The Movie Critique
The Shining

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
North By Northwest
Taxi Driver
Wild Things
Kindergarten Cop
The Godfather
The Shining
Gone with the wind
2001: A Space Odyssey
The Maltese Falcon

Daniel Little (
Columbus, Ohio

Date: 6 November 2001
Summary: Snowbound with Shelly Duvall for 4 months; that's scary!

-May contain spoilers-

"The Shining" is, for me, a gradual descent into insanity driven by isolated, claustrophobic living conditions. Implications are made throughout the movie that the hotel may be haunted and ghosts still continue to drive the tenants into madness, but this film is also about psychological terror-what is real and what is in someone's own imagination? Months spent together in close quarters would likely drive just about anyone to dementia, ghosts or no ghosts. My one gripe with this film is Shelly Duvall's acting. She plays such an annoying mother and wife that there is little sympathy for her character when Jack comes after her with an axe. I'm thinking "please, just stop screaming and maybe he won't be driven to kill you anymore." A harsh view, yes, but Stanley Kubrick's films were never exactly humane in the first place.


Dan Johnson
Rochester, NY

Date: 31 October 2001
Summary: stylish delight

Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" is one of the most stylized movies I have ever seen, and probably the most for an American film. The horror genre has long used the camera to manipulate the audience, using quick zooms, tilted angles and hand held camera to create tension and visual distortion. The sense of danger and panic was conveyed by the camera as much as it was by the narrative elements. In "The Shining", the camera is used quite differently. Instead of hand held shots, Kubrick employs steady-cam which moves with a fluid sense of menace. Also, instead of wide angles and rapid cuts, Kubrick chooses to use long takes with symmetrical framing, creating a new style that dowmplays the tension an action, but creates more terror as it works so well with the steady cam.

"The Shining" also has some terrific visuals. The red bathroom that the father talks to the butler in is incredibly stylish. Also, the strange carpet designs add a unique visual flair to the movie. The insert shots of the butchered girls and butler are pretty weird, but nothing can top the guy in the bunny suit fellating the business man. Creepy and coocky.

The best part of the movie is Jack Nicholson. He is in top form for this movie, especially in his scenes of metamorphisis into a lunatic. His conversations with the bar tender are extremely entertaining, as is his meeting with the butler in the red bathroom. The dialogue in these segments is great as well.

Overall, "The Shining" is one of the best horror movies ever made, and worth a look for fans of the genre and Kubrick alike. It's a fun movie, but has many great merits as well, something not very common.


bob the moo
Birmingham, UK

Date: 29 October 2001
Summary: A classic horror from a master director

When Jack Torrance (Nicholson) is offered a job as winter caretaker for the Overlook Hotel he accepts it as an opportunity to work on his novel in an isolated environment. He is told stories of the last caretaker going mad and butchering his family but isn't deterred. He arrives at the Overlook Hotel with his wife (Duvall) and child Danny (Lloyd) and is shown around the hotel by the cook (Scatman Crothers) who has the gift of perception. The cook warns Danny that the hotel can be of particular danger for those with the gift. It's only a matter of time before Jack begins to act increasingly erratic.

This is one of Jack Nicholson's finest roles, his increasingly unhinged character is amusing and terrifying in almost equal measures. Duvall plays the role of the terrorised wife quite well - she does look like she's genuinely filled with fear - but doesn't have much else to do. Lloyd is excellent as the boy, although he doesn't have too much emotion to express. However no doubt that this is Jack's show.

The story doesn't stick to King's novel and is better for it; this is Kubrick's Shining. The film has plenty of genuinely scary moments but manages to keep a creepy atmosphere all through - especially as the ghosts come out and Jack begins to move between his reality and the reality that is gradually claiming him.

Kubrick is excellent here, his cold direction adds to the overall creep factor of the film. It's one of the best examples of his masterful touch.

Overall this is an excellent horror movie - because the focus is on horror and fear rather than gore alone (as with modern horrors). Jack is excellent in one of his best roles ever and the whole package is delivered in a cold creepy manner by a sadly lost director.



Date: 22 October 2001
Summary: Vintage King

First off, I have to say the obvious. Jack Nicholson is an excellant actor and Stanley Kubrick is an incredible director, but this movie is actually a hodgepodge of confusing clues and vague images that doesn't make much sense. Kudos do have to go to the masterful and artful creation of the chilling images, the female twins with the huge foreheads for one, but at it's core, this movie is actually one very chilling ghost story set in a haunted hotel that turns into a giant sensory deprivation tank for the hapless couple and child trapped in it. The blood and gore plot is unnecessary except as a way to establish the increasing intensity of the script. The real star of this movie is the hotel itself with its vast rooms and endless halls; I for one would love to visit this hotel and look for ghosts if it trully existed. I hold these set as a standard for ever large looming edifice in almost every haunted house movie I have ever seen. The movie is weakened by a confusing back story and phony history that doesn't make sense. Too much was left out of the original King material to explain why the place is haunted and why it centers on Jack much less his son.


