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When this film first came out in 1980, I remember going to see it on opening night. The sheer terror that I experienced in viewing "The Shining" was enough to make me go to bed with the lights turned ON every night for an entire summer. This movie just scared the life out of me, which is what still happens every time I rent the video for a re-watch. I have seen The Shining at least six or seven times, and I still believe it to be simultaneously and paradoxically one of the most frightening and yet funniest films I've ever seen. Frightening because of the extraordinarily effective use of long shots to create feelings of isolation, convex lens shots to enhance surrealism, and meticulously scored music to bring tension levels to virtually unbearable levels. And "funny" because of Jack Nicholson's outrageous and in many cases ad-libbed onscreen antics. It never ceases to amaze me how The Shining is actually two films in one, both a comedy AND a horror flick. Ghostly apparitions of a strikingly menacing nature haunt much of the first half of the film, which gradually evolve into ever more serious physical threats as time progresses. Be that as it may, there is surprisingly little violence given the apparent intensity, but that is little comfort for the feint of heart as much of the terror is more implied than manifest. The Shining is a truly frightening movie that works symbolically on many levels, but is basically about human shortcomings and the way they can be exploited by unconscious forces combined with weakness of will. This film scares the most just by using suggestion to turn your own imagination against you. The Shining is a brilliant cinematic masterpiece, the likes of which have never been seen before or since. Highly, highly recommended. - Paul
I can't praise this film long enough!
The Shining is, without doubt, one of Stanley Kubrick's undisputed masterpieces and a true classic in horror cinema. It is a film that, over the course of the years, has managed to scare the living hell out of its audiences (and still does). The film is an adaptation of Stepehen King's original novel, written in the late '70s, and although the film is not very loyal to the book, it still stands as a thing of its own.
Right from the beginning, as we contemplate the car going to the hotel from those stunning aerial shots, deeply inside us we know that something in the film, somehow, sometime is going to go wrong. As we obtain that severe warning, an almost inaudible voice gently whispers to us 'sit tight', a sense of unexpectedness invades us all, and it is that very same feeling that makes our hair stand on end throughout out the entire movie.
The plot is simple: Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) becomes the caretaker of the Overlook Hotel in up in the secluded mountains of Colorado. Jack, being a family man, takes his wife (Shelley Duvall) and son (Danny Lloyd) to the hotel to keep him company throughout the long, isolated nights. During their stay, strange things occur when Jack's son Danny sees gruesome images powered by a force called 'the shining' and Jack is heavily affected by this. Along with writer's block and the demons of the hotel haunting him, Jack has a complete mental breakdown and the situation takes a sinister turn for the worse.
The film, unlike many horror-oriented films nowadays, doesn't only rely on stomach-churning and gory images (which it does contain, anyway) but on the incredibly scary music based on the works of Béla Bartók and on the excellent cinematography (the Steadicam is superbly used, giving us a sense of ever-following evil), as well. The terrifying mood and atmosphere of the film is carefully and masterfully woven by Kubrick, who clearly knows how to really make a horror movie.
Jack Nicholson's powerful performance as the mad father and husband is as over the top as it is brilliant. Shelley Duvall, who plays the worrying wife who tries to help her son, is also a stand out; she shows a kind of trembling fear in many scenes and is able to display weakness and vulnerability in a very convincing way. Undoubtedly, The Shining is full of memorable moments (the elevator scene or the 'Heeeeeere's Johnny' one-liner for instance) and, simply put, it's flawlessly brilliant.
Stanley Kubrick's direction is pure excellence, giving the whole film a cold and atmospheric look, thus creating an unbearable sense of paranoia and terror. There are moments of sheer brilliance and exquisite perfection in this film; the horrifying maze chase is a perfect example. Every single shot is masterfully created and there are some genuinely scary scenes which will make you sit on the edge of your seat.
The Shining is, in my opinion, a special landmark in horror cinema which will always be regarded as one of the scariest movies in film history. Since I saw it last year, when I was 13, I have rarely been able to have a bath in my bathtub.Just in case, ya know. Overall, The Shining is incomparably the scariest film I've ever seen in my whole life (and I can tell you I've seen a great deal of horror films).
It is an unforgettable, chilling, majestic and truly, profoundly scary film crafted by an eccentric genius who wants to show that the impossible can be done. The Shining is a sublime, hauntingly intriguing and endlessly watchable film that shows Kubrick at his best.
