"Some places are like people: some shine and some don't."
I'm ashamed to admit that despite being a film buff I never got around watching The Shining. As a matter of fact the only Kubrick film I've seen is 2001 A Space Odyssey, which I thought was brilliant. I tried to watch A Clockwork Orange, but never managed to finish it. I'm not a huge Kubrick fan but I do need to watch his films. The Shining is one of those movies that I wish I would have seen years ago because it really hasn't aged too well and after seeing so many horror films I've realized how much they took from this film. That is why perhaps I felt the film to be very predictable, but there is no denying that this film influenced the horror genre during the last three decades and continues to do so. The film was adapted from Stephen King's novel, a writer which I'm not a huge fan of either (although I loved Misery). I guess that having watched The Amityville Horror before this, kind of ruined the suspense for me, but there is no denying that Jack Nicholson's performance was magnificent here during his psychotic transformation. That "Here's Johnny" scene is such a classic and it is proof that Kubrick knows his craft. He is a perfectionist and it comes through in his direction. The problem I had with this film is that the ghost story really didn't work for me and some of the scenes felt really cheesy. The imagery in this film however is technically brilliant and there is no denying why this film has become a classic.
Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) is a failed writer who is trying to find inspiration for his next novel. He is offered a job as the winter caretaker at an isolated hotel in Colorado and he realizes it would be the perfect place for his writing project. He decides to settle in the hotel along with his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and his son Danny (Danny Lloyd) who has some sort of a psychic ability known as the shining. Before the employees of the hotel leave for the winter season they warn Jack to stay away from Room 237 where a terrible murder took place several decades ago. The first person to have terrible visions of the place is Danny, but soon the rest of the family realizes that they aren't the only ones in the hotel. The place begins to take its toll on Jack who slowly begins to go through some sort of transformation that puts the life of his wife and child at risk.
The Shining sets a perfect background for a horror story and Kubrick takes advantage of the screenplay and gives us some spectacular visuals. The symmetry of the images, the inclusion of the color red in most of the scenes, the impressive and claustrophobic maze and hotel corridors set the tone and mood of the film. My main issue had to do with the ghost story and the entire "shining" thing with Danny. Narratively speaking the film has many flaws, but technically it is very well crafted. The only performance I enjoyed here was Jack Nicholson's, but the rest of the cast wasn't really up to par with the movie. I do have to admit that the soundtrack was thrilling. If you leave out the entire ghost thing and realize this really has to do with how isolation can often turn into madness you will appreciate Kubrick's work even more. However, as a horror film this really never managed to scare me or make me feel uneasy so it doesn't really succeed in that level.