J. Bradley
United States

Date: 18 October 2001

The Shining is probably one of the few decent horror movies out there. It has horror, suspense, great acting, and outstanding directing by Stanley Kubrick. I admit, this movie was pretty slow at times, but aren't most movies? Some scenes were sort of disturbing ( SPOILERS ) like the 2 little girls chopped up in the hallway, and the part where Hallorann ( Scatman Cruthers ) gets an ax driven into his chest. Stuff like that. But one thing about this movie is it didn't follow the book in some ways. The writers thought up ideas of their own, which helped the movie alot. It still would've been cool if they had added some scenes that involved the playground, like Steven King wrote about in the book. That would've been good also. Well anyways, this movie is very good, and i recommend this to anyone. 9/10



Date: 8 October 2001
Summary: A good and unforgettable Horror Movie. Very Original and Scary

I never really got around to seeing Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" for a while. I had always heard of it but never really knew to much about it. But boy i thought Jack Nicholson was Crazy in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's nest" I was wrong. When I first found out that He starred in the Shining i decided to check it out. This movie is awesome. Jack Nicholson acts like one hell of a Psycho in the film which is exactly how he was supposed to play the role. I have to say the acting was perfect with Jack N. but the rest of the cast wasn't anybody special and the acting wasn't great but good. I suggest for people that are interested in Horror films to go see this classic film. I give "The Shining" 7.7 out of 10 stars. GO and see it!


Huntington Beach CA

Date: 8 October 2001
Summary: I dont get why everybody thinks this is so good?

Ok, honestly I dont see why everybody thinks this is so great. Its really not. There were two good things that came out of this movie 1. Jack's performance, he was very good I can tip my hat for him. 2. Danny's performance, he was good. No other then that it got pretty stupid. And, what was Stanley Kubrick thinking drafting Shelly as the Wendy? She was so bad. She looked the same every time she got scared. The problem with this movie was the ending. I would have had more respect for it if Kubrick would have ended it differently. And, the over all movie was just stupid. The problem with the movie is that the book was so much better. So dont see the movie read the book and you will be much better off. 3/10.


Shrewsbury, England

Date: 4 October 2001
Summary: Best Movie Ever!

This is without a shadow of a doubt the finest film of all time, uniting my favourite actor with my favourite director. Probably Jack Nicholson's greatest performenses of all time. Shelley Duval is surprisingly good and Kubrick's use of timing and effect are second to none. Flawless. 10/10.



Date: 28 September 2001
Summary: I hope this clears some things up.

I've seen some crazy posts in this board. First of all, the miniseries is better than the original film. The miniseries was nominated for three awards, while the movie only one. (To add insult to injury Shelly Duvall was Worst Actress in the Rannie awards, and Kubrick got worse director.) Third, one post (I believe a young man named Spleen wrote it) said King is a hack because sometimes his characters go out to Mc. Donalds. COME ON! If the Shining was such a bad book, it wouldnt be considered the best haunted house novel since Haunting of Hill House, and if the movie were such a great film, Kubrick and many of his fans would not say that it was his weakest film.

This post probably wont stop the battle, and some raving lunatic will call me uneducated for giving my opinion, but I just wanted to get this off my throat.


Belgrade, Yugoslavia

Date: 28 September 2001

This is without any doubts,to me the best film that is ever made. The reason for this rough, free judgement is that this film presents evil the best than any other film, and just cause the evil lurks on Earth it makes it the best to me cause the Stanley Kubrick skill is TOO F...... GOOD!!!! :) This slow paced psychological horror is for everyone, thus 98 % of those that watched it or will watch the film will find it extremely heavy and dark. It is, but with all right reasons. This is Jack Nicholson best role EVER , same stands for Shelley Duvall. AMAZING ACTING !!! This film has actually everything the best( music,camera,editing,lights,locations ). It just is the best film in the world ( for me at least...)




Date: 29 September 2001
Summary: The scariest film ever made!

My all-time favorite horror film. Kubrick is a genius when it comes to fright. His wide, sweeping camera angles and music selections are great in this film. With the ghouls in the film, if anyone else but him would of filmed it, it would of come across as stupid. The lighting is key in those scenes, he makes ghouls scary without the use of make-up, unlike the mini-series version. This film is a definite must-see for horror movie fans!