Stephen King may have said the master director knew nothing about horror,
but that simply is not true. That is a too biased opinion for anyone to go
on given that he wrote the book, which Kubrick based his wonderful film ever
so loosely on. And at any rate, faithful or not, KUBRICK's Shining-the BEST
crafted genre film of the 80's- performs it's duty as a fright flick, and
There are appropriately no words strong enough to convey the haunting beauty of the visuals showcased throughout the movie, from the drive to the Overlook to the final chase in the hedgemaze the movie is a feast for the eyes as it is for the mind. And it IS a feast for the mind as The Shining is as psychological as horror gets, toying relentlessly, and expertly with your emotions and expectations(some could even say SADISTICALLY), throwing something in that's completely out of left field and never, ever letting you catch your breath between the now classic shocks as the movie speeds toward it's memorable conclusion in the last half hour.
Kudos are in order for Kubrick, a director of the old school style, who builds an eerie atmosphere by exercising total control over the filmic environment, manipulating everything down to the tiniest detail to suit the needs of the picture, yet filming with a coldly detatched, objective eye, as though Kubrick were making a documentary about these events. This would account for the dialouge, which-thankfully-is not the typical phoney balloney Hollywood banter (Kubrick detractors/King purists usually bitch about this the most, having been weaned on the phony nature of 'Hollywood talk', which is usually nothing at all like real talk. Many of us speak 'on the nose', and do not try to convey subtext through use of carefully chosen words that articulate our state of being without being direct.) In this light, Shelley Duvall must be commended for her performance which is very naturalistic. It does not seem like acting at all. She is not concerned with glamour, nor does she clutter her performance with typical acting chops, but rather she is solely focussed on hitting the emotional highpoints of her character as 'Wendy' gradually comes to realize that her husband is a madman. And let's face it folks, how many of us would like a million bucks when placed in a situation like that? Who does NOT look like a blubbering idiot when they are hysterical? That's what I thought, so what did you expect? She was great. To say nothing of the rest of the cast.
Chilling, majestic piece of cinematic fright, this film combines all the
great elements of an intellectual thriller, with the grand vision of a
director who has the instinctual capacity to pace a moody horror flick
within the realm of his filmmaking genius that includes an eye for the
original shot, an ice-cold soundtrack and an overall sense of
dehumanization. This movie cuts through all the typical horror movies like
red-poker through a human eye, as it allows the viewer to not only feel the
violence and psychosis of its protagonist, but appreciate the seed from
which the derangement stems. One of the scariest things for people to face
is the unknown and this film presents its plotting with just that thought
mind. The setting is perfect, in a desolate winter hideaway. The quietness
of the moment is a character in itself, as the fermenting aggressor in Jack
Torrance's mind wallows in this idle time, and breeds the devil's new
playground. I always felt like the presence of evil was dormant in all of
our minds, with only the circumstances of the moment, and the reasons given
therein, needed to wake its violent ass and pounce over its unsuspecting
victims. This film is a perfect example of this very thought.
And it is within this film's subtle touches of the canvas, the clackity-clacks of the young boy's big wheel riding along the empty hallways of the hotel, the labyrinthian garden representing the mind's fine line between sane and insane, Kubrick's purposely transfixed editing inconsistencies, continuity errors and set mis-arrangements, that we discover a world guided by the righteous and tangible, but coaxed away by the powerful and unknown. I have never read the book upon which the film is based, but without that as a comparison point, I am proud to say that this is one of the most terrifying films that I have ever seen. I thought that the runtime of the film could've been cut by a little bit, but then again, I am not one of the most acclaimed directors in the history of film, so maybe I should keep my two-cent criticisms over a superb film, to myself. All in all, this movie captures your attention with its grand form and vision, ropes you in with some terror and eccentric direction, and ties you down and stabs you in the heart with its cold-eyed view of the man's mind gone overboard, creepy atmosphere and the loss of humanity.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's well know that Stephen King doesn't like Stanley Kubrick's version
of The Shining (so much so that he scripted an abysmal TV movie
version). According to him, Kubrick didn't understand the horror genre.
