Directed By: Stanley Kubrick
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd
Tag line: "He Came As The Caretaker, But This Hotel Had Its Own Guardians - Who'd Been There A Long Time"
Trivia: During filming, Stanley Kubrick made the cast watch Eraserhead, Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist to put them in the right frame of mind
Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is a horror masterpiece, a visually spectacular ghost story that also presents a chilling account of one man’s journey into madness.
Aspiring writer Jack Torrence (Jack Nicholson) accepts a job as the off-season caretaker for the Overlook hotel, a remote Colorado resort that closes its doors during the harsh winter months. With his wife, Wendy (Shelley Duvall), and son, Danny (Danny Lloyd), in tow, Jack moves into the abandoned hotel, convinced the extended isolation will be just what he needs to finally complete his novel. But young Danny, who has a special “gift” that allows him to sense what others cannot, knows evil lurks there, and over the course of several weeks, he will experience an onslaught of horrific visions, providing a glimpse into the dark forces surrounding them all. Yet it’s Jack who ultimately falls under their spell, and as a result, his sanity slowly slips away.
Like every Kubrick film, The Shining features a number of striking images. Before the family even sets out for the Overlook, Danny, whose psychic powers are already tuned in to the hotel’s sinister past, can “see”, in his mind’s eye, a river of blood pouring from an elevator shaft, and the bodies of two young girls, horribly butchered, lying dead on the floor. Equally as impressive are the film's two main characters, Jack and Danny, both of whom are susceptible to the Overlook's intense energy, yet each in a very different way. Jack, who doesn't fully realize the powers at play, is manipulated so severely that his mind becomes a jumbled mess, unable to differentiate between reality and illusion. The energy enveloping Jack, is, at the same time, warning Danny. He sees the aftermath of the grisly murders that occurred there years earlier, and knows to avoid room 237, even if he's not sure why. Danny’s unique abilities, frightening though they may be, are, in the end, all that's keeping him alive.
Perhaps most effective of all is the Overlook itself, certainly one of the most ominous settings in the history of horror movies. On more than one occasion, Kubrick takes us on a grand tour, exploring its spacious corridors and vacant rooms by way of long, continuous shots, allowing us to see for ourselves just how enormous, how cold and empty, it really is. By containing the horror almost exclusively within the Overlook, Kubrick hangs a pall over the entire building, and while many might consider the hotel beautiful, we never see it as such. Its luxurious appearance masks a disturbing nature, and even if Jack and Wendy did, at first, find it the ideal setting, Danny wasn’t fooled for a second.