Richmond, Virginia

Date: 25 September 2001
Summary: A Masterpiece of Horror

***SPOILERS*** ***SPOILERS*** Many critics claim that there were two failures in Stanley Kubrik's career. One was the over-hyped "Eyes Wide Shut," which seemed underdeveloped and overacted. The other was "The Shining." Most critics mentioned the differences between the book by Stephen King and the movie's screenplay. (Jack Torrance was too crazy in the movie, his wife was too wimpy in the movie, the boy was too strange in the movie, the moving hedge animals were missing in the movie, etc, etc). I think these critics have actually gotten in wrong. Stephen King should be thanking Kubrik for what he did--he took an average book about the effects of child abuse and turned it into a masterpiece of modern horror.

First, let's examine the events in the book. We learn that Jack Torrance has a bad temper, and that he has been fired for hurting a student. We also learn that he broke his son's arm once in a fit of rage. Most of this was done in an alcoholic rage. Needing money, he moves his family to the Overlook hotel and takes the job of the winter caretaker. His son, Danny, has visions of horrible things in the hotel: a blood-stained wall, a hand coming from a bathtub, and the words REDRUM. Slowly, Jack becomes obsessed with the hotel's past, while strange things begin happening to his son. A fire hose begins to menace the small boy and the hotel's hedge animals begin to move and "hunt" him. He has recurring nightmares about a figure stalking him in the hallways with a bat, telling him repeatedly to "take your medicine!" Meanwhile, acting as though he's back off the wagon, Jack becomes convinced that he should kill his family and, quite predictably, turns into the figure in the hallway with the baseball bat. Only at the end of the novel does Jack snap out of it, rescuing his family from the hotel before it blows up (he forgot to fix the heater in the basement). (Bear in mind, this is an extremely brief summary of a 300+ page book).

Okay, here are some problems right away with the novel. One, it's almost downright silly. Moving hedge animals? That's not scary, it's almost laughable. A threatening fire hose? Not scary. A blood-stained wall? Seen that on television too many times. The only true terror from the book comes from room 217 and the woman in the bathtub. The other problem from the novel is that most of it is told through the child's point of view. His "shinings" and visions are scary, yes, but they are still childlike. We don't question if the ghosts exist to Jack or Wendy, we question if they are real for Danny. Are these the real ghosts of a haunted hotel? Or are they the ghosts of a traumatized, abused child's mind?

Now let's address the movie. The film begins similarly to the novel. Jack Torrance interviews for a position at the Overlook Hotel. Meanwhile, his wife discloses to a nurse that her son was once "injured" by Jack by accident when he was "still drinking." The student from the novel is dropped. Danny begins to have his visions--an elevator opens to release torrents of blood down a hallway. As the family moves into the hotel, Danny continues to have "shinings," such as seeing the two twin girls mutilated in the hallway. These visions are graphic and haunting. Meanwhile, Jack begins to have visions--a bartender serves him alcohol, a caretaker tells him to rid of his family. Danny eventually wanders into room 237--room 217 in the film--, and when Jack goes in, he finds the woman in the bathtub. She appears beautiful, but when he sees her reflection, he realizes she is actually a decomposed body. (To get into the use of mirrors in the film would require a whole new essay). Eventually, Jack goes insane, stalking his family with an axe, chasing Danny through a maze of hedges. Wendy runs through the hotel, seeing several ghosts and bizarre visions. Jack eventually gets lost in the maze andfreezes to death.

How is this an improvement on the book? For one, Kubrick changes the point of view. The movie is told strictly through Jack Torrance's point of view. We see Danny's visions, but they are much more "adult." The blood streaming down the hallway is much more menacing than a dog-shaped hedge animal. Secondly, Jack himself is much scarier in the movie. Some people say the character is over the top, but I disagree. In the book, the repeated "Take your medicine!" references got old REALLY fast. Watching Jack Nicholson smile crookedly and say "Heeeeere's Johnny!" in the movie still gives me the chills. The bizarre visions that Wendy sees near the film's conclusion are also an added bonus. While searching for Danny, she sees three different visions. First, she sees what appears to be a man in a bear costume performing oral sex on a man in tuxedo. A viewer might be tempted to say "HUH?", but that is what makes it so frightening to me. Wendy wouldn't know what the heck was going on, so why should the viewer? Not knowing makes us as scared as Wendy was at that point. Then, she sees a man with blood trickling down his forehead. "Great party, isn't it?" he says. What party? Who cares! Like I said before, she would have no idea what was going on...why should we? Finally, Wendy sees the blood pouring from the elevators, a terrifying image that gave me nightmares the first time I saw it.

