Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Shining (1980)

Stanley Kubrick's The Shining is a masterpiece of horror in the truest sense of the word. Jack Nicholson stars as Jack Torrance, a writer who has agreed to be the caretaker of the Overlook Hotel during the winter season. At the interview for the job, Jack is told of a tragedy that occurred at the hotel ten years earlier. A man named Delbert Grady was the caretaker of the Overlook and had lost his mind, murdering his wife and two daughters with an axe and then blowing his brains out. This does not dissuade Jack from taking the job, he assures the gentleman in charge that this will not happen to him. Along with Jack are his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and young son Danny (Danny Lloyd). Danny has a special skill, something which allows him to see into the past and the future. Upon arriving at the Overlook Danny meets the head chef Dick Hallorann (Scatman Crothers). Hallorann has the same special ability as Danny, and he calls it shining. The first month at the Outlook is smooth sailing. Danny is enjoying himself, riding his big wheel around the hotel and Wendy is keeping herself busy with the upkeep of the hotel while Jack works on his book, but things are about to take a turn for the worst. Jack has a bad case of writer's block, and is becoming irritable and suffering from insomnia. One afternoon, Danny rides his big wheel past room 237, a room which has a bad feeling about it and which Hallorann has warned him to stay away from. The door to room 237 is open, and Danny goes in. At the same time, Jack is screaming in his sleep and Wendy awakens him and he tells her he had a terrible nightmare where he killed Danny and her with an axe. This is really the beginning of the end, as Danny comes down traumatized and bruised. Wendy accuses Jack, and this really causes Jack to go off the deep end. He starts seeing things and talking to people that aren't there, including Delbert Grady the man whom ten years prior had murdered his family and committed suicide. There are many strange things that happen beyond this point which lead you to question whether or not Jack is actually crazy, and whether the things which he sees are illusions or real life. The Shining is the greatest horror film of all time in my opinion; it works on so many levels. Kubrick's direction is a work of art; the scene with Danny riding his big wheel around the hallways is the single greatest piece of film work this reviewer has ever seen. Jack Nicholson gives the performance of a lifetime, and young Danny Lloyd is incredible. It's a shame Mr. Lloyd never pursued an acting career after The Shining. A must see film for any fan of cinema. Overall 4.0/4 Stars Grade = A

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