The Shining (1980)

In all honesty, who would take this job??!??!!?

On the wagon and out of lucrative work thanks to his alcoholism and family troubles, aspiring novelist Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) accepts a position as the off-season custodian at an elegant but eerie hotel so he can write undisturbed. But shortly after Jack, his wife (Shelley Duvall) and his young son (Danny Lloyd) settle in, the ominous hotel begins to wield its sinister power.

I have seen this film twice in my life, but only when I was like back in 6th grade, so I didn’t get the full effect of this, and also Stanley Kubrick is in the director’s chair, so I have reason to watch it again.

When it comes to creating a mood that corresponds with a setting, Stanley Kubrick can make it happen no matter what. Here, he shows that. Right from the beginning we get an over-head shot of the car going through the rocky mountains to the scary-ass huge hotel and we just get a sense that almost nothing is going to go right.

This is probably one of Kubrick’s best jobs at directing, and its because almost everything from the setting, to the steady-camera work (which was unheard for big budget movies then), and to the overall nothings right mood, it all works so well. I mean I have seen this twice but I was still on the edge of my seat, the whole time regardless. There are still some great aspects of this film including the scenes of little Danny going through the hallways, and you listen to the sounds change as hes moving around the hotel. Almost every scene that takes place in the hotel, is just chilling, cause these are the only people in the hotel, or so they think. Every time someone is in the hallway doing something the camera is following them the whole way, and the way the camera is used, with such a large scale, you can just see how big this place is for two people.

I have to give Kubrick more props cause he’s doing some inventive stuff with the horror genre here. Too many thing in horror are explained, and Kubrick feels as if maybe its more ambiguous, as if you don’t know what’s real, and what’s not real, all of it just adds more to a feeling of alienation but for a good reason. We see how as each and every day goes by, this family is self-destructing, and its not so much as a horror story about the ghosts and demons, but how much this sense of loneliness in such a big space, can make you go just go nuts one by one. I had a problem with only one aspect of this film and it was that I feel like Kubrick did too much irony in the first and second act. There are lines like, “isn’t this going to be just swell”, or “nothing wrong can happen”, we know some crazy shit is going to happen just telling by the trailer, but don’t shower us with all of the predictable lines from any horror movie.

Jack Nicholson, was actually born to play this role. I think without this performance, he would have never been able to pick up great villainous roles, in the future. He starts out as your normal average Joe, just looking for some relaxation, and just descends into the craziest person you have ever seen on film. By the end when he really starts to lose it, almost every scene is just great as your watching Nicholson rambling, yelling, and swinging around an ax, all in top form. Nobody can deliver this line quite like him.

Shelley Duvall, no lie, is a pretty crappy actress I have to say. The beginning she seems like shes just forcing out her lines left and right, however by the end her facial emotions, start to freak us out. She has got the biggest eyes I have ever seen on a woman, and the whitest face, so to see a chick in utter terror, with her huge eyes popping out, brings out some great scares in myself too.

Everything about this movie just builds and builds and builds, until the final 30 minutes which are really some of the best and most terrifying stuff ever. Also, there is plenty of subliminal messages, some you can pick out, others you can’t. However, if you just look at the big picture, it is still a freaky movie.

Consensus: The Shining is one of Kubrick’s most un-appreciated films of all-time, however is one of his best, showing great camera work, that works so well with the space and mood, along with a crazy Nicholson in top-form. Not to mention just a bunch of scenes that will freak you the hell out.

9.5/10=Full Pricee!!!


  1. The whole movie is just so….. disorienting and, well, crazy. But it is intelligent enough for me to be drawn to it. I know Jack’s the perfect Jack (Torrance) but I think the real star here is Kubrick!

  2. Kubrick is my favorite director but this and Lolita are the only two movies of his I don’t give a 5/5, I need to see this again, but I only gave it a 4/5 originally. Great review.

  3. I have to say that Jack Nicholson is my least favorite part of “The Shining.” He has a job to do and he does it reasonably well, but he’s so over-the-top that I think it detracts at times from the mood Kubrick works so hard to create. And I had the opposite reaction to Shelley Duvall that you did: She was one of the big draws in the film. She looks for all the world like the scared, timid wife of an abusive drunk, the kind of person who’s learned to keep herself to herself because expressing her opinion leads to violence.

  4. One of my favorite flicks of all time. So simply disturbing. I’m so glad I saw the movie before the book, because the book haunts me even moreso than the film, but if people didn’t understand horror at it’s best, then they haven’t seen The Shining. Glad to see you show it it’s proper love.

  5. Still one of the most horrifying films I have ever seen. Despite what King himself thought of the adaptation, this is truly a great piece of filmmaking and in some areas, improves on the book. Those twins, that chick in the tub, that bartender, those elvator doors!!! Great stuff…forever haunting, with terrific performances all around. Nice to read your commentary and give it the praise it deserves.

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