The Shining (1980)
Directed by: Stanley Kubrick. Written by: Stanley Kubrick and Diane Johnson based on the novel by Stephen King.
Plot: A not-quite-happy family goes to live in an isolated hotel in the mountains over the winter when the dad (Jack Nicholson) gets a job as the caretaker. The hotel was built on an Indian Burial Ground, one of the previous caretakers butchered his wife and two young daughters there a few years before and no one can get in or out of the area for a period of about six months or something. Eventually, Jack lets the claustrophobia, writer’s block, alcoholism, his obnoxious wife (Shelley Duvall) and his own imagination get to him and things progress logically.
Also, the little boy (Danny Lloyd) has weird visions and a little man named Tony lives in his mouth and tells him to do things and has very little to do with anything. So. There's a haunted house, an axe murderer, a psychotic child and the threat of potentially starving or freezing to death. Overkill much?
Review: The first time I saw this movie, I would have been probably twelve and thought it was pretty creepy. I watched it again last year and it just seemed sort of hilarious and long almost to the point of cruelty (I will take this moment to say I have not seen the Stephen King approved version which is a mini-series and runs about four and a half hours).
However, there are three important factors for me which are integral to the greatness of this movie (whatever the fuck that means. Disregard the next six paragraphs, I have no idea what I'm talking about).
First: Stanley Kubrick had mad skills. I don't really like his movies all that much because I find them extremely obnoxious, however, I must admit that the way in which his movies are put together is generally bitchin and in this particular film, he manages to achieve a sense of total isolation which makes it seem almost natural that Jack Torrence would go crazy. It also means that it’s full of really creepy British people, in particular Philip Stone as the ghost of the former caretaker (“I corrected them”).
Second: Shelley Duvall is amazing. Her character is sort of irritating but believable and she’s just really good, and is the best actor in the movie. She’s just really convincing and, though she should really bug the hell out of me, I find myself sympathizing with her. I mean, the poor woman ending up getting married to this guy who probably seemed hot at the time but turned into a major asshole. Which brings me to…
Third: Jack Nicholson, though he overacts and is generally ridiculous in this, is still really creepy. And not in a psychotic way. He’s a scary fucking guy way before he goes crazy just because he’s such a major asshole. In fact, he seems like less of an asshole when he’s trying to kill his family because at least he’s not just shouting at them and being a jerk. Honestly, I'd rather have a guy go after me with an axe than act like your every day dick. At least it's different.
Also, Scatman Crothers is really cool.
Favourite Part: The bit where Scatman Crothers shows Shelley Duvall and Danny Lloyd around the kitchen.
Scatman - What’s your favourite flavour of ice cream, doc?
Danny - Chocolate.
Scatman - Then chocolate it shall be!
I wish that guy was my uncle or something. That would rock.
Other versions: The novel was adapted as the aforementioned miniseries scripted by the King in 1997.
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