Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Oh, The Horror! #40: The Shining

I know I've seen this before but I don't recall ANYTHING about it. But I finally bought the DVD and watched this a few nights ago and wow... just wow. This is a horror film. This is my type of horror movie. A lot of people know that my favorite horror is the one that focuses on the mind, the psychological horror sub-genre is my absolute favorite of the horror-verse, The Innocents being my absolute favorite horror film. The Shining, directed by legend Stanley Kubrick, is an automatic hit with me and is a classic from beginning to end. If you're a horror fan and haven't seen this film, what are you waiting for?

The story follows Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) who has been hired to watch over an over-sized hotel for the winter while he gets space and time to write his novel. Along with him is his wife, Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and son, Danny (Danny Lloyd). Early on we discover Jack's previous drinking issues along with Danny's imaginary friend, Tony. Danny also seems to possess an ability referred to as The Shining, which we discover from the hotel's chef, Dick Hallorann (Scatman Crothers). It seems with these abilities, Danny can see things from the past and things that are going to happen, these things mostly being bad things. Jack is told by the manager of the hotel about the last family that stayed in the hotel and how the father went crazy and killed his wife and children with an axe then killed himself. Jack tells the manager that there's nothing to worry about and that he and his family are thrilled. Though I wouldn't quite say that as Danny starts to see weird visions of two creepy little girls asking to play with him and a hall way being filled with blood. As the months pass by, Jack slowly begins to get grumpier as he attempts to finish his story and gets incredible terrifying around Wendy who just wants to be a loving wife, so it's completely frightening when Wendy begins to fight for her life when Jack finally loses it through push from the weird supernatural elements in the hotel.

Wonderfully shot and directed, the musical score throughout is completely masterful and lends really well to this creepy masterpiece. The performances are all top-notch, my favorite being from Shelley Duvall as the very sympathetic and loving Wendy as you wonder if she'll lose her mind when both her child and husband start to crack in this mysterious hotel. Now the movie isn't without it's faults. The only fault I have with the film was that I felt a lot of beats and pieces to the story were missing. Time just goes by and we see the passage of time, but I just wish we got to see more. Jack's transformation seems to almost come out of left field although there's signs of it through gradual build up from the beginning of the movie. Also, reading how much King dislikes this film and seeing a lot of story sub-plots that was excluded for this film does make me ponder, but excluding all that other stuff, the film stands completely well on it's own. My favorite type of horror film indeed.

1 comment:

Will Errickson said...

"Jack's transformation seems to almost come out of left field..."

You're right about that. I saw The Shining recently for the first time in *years* and that struck me--when he gets so angry at Wendy for disturbing him when he's trying to write. I don't know if it was the editing or intentional or what, but even with the early notes of unease with his character, I felt Jack snapped too quickly. Still, overall, a masterful horror film, just as you state.