Posted on: October 23, 2020 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, “The Shining” is regarded as one of the best horror films of all time. The strange part about that statement is how polarizing this film was back when it first came out. Much like “The Empire Strikes Back,” critics didn’t know what to think of this movie at first. It was even nominated for two Razzies, one for worst director and worst actress, which is mind blowing because there really isn’t much wrong with the film. This is a prime example of a movie that wasn’t received well at first but then slowly over time it garnered a following and became iconic. 

Andrew Pahl

Movie Reviewer

“The Shining” was directed by Stanley Kubrick, starring Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance, Shelly Duvall as Wendy Torrance, and Danny Lloyd as Danny Torrance. The film is about Jack Torrance, former teacher and aspiring writer, taking the caretaker job at the Overlook Hotel while it is shut down during winter seasons. He brings his family to the hotel and soon after, when they are left alone without any contact to the outside world, the hotel seems to rip families’ minds apart. 

The premise of this movie is spectacular. The great thing about horror in limited locations is that it forces the writers/directors to be creative and use as much of the locations as possible to bring the most out of the plot. We see the characters explore the hotel through the months, and we see how each reacts to the place. What makes this movie great is also the type of horror used in it. There are many types of fans in the horror genre: slasher, only interested in the kills, haunted house fanatics, gore based, trap based, and psychological. This film plays with psychological horror beautifully. If you are a fan of this kind of horror, this is most definitely at the top of your list for favorite scary movies.

This seems like an ordinary family at first with minor problems, which most people have, but it soon becomes eerie and a sinister feeling comes across as you watch this family, specifically Jack, tear each other apart. Just observing Jack’s mind break over time is just astounding to see. What makes the plot even more intriguing is the fact that Danny has a unique ability known as “shining”, which allows him to see things and communicate with others who have the same ability. Kubrick also understands how to keep the audiences engaged while also feeding them new information. He ramps up the tension throughout till it boils over into an outstanding 3rd act.

What some horror fans might appreciate about the ending of the movie is that it is very ambiguous. Kubrick knows how to craft a film that every time you see it, you find something new. Therefore, you can create your own theories then talk to someone else and they can have a completely different perspective. 

The acting across the board is great. Jack’s performance is magnetic, as his mind begins to warp overtime he begins to become outlandish and we get great subtle changes of his character throughout. Shelly Duvall gets much hate for her portrayal as Wendy. It is known that she wasn’t treated well on set by Kubrick and you can question his methods on how he brings the most out of his actors. Nevertheless, Duvall absolutely nails the uneasiness and trauma she carries with her from this relationship. Not everything is picture perfect in life, and I’m glad that Kubrick had her portrayal more grounded. Danny is also still top contender for best child performance ever given. He is endearing while also intelligent. 

Some of the best parts of this movie are the technical aspects. The opening scene alone has tracking shots across a lake and over a car traveling through the mountain rode and it is by far some of the best camera work I have ever seen. The score is haunting and abrupt, it really adds to the isolated atmosphere and the shear horror the family is going through. Even the sound editing with Danny riding his bike around the hall on carpets and wood floor is amazing. Most wouldn’t notice, but this is definitely a show of craftsmanship. 

There really is nothing more I can say about this film. It has been talked about so much to the point where there is a documentary called “Room 237”, in which it explores many conspiracy theories regarding Kubrick. This is by far one of the best psychological thrillers ever created and it most definitely deserves 5 out of 5 stars. I would also recommend you watch the underrated sequel that came out last year, “Doctor Sleep.” These films are both similar in the sense that there is more of psychological thrills rather than the cheap over played “jump scares.”