Thursday, November 17, 2011

Crazy 80s Project: The Shining

I watched Stanley Kubrick's The Shining right before Halloween, hoping that it would both get me in the mood for the holiday but not freak me out too much. It turns out there was no reason to worry as The Shining is, for the most part, not a typical horror film. Instead of scary, the word I'd use to describe the film is unsettling. From scene to scene, you never quite know what to expect, whether Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson in Angry Jack mode) is going to be affectionate toward his wife (Shelley Duvall) and young son (Danny Lloyd) or completely fly off the deep end. