This is the real deal. From the opening sequence of the car driving further and further into remote landscape The Shining exerts its power over you.
On the surface is a fairly simple narrative: man takes job as winter caretaker at a huge and isolated country hotel in order to get some writing done, brings wife and son, and guess what, there’s something nasty in the woodshed/ballroom/kitchen/room 237/the lifts etc.
However, this doesn’t begin to explain what the film actually consists of. As much as the performances, particularly Jack Nicolson and Shelley Duvall as Jack and Wendy Torrance, are superb, the film seems to be all mood, atmosphere and texture: Waves of blood, huge drifts of snow, endless carpet.
In fact, the most powerful aspect, the thing that gives me shivers up my spine when I think of it, is the different noises Danny’s trike wheels make on the carpet and wooden floors as he endlessly cycles round the Overlook hotel.
It’s hard to put your finger on – why this film stays with you so much. I guess it’s the fact that everything is so subtle.
When you watch the film for the first time, it’s hard to tell what sort of direction it’s going to take. It doesn’t seem immediately horrible, but there is an element of spookiness (the little boy’s telepathy etc).
But as Jack decends into madness, surrounded by ghosts/imaginary people you’re trapped in the film’s grasp until the bitter end.
The feeling of bleak isolation and tension are unrivalled. An excellent example of horror without the need for excessive gore/visuals.
Superb performances, beautiful direction and cinematography and its one of the most frightening films ever committed to celluloid.
Atmospheric and deeply disturbing, no one does mad quite like Jack Nicolson. And no one does horror like Stanley Kubrick.
Additional film information: The Shining (1980)