Overall--and since I've been writing far too long already--the movie is much better than the book. The novel seemed silly and juvenile, while the film seemed subtle, morbid, terrifying, and very, very adult. Some say Kubrick didn't tie up all of the loose ends. I say he left out enough information to bring the audience back for more.



Date: 23 September 2001
Summary: Another piece of trash in the IMDB top 250...

Shortly after posting some comments about A Clockwork Orange, one of the few Kubrick films I can stand to watch, an enraged fan with in inflated idea of their own intelligence or strength began posting me abusive messages, so I thought I would start pointing out all the Kubrick films I have seen that do a half-hearted job of stealing someone else's creative work. Of course, The Shining is the most obvious example, being based on one of Stephen King's most popular novels, but what may not be obvious is just how bad the film is compared to the novel.

I think my mother said it best when we discussed the film during a drive to the doctor's in order to get a minor skin cancer taken out of my face. She basically said that unless one had read the novel by Stephen King, you wouldn't have a clue what was supposed to be going on in the film. That's one point where the film falls down, but it is a minor one in comparison to others. Things like the unstable heating system in the hotel, the reason why Jack Torrance is out of work and needs the job in the hotel, and all the things the Torrances had gone through before the point where Jack is employed in the hotel, are the most important ones. These things play an extremely important part in the course of the rest of the story, explaining why Wendy suddenly turns on Jack, why Jack so easily falls under the spell of the spirits in the hotel, and so forth. Admittedly, it has been a while since I last read the novel, but this is just one juncture in a long pattern from Kubrick: a total display of disrespect for the author of the source material he was using to further his own career. Stephen King has also disowned this version of his novel, so it's not as though I am just making it up.

Which is a shame, really. After the abusive messages I have been receiving from one insane Kubrick fan who obviously has no idea what the point of democratic society is, I have really lost every little piece of desire to see another Kubrick film. Never again will Stanley Kubrick's directorial work get the chance to prove to me that, contrary to the impression Eyes Wide Shut, Full Metal Jacket, The Shining (especially), A Clockwork Orange, and Dr. Strangelove give me, the man wasn't an overrated hack. I bet that jrockwell will be proud of themselves.


studhead182 (
Tampa, Florida

Date: 14 September 2001
Summary: Kubrick is a genius!

This is the best horror movie I have seen. Kubrick did one of the most outstanding jobs directing this movie. Jack Nicholsan does a great performance. I was so glad that Kubrick wrote the screenplay for this film. I just wish he was alive to do A.I. instead of Speilberg. Just imagine how good A.I. would of been. Okay I'm getting off the subject a little. In the Shining I wish they could of gave Jack Nicholsan a better looking wife because shelly long is ugggggggggggggly. But all the actors did a wonderful performance. Kubrick rocks!


Access Sanctuary
New England

Date: 8 September 2001
Summary: Maybe We're All Really Snowplows

Jack is an aspiring writer who takes a job as a winter caretaker for a huge, historic hotel, bringing along his wife and son for some peace and quiet. As he starts to learn more about the hotel, he discovers that the former caretaker killed himself and his family after going crazy due to the intense seclusion. But, he is yet to be discouraged from taking the job. The little family treks up to the hotel and the father immediately begins losing his mind.

To make the long story short: wife discovers husband has been writing about his decent into madness, husband gets violently hostile and tries to kill his family. Starts off pretty well, but it has far too many flaws to be anything special. First of all, Nicholson plays intense to it's hilt during his introductory scenes so it's impossible to tell at what point he actually goes insane. Second, this was not tailored for Stephen King fans. From watching this, you can tell this was made strictly for fans of Kubrick. The two styles clash and this film is unlike most of King's films because of the mind games Kubrick is always playing with the viewer. Third, it's overlong and doesn't make good use out of the time it has. Except for the opening credits, this film is perfectly skip-able.


London, England

Date: 4 September 2001
Summary: "Go check it out !!"

I first saw the 110 min version when I was 14 and was disappointed but have since grown to love the longer 140min+ film. I've never found it scary, only unsettling at best but what I think Kubrick manages really well is to portray the sense of seeing someone you know turn into someone you don't (ie Jack Torrence). The film as a whole does not work very well - it's the scene-by-scene thing that makes it great, the best of them being perhaps the Wendy with baseball bat sequence.

Personally, I think this is one of Kubrick's best. There are many things to enjoy - you might need to watch it a few times to find them all but chances are any expectations you have prior to viewing will not be met, this is Kubrick creation after all and he doesn't tend to follow the puffin genre-guidebook to making movies.



