: The Shining
Director: Stanley Kubrick
This is one of those classic movies that I somehow managed to avoid watching all these years. I’d heard a lot about it, but knew little of the story, except that it involved a writer holed up in a remote hotel for the winter and going crazy.
It turns out it’s not just him — his wife and son are there, too. The son’s psychic and can see the future, though that did little for me since it made no difference in the story except to spook the little kid since he was having bad visions of what was going to happen. Really, there isn’t much story here at all. Just a lot of creepy goings-on without much explanation until the very end (and even then, nothing’s really explained).
What makes the movie work, though, is Kubrick’s direction and the fantastic performances by Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall, who plays his wife. (I thought the kid was a terrible actor.) What impressed me the most was how Kubrick knew enough to get out of the way and just allow Nicholson’s acting to provide the scares instead of fancy special effects or fake scares (such as a frightening movement turned out to be a passing cat). Several of the scenes focus on nothing but a close-up of Jack’s face as he leers evilly and it’s just about the scariest thing I’ve ever seen. Really awesome.
Overall, this is a terrific film. I was slightly disappointed by it simply because my expectations were so high, but I don’t know that there’s really anything wrong with the film except that I expected too much. The story, as I mentioned, is almost non-existent and I guess I was expecting more there. You really watch this for the acting and the direction, which are both top notch. Recommended.