Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Film Review: The Shining (1980)

The Shining (Review)
United States/United Kingdom/1980
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No
A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!*

"...a fantastic horror film with many, many layers."

Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) accepts a job as the winter caretaker of the Overlook Hotel -- a secluded hotel that becomes snowed in during the winter. Although he aims to spark his writing career through solitude, his wife, Wendy (Shelley Duvall), and his son, Danny (Danny Lloyd), join him in the Overlook Hotel. But, everything is not what it seems...

The Shining continue to follow Jack as he rapidly loses a grip on his sanity -- he has unbelievable visions, delusions and hallucinations that spark violent reactions; the more time he spends in the hotel, the more his psyche breaks down. At the same time, his psychic son has visions of the past and the future using his special ability to "shine". Meanwhile, Wendy passively observes as her husband snaps and her child suffers from his own powers. The film enters a suspenseful final act as chaos completely erupts and leads to a bone-chilling ending.

The Shining is much more than the traditional horror film. The Shining focuses on its atmosphere and visuals much more than graphic violence or jump-scares. It's a slow-burning creeper, as it masterfully builds up tension and delivers eerie scene after eerie scene. These creepy visuals are brilliantly designed to stay with you long after you view the film -- they are unforgettable. Aside from being downright creepy and accomplishing adequate foreshadowing, the visuals are also drenched in symbolism -- symbolism that is open for interpretation, symbolism that makes you question if something was done deliberately or mistakenly. Regardless, it's a elegant conversational piece of work, whether you're discussing the horror or symbolism. The 2 hour 20 minute runtime really didn't feel bloated, it felt just right thanks to the always engaging visuals and camerawork.

Jack Nicholson is superb from beginning to end; starting as a frustrated yet hopeful character to a frustrated and eccentric character. I enjoyed Shelley Duvall's performance, i think she captures the passive character well, despite overacting a bit during the final act. The soundtrack is very effective and blends well with the subject matter -- it's a haunting musical score that is scary on its own. Stanley Kubrick's direction is phenomenal; he pulls so much from the cast and plot, while implementing wonderfully engaging camerawork and beautiful cinematography to further immerse the audience.

Overall, The Shining is a fantastic horror film with many, many layers. On the surface, you have a masterfully crafted psychological horror film with beautifully terrifying visuals, great suspense, and a haunting ending; looking deeper, and thanks to fan participation, you have a timeless piece of art filled with open-for-interpretation symbolism. A must-watch for all film fans.

Score: 10/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, full nudity.

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