Review: The Shining

In Cinemas Now

Directed by Stanley Kubrick

Starring Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd, Scatman Crowthers

Taking a winter caretaker’s job at a shuttered hotel, writer Jack Torrance falls under the spell of the hotel’s ghosts and terrorises his wife and child…

The Shining is one of those movies that has worked its spell over time. I wasn’t that impressed when I first saw it (probably on TV), especially as it was a Stanley Kubrick film. I’d never read the book, but the movie wasn’t all that scary…

However, it is a film whose meaning and effect sinks into you on repeated viewings, especially after becoming a parent. For a film I thought I didn’t like that much, I’ve found myself watching it whenever it turned up on TV. This current re-release offers a chance to see the movie again on the big screen, with the bonus of additional scenes not originally included in the UK cinema release (although ITV once screened this version in error). It’s been available on Blu-ray for a while, though.

The atmosphere of the Overlook hotel and the nature of young Danny’s telepathic abilities (‘the shining’ of the title) are two elements that make The Shining an unsettling film to watch. The breakdown of Nicholson’s Jack Torrance is hardly subtle, and neither is Shelley Duvall’s over-the-top hysteria. Between those two, though, is young Danny Lloyd. He gives a great performance, where he is not necessarily frightened by things like the appearance of the ghostly twins, but more fascinated. He has Scatman Crowthers as a kind of mentor, but even his explanations of what’s going on are sketchy.

Therein lies the continued attraction and fascination with The Shining. It is a subtly bizarre film open to multiple interpretations (as current documentary Room 237 proves). The ending is enigmatic, so the viewer has to return to the movie over and over in the hope that one more viewing will see it yield up its secrets.

Verdict: Unsettling, rather than scary, The Shining grows in power through re-watching, 8/10

Brian J. Robb


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