The Shining (1980)

★★★½

Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is a brilliantly cataclysmic venture in atmosphere. As the vast and vacant walls of the Overlook Hotel begin to fill with ghoulish trepidations and manifestations, we’re cast into a crumbling world of madness and disorder by self-absorbing dread, fiendishly vague vindications, and perhaps the most encompassing, alarming and underrated soundtrack to ever accompany a horror film. Several sequences feature the young, telepathic Danny (Danny Lloyd) sliding through the hotel’s halls on his Big Wheel; Garrett Brown’s steadicam slickly follows suit, just barely avoiding scraping the corners as he turns a bend. While only a small selection of the 150-minute runtime is dedicated to Danny’s eerie explorations, the paranoia of what visible or invisible threats lay beyond those corners is persistent. Until the grand, grotesque finale starts to lay shape to what beings the Torrence family is encircled by, we fill in those holes ourselves, partaking in the lunacy as well.

Kubrick famously separated himself from Stephen King’s novel, losing, in great portions, the rationale behind the Overlook’s supernatural happenings. As a result, his Shining becomes a story of troubling energy, magnified and amplified by the isolating circumstances. Before taking the caretaker job at the hotel, Jack’s (Jack Nicholson) tendency to drink had already caused him to hurt his son. Now, his state of withdrawal has stalled his writing process completely, and worn his patience for his wife, Wendy (Shelly Duvall), almost entirely. The basis for the family’s unease is introduced in a rather troublesome opening act, where the grainy performances fail to penetrate the ghostly salps lurking beneath the carpet. However, the time does come for the Torrence’s to unleash themselves; their night of anarchy, spearheaded by Nicholson’s ferocity, has become one of cinema’s most iconic and deranged events, whose shocking final image has leeched itself onto viewers’ curiosity for the last 40 years.

A 4K remastering of The Shining will be presented on the big screen for a special, two-day affair on September 26th and October 1st. The screening will be accompanied by a sneak-peek of the upcoming Mike Flanagan film, Doctor Sleep.

by Luke Parker

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