The Stephen King novel turned film The Shining has been terrifying viewers ever since its first debut in May 1980. The Shining is forever mixing in and out of the top 10 rankings for the scariest films of all time. The atmospheric nail biter has become one of the most influential films in popular culture. For people to still be honestly scared 30 + years on is testament to the films timeless fright, and with Stephen King announcing the sequel novel Doctor Sleep there is no chance that The Shining is done just yet.
As the kids set out in Halloween gear including large cloaks and freaky-looking coloured contact lenses, why not stay in and watch some bone chilling films. There is nowhere better to start, or alternatively finish, by watching The Shining.
The Shining Still Holds Its Shine
If you’re in the minority and you haven’t seen the film then you may mistaken The Shining for some sort of catchphrase run around. The memorable moments featured in the film can now be seen jokingly brandished across the walls of student dwellings as well as shouted out by unfunny chat show hosts named Johnny. But rest assured this film is a lot more than the odd jumpy scene and iconic catchphrase.
Director Stanley Kubrick managed to grip the audience right from the offset. The building tension and awkward atmosphere could be cut with a knife, making The Shining a totally unique production compared to other horror movies. Jack Torrance who is played by Jack Nicholson, takes up his position as a winter caretaker inside the large Overlook Hotel which boasts substantial gardens and a maze of corridors. He believes that this is the perfect retreat for his wife and young boy, using the Hotel’s solitude as an opportunity to inspire his writing. Although a previous caretaker had developed cabin fever and subsequently killed his family and himself, Jack remains committed to the stay.
Those Nasty Corridors
Jack’s son Danny plays the part of a gifted and inquisitive young boy, a boy who has an imaginary friend called ‘Tony’ who he often speaks to. Danny also inhabits ESP, the ability to receive information from unrecognised realms – connecting with the dead and enduring terrifying premonitions regarding the hotels past. As Jack begins to try and get a grip on his writing, it is left to Danny to explore the unforgiving hotel. Armed with just a big wheel tricycle Danny delves deeper into the hotels darkest secrets.
Danny pedalling around the endless corridors on his tricycle is possibly the movies most talked about section. The filming of these scenes use a lowered steady-cam to follow the boys movement, creating the feeling that you’re with him on every wheel rotation. The suspense is dooming and when he turns that final daunting corner he is faced with the Grady Twins, the young sisters who were part of the murdered family. The eerie image of the two twins still haunt viewers today.
As Danny continues to have strange sightings, his father Jack is left frustrated and ruined, he finds it hard to write and starts reacting irrationally with his wife Wendy played by Shelley Duvall. With this sudden switch in character Jack also starts to experience paranormal activities. However, this is where the film is hotly debated, is this simply hallucinations from cabin fever setting in or is it the ghosts of the past resurfacing?
Things go from bad to worse for Jack and his family, more and more terrifyingly abnormal sightings are discovered and Jack finally loses his marbles. He starts to have violent outbursts and can no longer cope with residing in the hotel; things get so bad that he tries to kill both his wife and child. It is these truly gripping scenes that make up the unparalleled finale to the film.
There is so much to be divulged in this epic horror that a short blog just can’t do it justice. Just looking on the films Wikipedia page will require a fair bit of reading. One thing is for sure that The Shining is undoubtedly one of the world’s scariest thrillers and will continue to unsettle the most hard-nosed of people who are yet to watch this classic. Even the people who have seen it time and time again can’t help but embrace the chills once more.
Author Bio: Bill Vine is an experienced film critic who loves to write about all genres of film.