In this column, Zofia Wijaszka reviews forgotten, underrated, and “hidden gems” horror films that deserve new audience’s attention and post-watch conversation. The Terror Comeback’s goal is to celebrate the horror genre, both in the cinema and on television.
The Shining Review: A Terrifying Character Study and One of the Most Elaborate Stephen King’s Film Adaptations
The Shining, directed by Stanley Kubrick, is without a doubt one of the most iconic horror classics. Based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name, the picture is a complex character study, a thrilling thriller, and an amazing horror story all in one. With an out-of-this-world cast, The Shining remains a cult film, even after 44 years and it’s ideal for a cold winter evening.
When Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) is hired as a winter caretaker at the remote Overlook Hotel in Colorado, he expects it will relieve his stress and help him overcome his severe writer’s block. When the season starts, Jack relocates to the hotel with his wife, Winifred, aka Wendy (Shelley Duvall), and their son, Danny (Danny Lloyd), who grapples with psychic visions. As Jack’s work stagnates and Danny’s visions get increasingly disturbing, the family gradually uncovers the hotel’s terrible secrets. But that’s not all. The hotel’s dark story begins to hurt Jack, who slowly turns into a madman set on causing harm to his family.
With an out-of-this-world cast, “The Shining” remains a cult film, even after 44 years and it’s ideal for a cold winter evening.
The Shining’s narrative is separated by the different chapters to better illustrate the hotel’s impact on the Torrance family. Staring with The Opening, then The Interview, and The Closing Date, the movie proceeds to resume the chapters as the days of the week and, ultimately, hours. It’s a helpful way to illustrate Jack’s descent into madness. As the last guests leave the Overlook, everything quiets down, while Jack’s mind gets louder. Danny, too, becomes more agitated and plagued with the visions and his imaginary friend, Tony. Kubrick successfully illustrates the changes in Jack and Danny, while portraying increasing fear and concern in Wendy.
It’s undeniable that The Shining’s cast ensemble is one of the best in film history. Jack Nicholson plays his character, Jack Torrance, to perfection. The actor famed for Wolf or The Witches of Eastwick, amongst many more, expertly portrays one character’s steady descent into psychosis. His counterparts, Duvall and Lloyd, are just as intriguing. As Danny, the young actor contrasts with his father; Jack can see the spirits of the Overlook, yet he lets them seduce him and finally ruin him. But Danny represents someone with the titular “shining” who, even at an early age and possibly unknowingly, chooses to understand it with the fleeting assistance of Mrs. Hallorann (Scatman Crothers). Lloyd does an excellent job of showing the young character’s depth, particularly during times of dread.
Last but not least, the third of the leading trio, Duvall, is, too, an integral and heartbreaking part of The Shining. Her character, Wendy, is forced to put up with Jack’s verbal and, later, physical abuse, but the woman eventually stands up to him to save Danny and herself and get them out of the Overlook. Her storyline is particularly noteworthy because it addresses issues such as domestic violence and alcohol abuse. Both Nicholson and Duvall exemplify abusive dynamics between a husband and a wife and the negative impact it has on the child.
The Shining remains one of those films that impact many, in one way or another. You can watch it several times and still discover something new each time. The creators make certain that every component, whether it’s a fantastic, unforgettable soundtrack, stunning set design, or intricate character development, is meticulously crafted. The Shining is a multilayered film with societal components that can be reflected in the present world. Impressive acting, skillful directing, and blood-curdling writing further add to the harmonic yet disturbing whole, making Kubrick’s picture a horror story for all generations.
Jack Torrance accepts a caretaker job at the Overlook Hotel, where he, along with his wife Wendy and their son Danny, must live isolated from the rest of the world for the winter. But they aren't prepared for the madness that lurks within.