Date: 1 September 2001
Summary: You have always BEEN here....


In the same way Kubrick's comedy Dr Strangelove wasn't necessarily funny, so The Shining isn't necessarily scary. By that I mean, it's not a film that you appear to be scared whilst watching it, but it is scary in the way it lingers long after, deep in the subconscious. Images, dialog, The Shining is pure psychological terror, and it is that psychological terror that makes the film what it is.

Kubrick has to go down in history as a true cinematic force, everything used in The Shining makes it all the more offsetting, the long tracking shots, the predominantly red colour scheme, the slightly black comedy performances. It all remains in the memory, the powerful and disturbing images that most people don't even pick up on, for instance, take a look at the picture in the closing shot, and no I'm not talking about Nicholson, look at some of the other faces. Subtle eh, that's Kubrick for you.

There are also some unbelievably perverse images in the film, if it wasn't for the fact that most people miss them I'm sure the film would have been more controversial, check out the scene where the man in the dog mask is giving "oral pleasure" to another man, it's pretty messed up, but theses are the images that I'm talking about, they get under you're skin. The photography by John Allcott and stediecam operator Garret Brown should also be commended, the use of symmetrical framing and over lighting make scenes seem real, yet at the same time completely removed from reality, if that makes any sense at all, like in the scenes where the man with the hole in his head toasts Shelly Duvall's character in the corridor.

This brings me on to the acting, like I pointed out, there played with an almost comedic feeling, but this only helps to make light of the bizarre extremes the Overlook hotel is creating. Nicholson has been much better in films like The Last Detail, One Flew over the Cuckoo's nest and Chinatown, but his fame will always lie with his bravo `Heeeere's Johnny'. Shelly Duvall was also a lot better in Altman's Three Women; here she seems a little uncomfortable with the material (and anyone who's seen The making of The Shining will know she had a serious case of the flu). But Danny Lloyd impresses with his first film and Scatman Crothers helps gives his slightly under written role a real human side.

My favourite scene in the film is with Jack in the bathroom with Phillip Stone's eerie Delbert Grady (`I Corrected them')... Brilliantly written and shot in order to build the feeling of isolation that Jack is going through. Let's not forget that that is what the Shining is about - isolation, a man struggling with his inner demons. So if you're a Kubrick fan and you haven't yet seen this film then act now, it's one of the best psychological movies ever made, and I took the liberty not to call it a "horror" film.




Date: 31 August 2001
Summary: ROBJO,GET A CLUE!!!!!

I'm not a kubrick sheep, although I think he was an original talent. The film Is'nt really scary, your right its more eerie than anything. But the acting was perfect it set the mood,along with the music,and thecinematography. Kubrick didnt stay true to the book because s/x werent advanced enough. This movie uses king's story as a backdrop. I cant stand these bookworms like ROBJO, WHO FEEL EVERY MOVIE ADAPTED FROM A NOVEL SHOULD always be faithful. Last I looked king didnt create an elevtor full of blood,or the image of 2 ghostly twins, kubrick did. Lets face it ROBJO, YOU'LL never forget this movie....forever..and ever..and ever.



Date: 24 August 2001
Summary: What was Kubrick thinking of?

Finally got around to seeing "The Shining," and was looking forward to it with great anticipation.

What a disappointment! All the wonderful power of the book thrown away for 2 hours of Jack Nicholson mugging and overacting for the camera. Everything is overlit like a 7-Eleven.The dialogue is wooden, the music intrusive, the direction straight out of a high school play....

The cook makes the whole trip just to be killed in the hallway, instead of being the pivot point of the rescue and the key to the ending in the book. The maze is static and boring, and what happened to the malevolent topiary sculptures? The cellar is bright and clean and perky instead of the home of the heating plant from Hell that eventually destroys Jack and the hotel and releases the bound spirits. The whole history of the hotel is only referred to obliquely, and that was the heart of the story.

Stephen King must have had a near coronary if he saw it, which I sincerely hope he never did.

There is nothing worse than a purported horror movie that winds up boring and annoying. I watched it through to the end more out of disbelief than anything else. This is the same guy who made "2001"?

Anybody for a remake?


jimcarreys brother
New Orleans, Louisiana

Date: 20 August 2001
Summary: Another Kubrick Pic

It's hard to believe that this was his third to last movie next to "Full Metal Jacket," and then, his last, "Eyes Wide Shut." I recently commented on his film "A Clockwork Orange," so you can go check that out in just a bit. The movie was good, not as strange as "A Clockwork Orange". I was funny at times, and both memorable scenes and quotes will stay with us all for as long as we live. I suggest you go out and rent the movie. It was good!