HOLLYWOOD—My trend of exploring horror that hasn’t been on my radar is continuing just in time for Halloween, and this one is a good one to say the least. How so? I’m referring to the 1980 classic directed by the great Stanley Kubrick. Any guesses as to what movie I’m referring to? It is “The Shining.” Yes, it might be hard to believe, but I have never seen “The Shining” starring the great Jack Nicholson in its entirety. It had nothing to do with fear, I think it just happened to be a movie that didn’t grab my attention, until I actually sat down and watched it in its full scope from start to finish.
That is the problem with so many movie classics; I tend to catch them 45 minutes to an hour after the movie has already started. That does not work in most situations because I’m lost in most cases because I’m not fully versed as to what has transpired. However, with “The Shining” the focus is on a hotel at a Colorado resort that just so happens to be haunted by ghosts. There is some real-life mystery behind this horror tale if you dig deep into the history of the flick or the notion of haunted places throughout the country.
At its core, so many people think “The Shining” is a ghost story, but I found the flick to be about sanity. What happens when a sane person loses their sanity and fractures from reality? That is what we see with writer Jack Torrance played with perfection by Nicholson. Nicholson is one of my favorite actors of all time because his ability to ad-lib and just deliver acting that sends chills down the spine or gives you goosebumps is amazing. Just watch that scene where Jack confronts his wife, Wendy (Shelley Duvall) about always focusing on their son and forgetting about him.
You feel Jack’s rage, his anger, his frustration; it’s palatable and scary as hell. Now on the flipside, I could not stand Duvall in this role. I felt like all she did was whine and moan the entire damn movie. It drove me crazy literally crazy. I’m not sure if that was the aim of the character, or Kubrick didn’t care enough to pull more from his actress for such an important role in my opinion. This tends to happen in most horror flicks: you always have a character that you hate more than anything, and for me in “The Shining” it was Wendy, which is odd because we’re supposed to be rooting for her survival.
There is also another important player in “The Shining” in Danny (Danny Lloyd), who is clairvoyant and can communicate with those souls lost in the hotel during a dark time. While Jack is the antagonist of the flick, Danny is actually the protagonist. It is his actions that propel a vast majority of the narrative as we navigate through the mayhem that is a slow build-up. That is the fun aspect of “The Shining,” the slow tension that builds with each frame, each moment and the terror is not physically in your face, it is more psychological.
Yes, this horror flick plays with your mind and causes you to think and wonder what actually happened inside this hotel. Why is Jack losing his mind? What really happened in room 237? You have more questions posed than answers given, which I love in horror. You don’t want the answers to everything because when you learn the truth it impacts the overall impact of the movie.
“The Shining” is not one of those movies that oozes dread like some classic horror of the 80s. It’s a thinker flick and the more you think about it the scarier it becomes. It really forces you to think about where you live and what perhaps transpired on the land or inside the home, apartment, hospital or school that you visit on a daily basis.