The Shining (1980)


A writer and his family move into a secluded mountainside hotel to act as caretakers for the winter, but a presence inhabiting it causes his mental disintegration leading to the urge for bloody murder.

I’m not a fan of Stephen King, but Stanley Kubrick stripped away the hokey nonsense of the original novel and created a masterclass in haunting imagery and suspense. In fact, the supernatural elements of the story are almost irrelevant. The horror lies in the subtext of domestic violence; it’s difficult to see a plaid wearing, balding middle-aged man as a terrifying monster and Jack Nicholson is hardly the most physically formidable presence. But in the classic scene in which he finally snaps, it is easy to see why waif-like Shelly Duvall – or anyone like her – would be incredibly intimidated. Without resorting to unnecessary gore Kubrick’s visuals are disturbingly intense and complimented by one of the eeriest soundtracks ever written, the sense of unease is as creepy and atmospheric as any created. Far from being dated, compared to what passes for “horror” these days The Shining has actually improved with age.

Yet another example of Kubrick being Jack of all trades and master of all.



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