The Shining (1980): A Genre Classic

With it being the Halloween season, I thought we should all get into the spirit by reviewing a horror classic, The Shining! As always, the review will be spoiler free.

Background

The Shining is directed by Stanley Kubrick and stars Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall.  Jack Torrance (Nicholson) is a disgruntled writer that is looking to escape his writer’s block caused by his home life by becoming the caretaker of the very ominous Overlook Hotel.  Upon starting his job there, Jack finds out that the previous caretaker went insane and slaughtered his family.  After Jack receives this terrifying information, things begin to take a horrific turn as things spiral out of control at the secluded hotel.

the shining

image via Bloody Disgusting!

Background…Continued

Obviously, Stanley Kubrick is one of the most revered directors of all time.  Coming off creating classics such as A Clockwork Orange and 2001: A Space Odyssey, Kubrick was in prime form as a director coming into The Shining.  What I’ve really admired about his work is how much devotion he gives to his characters.  No matter the genre of the film, whether it’s a hardcore war movie such as Full Metal Jacket or a trippy sci-fi movie like 2001: A Space Odyssey, the film is always a grounded character study full of emotions and psychology.

Kubrick was probably a psychologist in a last life with the way he dissects the human mind.  His movies are tense, thought-provoking, and just downright creepy.  These traits really match well to create a well-made horror movie.  Plus, when you add an all-time great actor like Jack Nicholson to the mix, you have a sure hit.  Kubrick movies really take their time setting up each character which can sometimes cause for a slow, and sometimes boring, first act.  With The Shining clocking in with an approximate two and a half hour run time, I made sure to get cozy and stick through the beginning to reap the results of act two and three.

the shining

image via Bloody Disgusting!

What I Liked

In typical Kubrick fashion, The Shining is a slow burn that turns into an out of control forest fire.  I’d first like to sing the praise of Jack Nicholson’s performance as he was absolutely perfect casting for the role of Jack Torrance.  Nicholson has always had the ability to act very menacing and sometimes just downright insane in his movies.  He contorts his face into the creepiest expressions, which obviously plays well in this movie.

What I Didn’t Like

Unfortunately for Shelley Duvall, her performance seems very poor at times when compared to Nicholson, mostly because his descent into madness is so magnetic and creepy.  There’s something paradoxical about Nicholson on screen in that his performance is so mesmerizing that you don’t want to take your eyes off him but yet he’s so terrifying that you want to duck under your bed covers to avoid looking at him altogether.

the shining

image via CinemaBlend

What I Liked…Continued

Creepy is a good way to explain this movie in general.  Kubrick’s direction style oozes off the screen.  Like his other films, Kubrick utilizes a ton of long shots which, in the case of The Shining, amplifies the feeling of dread as you as the viewer wait on pins and needles for something scary to occur.  Sometimes, nothing even happened!  But the combination of long, focused shots and swelling creepy music consume you with dread and fear as you wait for the ultimate scare that eventually occurs.

Kubrick uses genuinely scary and tense imagery rather than jump scares or any other horror gimmick.  I’m so conditioned to the modern day horror movie that has cheap scares that the genuine chilling nature of The Shining really stuck with me even after finishing the film to the point where I may or may not have been afraid to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night after watching it.

the shining

image via pcmh.co

The Shining is a cultural phenomenon that has influenced horror ever since its release in 1980.  It has been parodied countless which speaks only to its significance in cinema.  But for all its scares, The Shining lives on for its sense of paranoia and its look into the human psyche through intense isolationism.  Kubrick vividly displays how man can be driven into madness simply by being secluded with the addition of some spooky images, even if the movie itself deviates from Stephen King’s famous novel, but let’s not open that can of worms.

Conclusion

The Shining is an all-time classic not only in the horror movie genre, but in film in general.  Because of its achievements as a film (and also its ability to scare the crap out of me), The Shining gets an A.

Thank you so much for reading!  I’ll have some more reviews out of new releases later this week along with another top ten list!  But please continue to send in your own review request!  Whether it’s old or new, the choice is up to you!

Nick Kush

A current college student, Nick founded MovieBabble in October of 2016 in order to grow his own movie knowledge as well as share his own thoughts with others in a streamlined fashion. As MovieBabble continues to grow, Nick hopes to one day become a reputable critic that many turn to first for a quality movie review.

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5 Responses

  1. It’s funny you mentioned Shelley Duvall’s performance being lacking, because I wrote a paper on New Hollywood and The Shining and one of my highlights was about Duvall’s performance being surprisingly good since she was able to stand up to Nicholson’s performance.

    I just find it interesting how different opinions are sometimes.

    Great review!

  2. snfloore says:

    I really enjoyed your review! Kubrick is just incredible at what he does. I agree that the environment he makes is so creepy. It’s funny, how a creepy feeling can last longer than an outright scare. There’s a YouTube video that actually talks about that feeling. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dv8KroxoAhk&t=552s

  1. May 10, 2017

    […] *To read my full review of The Shining, please click here. […]

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