Well, I think Kubrick did. I think he understood it only too well. He
knew that it was a genre full of conventions, cheap tricks and tired
clichés. Therefore Kubrick decided to throw all that nonsense out of
the window and make a film based on atmosphere rather than predictable
thrills. You don't get people here jumping out of the dark time after
time. You don't get worthless shocks. Kubrick's version of The Shining
is an insidious film. It gets under your skin. In other words, it isn't
for Pavlovian dogs that have spent a lifetime being conditioned by
What runs deepest through The Shining is a frustration with family. Right from the beginning it's obvious that Jack isn't happy with his lot as he's being shown around the hotel he can't help but take a sneaky look at the backsides of a couple of women. Well, can you blame him? The poor man is married to a bug-eyed, bucktoothed Olive Oil look-a-like.
Then there's Jack's quiet frustration with his son Danny. As he's driving to the hotel, he's bothered by requests for food. And then his son makes out that he's knowledgeable because he saw a programme on TV. Already he's slightly irked - he's got to spend months alone with these people; one who resembles Popeye's missus and one who talks to his finger.
So really the hotel brings out nothing that isn't already there. It merely brings everything to the surface Jack's resentment as regards his wife, his frustration as regards his lack of writing talent and his annoyance at having a troubled son. It's kind of like he's testing his family. Are they strong enough as a unit to survive being cooped up together?
One of the underlying themes in the film seems to be television. What happens in The Shining is what happens when someone stops watching the idiot box. With it, a person can find solace in mindless programming and retreat from the strictures of family life. Without it they're faced with all their problems and all the failings of their loved ones. Even the strongest family can be brought to its knees when there's no escape from each other's company. Therefore it's quite telling, when Jack loses the plot completely, that he spouts lines from TV: "Honey, I'm home" and "Here's Johnny." Just watch some television, Jack.
But it's also the pain of writing that contributes to Jack's insanity. There's nothing quite as harrowing as an empty page. Plus there's nothing more annoying than being interrupted mid-flow. One of the best scenes in the film is when Jack tells his wife to get lost when she interrupts him. It's extremely violent in how cold Jack is towards Wendy. And because it's grounded in a reality, it's all the more effective.
Also rather unsettling is the scene where Jack talks to his son. He makes Danny sit on his lap and he proceeds to tell him how much he loves him and how he'd never hurt him. It works so well because it's so cold and because there's such an obvious lack of affection. The words are just empty platitudes. They mean absolutely nothing.
Jack's true feelings are only revealed when he gets to talk to Lloyd. It's in this scene that you realise the marriage isn't all it's cracked up to be Wendy has never forgiven him for accidentally hurting his son. And it's also in this scene that you realise (as if you hadn't noticed earlier) that Jack is absolutely crackers. He's talking to ghosts. But they could also be figments of his imagination, for there are mirrors behind most of the ghosts he talks to. Effectively he's talking to himself. And I love this matter of fact way of dealing with the supernatural. There are no fancy tricks. Everything just seems unnaturally natural.
In fact, everything to do with the ghosts is superbly handled. The twins are spooky, Lloyd is amiable and Grady is out of his mind. And it's Grady who's probably the most chilling presence in the film. He starts off as a bumbling waiter but then quickly becomes a stone cold killer. Just the way he says 'corrected' conveys more terror than a million slasher films. And Philip Stone's performance is a million times more subtle than Nicholson's. I mean, as much as I like Jack in the film, he does chew the scenery. But Kubrick likes his over the top performances, so that's the way he wanted it.
And undoubtedly it's Kubrick's movie. He's the real star. And I love everything he brings to the film. I love his command of lighting just look at The Gold Room scenes. I love his use of music. I love the way that he turns the Room 237 scene, one that could have been a standard 'jump' scene, into a comment on Jack's marriage his willingness to be unfaithful. I love the way that he leaves lots of unanswered questions. I love the shots of the blood coming out of the lift. I love the helicopter shots at the start. I love the way that pages and pages of typed words are the most frightening visual in the film. I love the maze. I love the fact that you see a ghost getting a blow-job from a ghost in a bear suit Man, I love absolutely everything about this film. It's horror for people who know that true horror isn't being stalked by a man in a mask, but being trapped alone with your family.
I was never a big fan of horror movies. They usually try cheap tricks
to scare their audiences like loud noises and creepy children. They
usually lack originality and contain overacting galore. The only horror
movie i like was Stir of Echoes with Kevin Bacon. It was well-acted,
and had a great story. But it has been joined and maybe even surpassed
by Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, quite possibly the scariest movie
The movie follows a writer (Jack Nicholson) and his family who agree to watch over a hotel while it is closed for the winter. There were rumors of the place being haunted and the last resident went crazy and murdered his family. But Jack is convinced it will be OK and he can use the quiet to overcome his writer's block. After months of solitude and silence however, Jack becomes a grumpy and later violent. Is it cabin fever or is there something in the hotel that is driving him mad?
