That’s right, I had not seen The Shining before last week and I’m okay with that. Because only in recent years have I started to appreciate horror, and its genre for something other than jump scares and blood splatters. So it seems that it was just the right time for me, to finally watch The Shining.
To give this review a little context, I must admit something. Out of all the movies in my Blindspot list this year, I think I was (prior to watching it) most visually familiar with The Shining. It’s imagery has not only been around the movie community, but there have been numerous memes from it as well. So to say I had no idea what was going to happen, would be a lie. Despite of this though, The Shining still managed to be thrilling and eerie. Is it a perfect film? It’s hard to say, but I did enjoy it a bit more than Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.
First of all, I must praise Stephen King, who published The Shining in 1977. King is one of the most popular authors, but also among the most adapted authors, and his tone shines through the imagery of the film. The supernatural twists, the subtle nuances of a much bigger picture, I can clearly sense the inspiration. I say this with confidence, because Kubrick himself picked up The Shining and just three years later, its adaptation was on the big screen. Though I have seen a few of Kubrick’s films, I already understand why he’s considered one of the greatest. There is simplicity to his direction, yet it’s far from simple. Each element on the screen, each colour choice and sound, it felt familiar, yet oddly different. It worked, and it created a tangible world around the story, that was not as tangible as it might have seemed in the beginning.
– Jack Torrance
Going in, the story and the direction were not the things I was concerned with. It was the acting which I had my reservations about. Jack Nicholson’s Jack Torrance is spot on, just enough charismatic to become frightening. And the scene where he pretty much looses it? Terrifying and yet a little comical, with a balance between the two that makes the performance shine. Danny Lloyd’s Danny though!? Man, that kid had the chops and he didn’t even pursue an acting career after this. I think it was his role to play, and his only, and it’s interesting to know that he was never told he was playing in a horror film.
The weak spot of the film is Shelley Duvall’s Wendy. It’s hard to say what rubbed me the wrong way, but I think it was a bit of everything. Duvall never seemed like a match for Nicholson, the two hardly seemed like a married couple to begin with. Her over the top reactions were a bit too much, and it didn’t feel authentic. There was no build up to her fear, she was frantic and all over the place. Yet she made very sensible decisions! So frankly, I was just very confused by her performance.
Now, the ending. I feel like I’m repeating my 2001: A Space Odyssey review, but at least this time, it might be all King’s fault! Haven’t read the book, nor did I have the time to search the Internet for answers, so I’m not sure, who to blame. The fact that we are shown this image of Jack, in 1921, indicates he’s a ghost, right? But how does it explain he himself doesn’t know it, or how he got to have a family? There are just a lot of unanswered questions, and it’s like I keep torturing myself with these movies that leave a lot unanswered! But to be fair, I still really liked the ending of The Shining!