The Shining

Stanley Kubrick. The legend. The recluse. The meticulous craftsman. His work has been reviewed, evaluated, studied, rated, loved and loathed. What more can I add to what's already been said, heard or written about the beardy chap? Well, next to nothing. I have only seen one of his movies : Full Metal Jacket. Not even his best effort, should you believe the critics. I love A.I., but that's not a real Kubrick film.

Tonight, I have seen The Shining.

I had caught the trailer. I had heard the legendary catchphrases, such as "Here's Johnny" and "All work and no play make Jack a dull boy". I had enjoyed the The Simpsons pastiche.

But nothing could prepare me for the real thing.

Jesus H. Tap-dancin' Christ, what a scary movie. The main culprit is the music. Bone chilling, gut wrenching, sleep stealing, toe twisting (etc.), Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind's score (plus the cues from various classical composers) is by far the creepiest I have ever heard. It provides the glue between every scene, introduces the twists in the plot and raises the hair on our back on more than one occasion.

Regular readers of this site know my respect for Jack Nicholson. He's one of my favourite actors, versatile and professional. His character Jack Torrance will haunt me for several sleepless nights to come. You can recognize a great performance when you forget you are watching an actor. "Hey, it's the writer from As Good As It Gets" or "Look, the mobber from The Departed" never crossed my mind. Nicholson is dark, evil, sinister and - as it stands - spot-on.

Kudos to the main supporting actors Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd and Scatman Crothers. As always, it ain't easy to distinguish yourself when playing alongside an acting monster as Nicholson, but all three manage to hold up very well.

I won't go into more detail regarding the story or the scary moments. The Shining is really the kind of movie you have to see for yourself. Go in with a clear mind and leave with a frightened one, full of questions. The ending baffled me beyond confusion, so I definitely have to see the flick more than once.

The Shining is a true classic of American cinema. Discover it sooner or later - preferably sooner.

Julian De Backer, 31 March 2008