One of the creepiest parts about the movie is the feeling of isolation that Kubrick makes. The hotel is very silent, and the rooms are huge, yet always empty. It is also eerily calm when Jack's son is riding his bike through the barren hallways. Jack Nicholson's performance is also one of his very best, scaring the hell out of me and making me sure to get out once in awhile. My favorite scene is when he is talking to a ghost from inside a walk-in refrigerator.
The Shining is tops for horror movies in my opinion, beating the snot out of crap like the Ring and The Blair Witch Project. It may be a oldie, but is definitely a goodie. 8/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Okay, okay, maybe not THE greatest. I mean, The Exorcist and Psycho and a
few others are hard to pass up, but The Shining is way up there. It is,
however, by far the best Stephen King story that has been made into a movie.
It's better than The Stand, better than Pet Sematary (if not quite as
scary), better than Cujo, better than The Green Mile, better the Dolores
Claiborne, better than Stand By Me (just barely, though), and yes, it's
better than The Shawshank Redemption (shut up, it's better), I don't care
WHAT the IMDb Top 250 says.
I read that, a couple of decades ago, Stanley Kubrick was sorting through novels at his home trying to find one that might make a good movie, and from the other room, his wife would hear a pounding noise every half hour or so as he threw books against the wall in frustration. Finally, she didn't hear any noise for almost two hours, and when she went to check and see if he had died in his chair or something (I tell this with all due respect, of course), she found him concentrating on a book that he had in his hand, and the book was The Shining. And thank God, too, because he went on to convert that book into one of the best horror films ever.
Stephen King can be thanked for the complexity of the story, about a man who takes his wife and son up to a remote hotel to oversee it during the extremely isolated winter as he works on his writing. Jack Nicholson can be thanked for his dead-on performance as Jack Torrance (how many movies has Jack been in where he plays a character named Jack?), as well as his flawless delivery of several now-famous lines (`Heeeeeere's Johnny!!'). Shelley Duvall can be thanked for giving a performance that allows the audience to relate to Jack's desires to kill her. Stanley Kubrick can be thanked for giving this excellent story his very recognizable touch, and whoever the casting director was can be thanked for scrounging up the creepiest twins on the planet to play the part of the murdered girls.
One of the most significant aspects of this movie, necessary for the story as a whole to have its most significant effect, is the isolation, and it's presents flawlessly. The film starts off with a lengthy scene following Jack as he drives up to the old hotel for his interview for the job of the caretaker for the winter. This is soon followed by the same thing following Jack and his family as they drive up the windy mountain road to the hotel. This time the scene is intermixed with shots of Jack, Wendy, and Danny talking in the car, in which Kubrick managed to sneak in a quick suggestion about the evils of TV, as Wendy voices her concern about talking about cannibalism in front of Danny, who says that it's okay because he's already seen it on TV (`See? It's okay, he saw it on the television.').
The hotel itself is the perfect setting for a story like this to take place, and it's bloody past is made much more frightening by the huge, echoing rooms and the long hallways. These rooms with their echoes constantly emphasize the emptiness of the hotel, but it is the hallways that really created most of the scariness of this movie, and Kubrick's traditional tracking shots give the hallways a creepy three-dimensional feel. Early in the film, there is a famous tracking shot that follows Danny in a large circle as he rides around the halls on his Big Wheel (is that what those are called?), and his relative speed (as well as the clunking made by the wheels as he goes back and forth from the hardwood floors to the throw rugs) gives the feeling of not knowing what is around the corner. And being a Stephen King story, you EXPECT something to jump out at you. I think that the best scene in the halls (as well as one of the scariest in the film) is when Danny is playing on the floor, and a ball rolls slowly up to him. He looks up and sees the long empty hallway, and because the ball is something of a child's toy, you expect that it must have been those horrendously creepy twins that rolled it to him. Anyway, you get the point. The Shining is a damn scary movie.
