Director Stanley Kubrick (“2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Full Metal Jacket”) released “The Shining.” in 1980. Based on the book of the same name by author Stephen King, “The Shining” initially received mixed opinions from critics and did not perform well at the box office.
Over the years the film has been re-evaluated by critics and is now regarded as one of horror’s most important films. On Oct. 28 and Oct. 31, “The Shining” will be shown at the Grand Theatre as part of their “Flashback Cinema” program.
The film stars Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd and Scatman Crothers. Nicholson plays Jack Torrance, a struggling writer who takes a job as the caretaker of the Overlook Hotel during the building’s winter break. The only occupants are him, his wife played by Shelley Duvall and son played by Danny Lloyd.
From there, the film portrays a tale of isolation at its worst. As “The Shining” progresses, Jack starts losing his mind and becomes abusive toward his wife and son. Meanwhile, Danny experiences horrible visions of him and his mom being chopped to pieces by his father.
Although considered a horror movie, “The Shining” relies more on atmosphere and setting to set the mood, rather than pure horror. That’s not to say there are scares and gores, but the movie is at its creepiest when the camera moves around from hallway to hallway, slowly luring the audience into its grasp before hitting them with moments of shocking imagery.
Jack Nicholson is excellent as Jack Torrance. Yet, one of the problems is that from the get-go, we see Torrance is an eccentric individual, so the transition into a deranged killer is pretty quick.
That said though, he is terrifying when he becomes a full-on psychopath trying to hunt down his family and chop them into pieces. Part of the mystery in “The Shining” is whether or not this is all in Jack’s mind, or if the causes are more supernatural. Without going into too many plot details, but the movie suggests that it’s a little of both.
While the film holds up well and is an excellent picture, the pacing can get really slow. Not a whole lot happens during the middle portion of the movie, which drags, and considering “The Shining” is two hours and 40 minutes, some of that runtime could have been devoted to fleshing out the characters more.
As an adaptation of the book, “The Shining” does deviate a bit from its source material, so much so that writer Stephen King has a love/hate relationship with the movie. He realizes the film’s importance to horror but felt it wasn’t the best adaptation of his work. Although there was a miniseries that was more faithful to the novel, it lacked the suspense and memorability of its film counterpart.
Over 38 years have passed since the release of “The Shining,” and it is still one of the horror genre’s finest efforts. Director Stanley Kubrick hit it out of the park with this film, and though it can be slow, the engaging performances, creepy and shocking visuals, and foreboding sense of dread and paranoia solidify this movie’s status as an iconic film. Those who have not seen this masterpiece must do so during the film’s limited run at the Grand Theatre.