With the rise special effects in horror movies and the decline of psychological thrillers, many fans turn to classic horror films for entertainment. The Shining, a 1980 thriller, combines the story of a fathers descent into madness with that of an eerily haunted hotel to create a terrifying thriller which cannot easily be forgotten, even by viewers today. With a budget of 15 million, Stanley Kubrick, the director of the film, produces a classy yet terrifying approach to the horror genre, mixing a tasteful amount of special effects with exemplary musical scores and unique cinematography. Jack Nicolson and Shelley Duvall play the mother and father (Jack and Wendy Torrance) of young Danny Torrance, played by Danny Lloyd. All three deliver the chilling performance of a family touched by true evil.
Before seeing this film I expected stunning performances from all angles, but nothing could have prepared me for the 2 hours of terror the movie elicits. The story follows Jack and Wendy Torrance as Jack becomes the wintertime caretaker of an old hotel, hoping to cure his writers block with some solitude. They barely have time to settle in before the events begin. As they enter the hotel, Danny meets a head chef, who he has an interesting conversation with. Interesting because it was telepathic. Without speaking, the chef warns Danny that something terrible has happened in the hotel, something that only people with The Shining can detect. And Detect he does. Among other things, he sees two murdered children, an imaginary friend named Tony, and an elevator of blood. Meanwhile, Jack is having no luck with his writing, and his mental health is deteriorating rapidly. He begins showing aggressive behavior, and is even accused of abusing Danny. What follows is a terrifying struggle between a murderous husband and desperate wife, all with the demonic undertones of Dannys possession. In the end, though, good wins out. Danny and his mother are rescued from both the murderous Jack and the demonic hotel, and Jack meets his demise in a creepy hedge maze that he pursued Danny in to. The Shinings exemplary acting performance, fantastic yet eerie musical scores, unique cinematography, and special effects all come together in this film from beginning to end. As any true classic movie enthusiast would agree, the execution was phenomenal, leaving most viewers wide awake at night.
The interesting thing about this movie is its origin. The story was derived from a classic Stephen King novel, The Shining. The inspiration for the book can be found in the Stanley hotel, a mysterious old lodge that I have had the privilege to have visited. It was there that I first viewed the movie; it was playing 24 hours a day on channel 1 of all the hotel TVs. There I also took a ghost and history tour of the hotel, learned of its unique and ghostly history, and had a ghostly experience myself. During the tour I learned that Stephen King, he was staying at the hotel when his dreams were haunted by incessant nightmares. He awoke with the idea for the book in his head, and could not sleep until he had written it down. The next morning he had the basic idea for the book written down, and shortly afterwards the novel came out. Though the inspiration for the story came from the Stanley Hotel, no part of the movie was filmed there. However, the exterior shots were filmed at the Timberline Lodge, another historic hotel which I have visited. Sadly, there is no hedge maze there, but in every other way the hotel fits the movies creepy atmosphere.
Critics on Rotten Tomatoes give this movie only an 88%, but I would award it a 95%. The movie features suspense and an interesting plot line that is so often missing in more modern films. Between the fabulous musical scores and the eerie cinematography, this movie delivers from start to finish. It takes a true horror movie enthusiast to see past The Shinings minor flaws and into its dark, disturbing heart.