Besides having the rare quality of being a horror film that doesn't suck, The Shining has a very in depth story that really keeps you guessing and leaves you with a feeling that there was something that you missed. HAD Jack always been there, like Mr. Grady told him in the men's room? Was he really at that ball in 1921, or is that just someone who looks exactly like him? If he has always been the caretaker, as Mr. Grady also said, does that mean that it was HIM that went crazy and killed his wife and twin daughters, and not Mr. Grady, after all? It's one thing for a film to leave loose ends that should have been tied, that's just mediocre filmmaking. For example, The Amityville Horror, which obviously copied much of The Shining as far as its subject matter, did this. But it is entirely different when a film is presented in a way that really makes you think (as mostly all of Kubrick's movies are). One more thing that we can all thank Stanley Kubrick for, and we SHOULD thank him for, is for not throwing this book against the wall. That one toss would have been cinematic tragedy.
When Jack Torrance (Nicholson) is offered a job as winter caretaker for the
Overlook Hotel he accepts it as an opportunity to work on his novel in an
isolated environment. He is told stories of the last caretaker going mad and
butchering his family but isn't deterred. He arrives at the Overlook Hotel
with his wife (Duvall) and child Danny (Lloyd) and is shown around the hotel
by the cook (Scatman Crothers) who has the gift of perception. The cook
warns Danny that the hotel can be of particular danger for those with the
gift. It's only a matter of time before Jack begins to act increasingly
This is one of Jack Nicholson's finest roles, his increasingly unhinged character is amusing and terrifying in almost equal measures. Duvall plays the role of the terrorised wife quite well - she does look like she's genuinely filled with fear - but doesn't have much else to do. Lloyd is excellent as the boy, although he doesn't have too much emotion to express. However no doubt that this is Jack's show.
The story doesn't stick to King's novel and is better for it; this is Kubrick's Shining. The film has plenty of genuinely scary moments but manages to keep a creepy atmosphere all through - especially as the ghosts come out and Jack begins to move between his reality and the reality that is gradually claiming him.
Kubrick is excellent here, his cold direction adds to the overall creep factor of the film. It's one of the best examples of his masterful touch.
Overall this is an excellent horror movie - because the focus is on horror and fear rather than gore alone (as with modern horrors). Jack is excellent in one of his best roles ever and the whole package is delivered in a cold creepy manner by a sadly lost director.
What can I say about the scariest movie I have ever seen that has not
already been said by others more articulate than yours truly? Do not view
this film expecting to see a screen version of the Stephen King novel.
Rather, this is a Stanley Kubrick film, and to fully appreciate it one
should judge it within the context of Kubrick's entire body of work as a
serious filmmaker. Thematically, THE SHINING relates most closely to 2001:
A SPACE ODYSSEY, though flourishes of PATHS OF GLORY, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE and
BARRY LYNDON do manage to figure prominently in the film's overall
In a nutshell (no pun intended), Jack Nicholson and Shelly Duvall co-star with Oregon's Timberline Lodge - enlisted to portray the exterior of the Overlook Hotel - in a story that appears on the surface to be about ghosts and insanity, but deals with issues of child abuse, immortality and duality.
What the film might lack initially in terms of coherence is more than made up for in technique. Garrett Brown (the male voice in those old Molson Golden commercials), inventor of the Steadicam, chases young Danny Lloyd through hotel corridors and an amazing snow maze, providing magic-carpet-ride fluidity to scenes that ten years earlier would have been impossible to accomplish. If the film starts off too slow, remember who the director is. This man likes to take his time, and the results are well worth it: incredible aerial shots of the Overlook Hotel; horrific Diane Arbus-inspired twins staring directly at us; portentous room 237 and its treasure trove of terrible secrets; elevators that gush rivers of blood in slow-motion; Jack Torrance's immortality found via the hotel (akin to David Bowman's journey through the Space Gate); and some of the best use of pre-existing music ever assembled for a motion picture.
It would take a book to examine and defend the film's strong points and drawbacks. If you've never seen it, you owe it to yourself to watch it alone with the lights off, with no interruptions, and make sure that it's raining. This is a cinematic experience that changed my life at the age of 14. Makes a great double feature with Robert Wise's 1963 thriller THE HAUNTING.
Even though The Shining is over a quarter of a century old, I challenge anyone to not get freaked out by Jack Nicholson's descent into madness. This is a rare example of something so unique that no one has been able to rip it off; instead it has been referenced time and again in pop culture. The twins, the elevator of blood, RedRum, the crazy nonsense "writing"... this should be seen, if for nothing else, to understand all the allusions to it in daily life. The film is simultaneously scary, suspenseful, beautiful, and psychologically intriguing. It has the classic mystery of Hitchcock and the terror of a modern thriller. And it has what horror movies usually lack: a great script.
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