Film Review: The Shining

One of the most complete horror movies gets a re-release in time for Halloween. It is a chance for UK audiences to see the original American version for the first time on the big screen.

Jack Torrance and his family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter. Jack sees it as an ideal time to do some writing whilst acting as caretaker of the hotel. A presence in the hotel appears to be effecting Jack, whilst his son Danny sees frightening visions…

Stanley Kubrick’s adaption of Stephen King’s novel is still as effective as ever. The director excels in generating mood. Kubrick manages to complete immerse the audience in the location. This is what makes The Shining work so well. Isolation is portrayed in the most convincing manner.

The narrative of Kubrick’s film is not overly complex. There are a few different elements at play which generate mystery. Jack’s descent is well paced, taking its time in order to make incidents believable. The Shining functions as a psychological horror, although there are other elements of horror present. Jack’s descent is both compelling and disturbing. The film mixes some tense and jumpy moments with the brooding horror of Jack’s state of mind.

The Shining uses music and sound to great effect. The film features some of the most memorable imagery of 20th century cinema. Graphic depictions are employed sparingly, which heightens the shock value. The long shots of Jack’s car driving towards the hotel work well to convey the isolation of the location.

In a career of numerous highs, Jack Nicholson delivers a stand out performance as Jack Torrance. Nicholson comes across as authentic at all times, even in psychotic moments. Shelley Duvall is also strong as wife Wendy, while Danny Lloyd is at times haunting as his namesake.

An undoubted gem of the horror genre, the re-release of The Shining should attract long time admirers and newcomers alike.

The Shining is screening at the BFI Southbank and venues throughout the country from 2nd November 2012, with special previews on 31st October 2012.