Scary Movie Review: The Shining (1980)

For Halloween week, I’m watching and reviewing highly-regarded horror films that I’ve never seen before.

TitleThe Shining
Release Date: May 23, 1980
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Production Company: The Producer Circle Company | Peregrine Productions |  Hawk Films

More than Night of the Living Dead, The Shining is a movie harmed by my waiting too long to watch it for the first time after basically absorbing all the movie’s basic plot points and iconic moments over the years from the cultural milieu.  Friends, I have to confess that I found the movie incredibly slow, with long waits for those iconic moments – or anything – to actually happen.  As a story about an ordinary family coming to pieces due to cabin fever and/or malevolent spirits I have to question the casting of Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall who seem eccentric and unsettled from the start.  Danny Lloyd is a terrific child actor though, and carries much of the film, despite playing a character as weird as his parents.

This being a Kubrick film, the cinematography is excellent as well as the set design, and I can understand why film study classes would want to dissect this movie.  The long tracking shots with the steadycam are particularly impressive.  And with so many mirrors on the set, I tip my cap to the camera operators who had to work so hard to not appear in the reflection.

Kubrick is ambiguous about whether this film depicts a mental breakdown or if supernatural forces are involved.  Most of the film would indicate the former, but at the end when Duvall’s Wendy is trying to escape she’s sees a number of ghostly visions as well.  I think the movie works well as a metaphor for toxic masculinity, as Jack and his ghostly advisers repeatedly see a wife and child as something to be controlled and corrected.

I understand that Stephen King dislikes this adaptation and now I really want to read the novel in order to compare and contrast.  In the meantime, enjoy this reenactment by bunnies that passes over all the slow parts.

Or, enjoy Shining, where the movie is reimagined as a heartwarming family comedy.

Rating: ***