Halloween Review – “The Shining”

The third entry in our Jack Nicholson triple feature is significantly better than the other two.

Cast, Crew, and Other Info

Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrence

Shelley Duvall as Wendy Torrence

Danny Lloyd as Danny Torrence

Scatman Crothers as Dick Hallorann

Screenplay by Stanley Kurick and Diane Johnson, based on the novel by Stephen King.

Directed by Stanley Kubrick

Complete information is available from the IMDB.

You can buy the individual release from Amazon.com
or Amazon.ca,
but I’d recommend the Kubrick boxed set
instead, which is also available from Amazon.com or Amazon.ca.
The box set includes The Shining, as well as Lolita, Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, Full Metal Jacket, Eyes Wide Shut, and a documentary on Kubrick himself. I’ve been told that the DVDs in the new box set also sport better transfers than the original box set (which is the one I’ve got) or the individual releases.


A man brings his family to an isolated hotel, where he has a job as a character. The hotel doesn’t seem to like them, though.

High Point

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

Low Point

The “episode” seemed to be too easily dismissed to me.

The Scores

Again, adaptations are limited in originality. This is a fairly close adaptation, too. There are some obvious changes (like the hedges themselves, where Hallorann was when he was contacted, etc.) but it is still a very accurate picture of the novel I remember reading a decade ago. I give it 3 out of 6.

The effects are done almost entirely with editing and props. As a result, they look as real as anything else in the film, which is exactly what we want from special effects. The cutting to and from them is also appropriate for this type of story, so using the editing to do the job isn’t a problem. I give it 6 out of 6.

The story holds together fairly well. It’s a simple one, but made effective by Kubrick’s hand. Many of the events are there to effect incremental changes to Jack, so they needn’t be shown in any particular order. Yet, the sequence chosen does have the effect of mounting suspence and tension, as they are arriving in a sequence that is ordered by how disturbing each event is. I give it 4 out of 6.

The acting from Jack Nicholson is what sells this entire movie. Shelley Duvall wasn’t particularly impressive (regardless of how many takes Kubrick made her do), and Danny Lloyd was passable, but not exceptional as a child actor. I give it 4 out of 6.

The emotional response is fantastic. Kubrick knows how to build tension and pay off with it, and Nicholson carries his role perfectly. The High Point, “Redrum,” and lobby attack sequences are all extremely effective. I give it 6 out of 6.

The production is by Stanley Kubrick. Nothing appears on screen unless it’s the way Kubrick wanted it to appear. (Note that I’m talking about the widescreen version; the DVD releases I’ve seen are the unmatted 1.33:1 ratio, which has some visible bloopers. These can be corrected by viewing it with a zoom in on a widescreen TV if you so choose.) The editing feels slow at first, but there wasn’t much choice. The slow pace works very well in the final sequences, and the pacing would feel off if the cuts were more frequent at the start of the film than at the end. I give it 6 out of 6.

Overall, it’s an excellent thriller. If you haven’t enjoyed horror before, give this one a shot. I give it 5 out of 6.

In total, The Shining recieves 34 out of 42.

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2 replies on “Halloween Review – “The Shining””

  1. A Gem
    This is a very creepy film. It made me feel uneasy watching it.

    The typical “roller coaster” formula of horror films is not used. A scene gets wierd, then starts to get creepy, the music builds, and just when an average director would have the monster pop out and scare you, Kubrick keeps going. You start to relax and try to forget that the creepy stuff happened, and it just starts building again to a higher plateu.


  2. Come Play With Us
    Those two girls. That is *the creepiest* scene ever. Ever. Anything even resembling those two girls still creeps me out. There is some advert on now with a young girl finding two twenty-something guys in a hallway, same style. I have no idea what the ad was about, because it creeped me out and that’s all I could think of.

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