31 Days of Terror - 'The Shining'
31 Days of Terror will cover a wide array of horror films leading up to Halloween. We'll be posting our thoughts and feelings on some of our favorites every day for the next 31 days. If your favorite doesn't make it, it doesn't mean we don't like it, so speak up in the comments below!
While Stanley Kubrick's The Shining wasn't received all that well upon release, and was even derided by Stephen King himself; the film has since clawed its way to the top of the horror pack. The Shining is an exercise in mounting dread and nail-biting, slow-burning terror that follows a man's descent into madness. It's one of the best and scariest horror movies put to film.
Stanley Kubrick's The Shining follows Jack Torrance who, with his family, are tasked with keep up the Overlook Hotel during the snowy winter season. What they don't know is that the hotel has a dark past. The previous caretaker came down with cabin fever and murdered his entire family.
Atmosphere is everything in this film. The Overlook hotel is one of the most effectively scary places to stage a horror film and having it take place during the winter when no one else is around is absolutely genius. Kubrick intentionally shot the hotel in a way where it seems disorienting and you can never quite tell where you are. This helps the viewer get into the mind of Jack Torrance as he slowly goes mad. He becomes more than just a crazy person, he's a character you care about and can understand why he went insane.
I also love how this film subtly build up its scares. You never know what's going to await any of the characters around each corner. There's a physical threat in the from of Jack Torrance, and then there are more supernatural threats that make their appearances known when the audience is at their most vulnerable. The scares also come naturally and are never shoved in your face like so many other director's like to do.
Jack Nicholson is amazing here as Jack Torrance. There's almost a sense of humor to his downward spiral that keeps you invested in the character. Torrance could have easily been an uninteresting character had he had been played by a weaker actor. When he really lets loose towards the end, you are legitimately scared of what he's capable of doing. There's crazy, and then there's Jack Nicholson's version of crazy. You look into his eyes and all you see is pure, unbridled insanity, and it can be terrifying, especially when he's coming at our protagonists wielding an ax.
The Shining is an excellent exercise is atmospheric horror. The setting and photography are spot-on and give Jack Nicholson free-reign to go absolutely, terrifyingly nuts. REDRUM!