Review: The Shining


'The Shining' fits on the list of 'one of those films your parents don't want you to see until they think you're ready', along with the likes of 'The Exorcist', and after watching it you can't really blame them.

Stephen King has been quoted saying that 'The Shining' was not a good adaptation of his novel, of the same name. He also went on to say that this was the only adaptation of his novels that he could remember hating. Quite a big statement considering the film holds an iconic status and is deemed a classic in the horror genre. It's always going to be hard to stay true to the book down to the letter and some content that Stanley Kubrick left out obviously didn't sit too well with King. Personally without reading the book I can't comment, what I can say is that I believe Kubrick has made a solid horror film.

The Shining focuses on a writer called 'Jack Torrance', played by Jack Nicholson who takes a job as an off-season caretaker for a hotel that is isolated in the middle of nowhere. He takes his wife Wendy and his son Danny to stay at the hotel over the winter season. His son has a psychic ability called 'the shining' in which he can see things from the past or future such as ghosts that posses the hotel. As a snow storm isolates the family from the outside world, Jack becomes influenced by a supernatural presence which convinces him that his family needs to die, while Danny keeps seeing flash backs of the hotels horrific past.

From the opening scenes it's clear to see that Kubrick has created the perfect recluse for such a story to unfold. The film starts off with an idyllic scene, as a camera fly's over Jack's car following it further and further in to the distance until he finally reaches the Overlook hotel. This scene alone coupled with the music was really effective. It really gives you that feeling of 'out here nobody will hear you scream!'.

Jack Nicholson's performance as 'Jack' has been a hot topic of debate. Was he too over the top or suitable for the role? Personally I think he was ideal, Nicholson manages to transform everything from his body language, to facial expressions to his whole mannerisms as his mental health deteriorates. He becomes a man on a knife edge and as he deteriorates more and more you just think 'When is he going to snap?!' A mention must go to 'Shelley Duvall' as Wendy as she was just as convincing at being genuinely terrified as Jack is being unbelievably unstable.

In terms of scares there's no real jumps it's more atmosphere and chills throughout, there's a lot of scenes involving Danny's flashbacks which are all quite eerie and obviously Jacks antics keeping the pace of the film very good. Gore is only really used in one scene but it doesn't need anymore. The tension from the minute Jack starts to lose it is immense.

Overall 'The Shining' is a well executed horror, that will always remain a classic.  With Kubrik's sublime setting and the solid cast he had, he has made a pant churner that you yourself will hide from your kids until they are ready! It has a well thought script and some of the dialog is brilliant. Who doesn't know "Here'ssssssssssssss Johnny!!"? Not many! Recommended!

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