from not having this.
I want to forward this next part, with the reminder that I do think crazed Jack was great, but Jack Nicholson never came across a caring husband and Father. The scenes sprinkled in to try and make it come across that way failed miserably. Like I said above, could have been because the countless takes robbing the scenes of any emotion, but I took notice of this on my first watch and has gotten worse with age.
And that is that, for this months Classic 13. I know not a lot of you will share my views when it comes to the negative and that is perfectly fine. Even with those in mind, still recognize this as an all-time great movie. Flaws and all. It has inspired a slew of people to get into the horror genre and with next year being it’s 40 year anniversary. Don’t see that changing anytime soon. Final Grade: A
Thank you for reading