The Shining (Movie Review)

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I love receiving review requests. So, when a request to review The Shining came in, I jumped on it. Did I really need a reason to re-watch The Shining? No, but I’ll take it. 🙂

SHOW RATING OVERVIEW ★★★★★ (5 Stars)
Writing/Story: ★★★★★ | Cinematography:  ★★★★★ Character(s)/Acting: ★★★★★

STORY LINE:

Jack Torrance, a writer and former teacher, signs a contract to spend the winter, with his family taking care of an old hotel with a violent past. Secluded in the Colorado mountains for 5 months, Jack, who is recently sober, slowly gets more violent and angry. His son, Danny, tries to use a special talent, the “Shining”, to inform the people outside about what is going on in the hotel.

MY 2 CENTS:

The Shining has always been one of my favorite horror films. It is perfect in just about every way. When The Shinning was first released, in 1980, it received mixed reviews. People didn’t really know what to make of it.

The fact that it was nominated for a Razzie award – honoring the worst of cinematic under-achievements – just blows me away. In my opinion, it is pretty perfect! Much like Citizen Kane or Schindler’s List, I can’t think of anything wrong with this film.

Sure, it’s metaphorical and it leaves the audience wondering what they just watched. What is wrong with that?  

Writing/Story: ★★★★★

I loved the novel. It was one of the first books I ever read that truly scared me. And the film, although very different than the novel, had the same effect. I have read that Stephen King hated the movie and recently read the following quote:

“The book is hot, and the movie is cold; the book ends in fire, and the movie in ice. In the book, there’s an actual arc where you see this guy, Jack Torrance, trying to be good, and little by little he moves over to this place where he’s crazy. And as far as I was concerned, when I saw the movie, Jack was crazy from the first scene. I had to keep my mouth shut at the time. It was a screening, and Nicholson was there. But I’m thinking to myself the minute he’s on the screen, ‘Oh, I know this guy. I’ve seen him in five motorcycle movies, where Jack Nicholson played the same part.’ And it’s so misogynistic. I mean, Wendy Torrance is just presented as this sort of screaming dishrag. But that’s just me, that’s the way I am.” ~ Stephen King, on The Shining

In my opinion, yes, the book and the film are very different. However, just because I love the book doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the movie for what it is. The Shining is a classic horror film that will, until I die, send chills up and down my spine and nightmares into my sleeping mind.

Cinematography ★★★★★

This film has some of the best cinematography I’ve ever seen and to say that about a horror film is pretty amazing. Most horror films, especially these days, are all about the jump out at you scares, the blood and gore, and less about the visual aspects of the film.

The opening scene, where he is driving up the mountain, is stunning.

Fun fact… Although the inspiration for the fictional hotel came from Colorado’s Stanley Hotel, Kubrick ended up using Oregon’s Timberline Lodge for the exterior shots of The Shining’s Overlook Hotel and all of the interior scenes were filmed in England.

The entire film, from the opening until the closing credits, visually draws you in and leaves you on the edge of your seat in anticipation and fear.

Character(s)/Acting: ★★★★★

Jack Nicholson is absolutely fantastic in this film. When you first watch him, he is oddly and uncomfortably comical. His is so light hearted in some of the scenes, especially the terrifying ones. However, as you watch his insanity settle in, you realize it is a great performance. One of the scariest scenes is when Jack is stalking his wife up the stairs. He is telling her, with a crazy smile on his face, “Wendy? Darling? Light, of my life. I’m not gonna hurt ya. You didn’t let me finish my sentence. I said, I’m not gonna hurt ya. I’m just going to bash your brains in. …”

Shelley Duvall appears to be on edge and devastated throughout this entire film. I’ve heard that Stanley Kubrick treated Shelley very poorly throughout filming. Some people say he did it in order to get this devastated performance, and although I don’t agree with his methods, I have to admit it worked. Watching her, you truly do believe she is afraid… devastated… and just completely lost.

Danny Lloyd is amazing and, in my opinion, gives us one of the all-time best child actor performances. He is natural and completely believable. I find it hard to believe that his film credits pretty much start and end with this film. However, he does make an appearance in the film Doctor Sleep, the sequel to The Shining. But, I was disappointed to find out he is playing just a spectator and not reprising his role as Danny.

FUN FACT:

There is a photograph at the ends of the film, that shows Jack Torrancce, Jack Nicholson’s character, smiling at the 1921 July 4th Ball at the Overlook Hotel. It leaves the audience on edge, because it leaves you questioning reality. Has he been there the whole time? Was he there before? The worst part is that the questions are never answered.

When asked what the photograph means, Stanley Kubrick said, “The ballroom photograph at the very end suggests the reincarnation of Jack.” That would mean that Jack Torrance is the reincarnation of a guest or someone on staff at the Overlook in 1921.

MY FAVORITE QUOTES:

“Some places are like people: some shine and some don’t.”

“I like you, Lloyd. I always liked you. You were always the best of them. Best goddamned bartender from Timbuktu to Portland, Maine. Or Portland, Oregon, for that matter.”

This quote makes me wonder… ‘I always like you.’ Is he referring to the fact that he knew him before, from time spent at the hotel? Plus, the mention of Portland, Oregon… is that a nod to the fact that the exterior hotel shots were filmed in Oregon? Just food for thought.

TO SUM IT UP:

This film is a terrifying glimpse into the declining mental state of a man on the edge. It’s a horror film where the lead character – a drunk on the wagon – is an abusive husband and father. Sure, it is an extreme situation but the fact that this type of thing can, and has, happened makes it all the more disturbing.

This movie came out in 1980, so you’ve probably already seen it, but if not, I highly recommend it.  Especially if you plan to see Doctor Sleep while its still in the theatres… watch The Shining first, even if just to reacquaint yourself.

Have you seen The Shining? If you have, let me know your thoughts, in the comments below. If not, I recommend seeing it for yourself and forming your own opinion.

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