The Shining is one of my favourite horror films. I mean, I don’t have many at all so that doesn’t mean much, but it’s great! Creepy, spooky, mysterious, a bit scary. Just like horror films should be. They don’t make them like this these days.
The film sees writer Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) and his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and young son Danny (Danny Lloyd) head to the creepy Overlook Hotel to act as caretakers through the winter period when nobody will visit. They’re a pretty dysfunctional family to begin with. Jack accidentally broke Danny’s arm when drunk once, Danny has an imaginary friend who talks through his finger and Wendy just seems a bit passive. And that’s before they get stuck in the haunted hotel!
Despite the hotel being possessed and Danny’s ‘shining’ ability showing him the evil within and the murders committed by a past caretaker, the film is most simply a story on one man slowly going insane. Jack never seems like the most stable person to begin with. We know he’s going to turn crazy, but the fear is just how and when he will crack. As he slowly goes mad, the film gets more and more tense. Just watching Danny ride his toy bike around the halls and not knowing what is round every corner makes for some of the most butt-clenching moments of the movie! And when he turns a corner and there’s some creepy twins there! YIKES!
The film is incredibly well acted. Nicholson is great in pretty much everything he’s in, but somehow he’s even better as a psychopath. A strange compliment to receive I’m sure, but he is so believable and so scary as a human being it’s actually quite disturbing. Seeing cabin fever take over and this man turn on his family, corrupted by his own soul just as much as the evil ghosts of the hotel. That’s the scariest thing of all.
The movie is a masterclass in the slow build, creating tense scene after tense scene. You spend a whole, long scene holding your breath waiting for something to happen and when you breathe because nothing does, the next scene makes you hold it all over again! Real characters drive the story. Somehow knowing what will happen makes it even more tense. When will Jack snap? What will he do to his family? Oh my god it’s just so tense!
JACK’S SCORE: 5/5