This Thanksgiving break I decided to sit down and watch the not so-wholesome family film, The Shining(1980), directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring one of my favorite actors Jack Nicholson. While I had seen the film before ages ago, I wanted to re-watch the film to see if I would have a greater appreciation for the film and not be afflicted with nightmares from the eerie setting of the infamous haunted hotel that is of course built on top of none other than Native American burial ground.
The Shining was Kubrick’s only real dive into the horror genre, but of course like all of Kubrick films, there is strong psychological component to the film. Even more so when the film is considered to be in the “psychological horror” genre. In the film, what in my opinion adds to the suspense and intensity of the film, is the slow paced nature of the film and subtle corruption of the characters. Especially Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) as he resorts back to his old habits of drinking and becomes influenced by the supernatural entities of the hotel.
The filming techniques used in the film, such as when the camera is at the same height level as Danny, Jack’s son, and when we see what Danny is seeing through via his telepathic hallucinations. These scenes truly immerse the viewer into the events unfolding in the hotel. One scene in particular, the famous “Hallway Scene” managed to instill a strong sense of claustrophobia and sensation of entrapment as I watched Danny riding through the halls of the hotel on his tricycle as he encounters visions of the past.
Jack Nicholson of doesn’t fail to deliver an excellent performance of a truly horrifying psychotic husband. As the film progresses and Jack falls deeper and deeper into the clutches of insanity, his outbursts to his wife Wendy escalate from irritation and annoyance when he is interrupted by her when he is writing, to violent outbursts with clear murderous intent, such as the iconic baseball bat scene on the stairs, and of course, when Jack breaks down the bathroom door with an axe.
Overall if you haven’t seen The Shining I highly recommend it. Watching the film is quite an experience and is by far one of my favorite psychological horror films. By the end though, you will be left that familiar feeling of having just gotten off a mental roller coaster, that you get after having watched a Kubrick film.