Stephen King, the Master of Horror, is the author of some of the best horror novels-turned-Halloween movie classics over the years.
“The Shining” was released in 1980 and is an iconic King story, alongside “It” and “Children of the Corn.” The movie adaptation — currently available for viewing on HBO Max — follows Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance, who moves with his family to be the winter caretaker at the Overlook Hotel. The hotel has a bloody past, which eventually starts to infiltrate and terrorize Jack’s mind.
“The Shining” was directed by Stanley Kubrick, who is known for a very distinctive production style, dedicating many scenes in this film to explain the time of the events on-screen or when multiple days pass. “Introduction,” “Saturday” and “4 p.m.” are several title cards which takeover the screen in a blunt and bland way that pushes the storyline along. Kubrick also loves to emphasize suspenseful situations or make the audience feel uncomfortable through music. The eerie music that immediately starts the film is paired with beautiful landscape shots of Colorado, and Kubrick intentionally magnifies what is underneath the beauty by making the audience extremely uncomfortable. The music’s intended purpose is to raise anxiety, and it does just that. Over time, the music gets quite annoying, and some dialogue would be a welcome filler.
The film doesn’t necessarily fit the “horror” title. “The Shining” most likely received its R rating due to the less than 10-minute scene with full-frontal nudity, but other than that, there is not much gore or scare. The film is more creepy than anything else, which definitely relies on the dialogue in the beginning, or else the plotline can be misunderstood.
The beginning of the film centers around Jack and his wife Wendy, played by Shelley Duvall, and would have benefitted from showing them more as a couple rather than individuals. The whole story idea rests on the characters as a family, and it would have emphasized their relationships later in the film if there were a greater connection between Torrance and Wendy. Torrance is incredibly crass and emotionally abusive to his wife. The point is to show that Torrance himself is not mentally stable, but it would have come across better if their relationship were emphasized more in the beginning. There wasn’t any scene dedicated to showing Torrance and Wendy as a more loving and average couple, and adding one could’ve helped the audience better understand that it is the location — the hotel — that is driving Torrance insane.
Kubrick is an absolutely fantastic filmmaker. Kubrick’s film “2001: A Space Odyssey” is the go-to movie every film professor likes to study and introduce to students. “The Shining” showcases his great mind, but not everybody can admire his style. “Ready Player One,” directed by Steven Spielberg, references the film in about 20 minutes by using the most iconic and exciting parts of “The Shining,” which might come across as more interesting than the original.
There are some moments where the film feels slow and the audience is waiting around for the next “ah ha” moment. Whether to analyze and discuss the deep meanings with friends or just as a go-to film for Halloween movie nights, “The Shining” is the film to watch. It’s not a thrilling murder movie like “Saw” or a chilling possessive film like “The Conjuring.” “The Shining” deserves the title of classic, but enjoyment of the film is entirely dependent on the type of viewer.