Wednesday, February 17, 2010
The Shining (1980)
The Shining was directed by Stanley Kubrick, and is creepy beyond description. It's not your typical horror movie, with moments that make you jump out of your seat. Instead you witness "evil in daylight, through a wide-angle lens", as Pauline Kael puts it. And that sounds spot on to me. There's no actual darkness in this movie, the scenes are well lit. The darkness is in Jack Torrance's mind, which in turn is put into the audiences mind.
The plot: Jack Torrance applies for a job as caretaker of the Overlook Hotel. The hotel is in an isolated part of the country where the severe weather conditions make it unfeasable to run during winter as the roads are blocked for several months. Jack is a writer, and sees this as an ideal opportunity to work on his novel in peace and quiet. At the interview, Jack is informed that the previous caretaker,Delbert Grady, got cabin fever, and killed his wife and two daughters. Jack, however, is not put off by this. He brings his wife Wendy(Shelley Duvall) and son Danny(Danny Lloyd) along with him. During their stay at the hotel Jack goes mad, and Danny sees visions of the terrifying events that have taken place in the hotel. Danny has Extrasensory perception. He can see past and future events, as well as talk to people directly into their mind with thought, known as "shining". Madness follows.
The best thing about this movie is Kubrick's direction. His films are generally great to look at, he being a photography enthusiast and all. The cinematography is superb. You also get the feeling that this is not a horror film, but a Kubrick film. What HE finds most frightening, is what see in this film. As Stephen King commented, Kubrick missed at great opportunity at a "jump out of your seat moment" when Jack discovers Wendy going through his written work. "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" is written out line after line, page after page. Instead of that "out of you seat" shock, Kubrick allows Jack to enter the frame before the payoff of Wendy being frightened out of her senses. The horror is in the awareness of evil. It never jumps out at you. Evil hangs around for the entire scene.
Jack Nicholson in my opinion may have gone overboard with his acting. Alot of people have commented on the fact that at the start of the movie, you had the feeling that his character was very near the edge to begin with. I'd have liked to have seen him tone down the craziness at the start. And some of his weird behaviour later on seemed a bit too obviously "acted". I didn't "believe" some of it. But there are scenes however which I think that he is great in.
The scariest thing about this movie in my opinion is Shelley Duvall who plays Wendy. I don't know about anyone else but I would HATE to be stuck in an isolated hotel with her. Wendy is downright creepy. Overall this film is fantastic. To me, it's pure horror. What really frightens me, is exactly what I see in this film. The thought of the two little girls standing at the end of a hallway saying to Danny "Come and play with us, forever and ever" scares the absolute shit out of me. This is a must see film. By the way, I liked the shorter version better. The added scenes in the longer version were ok, but nothin special.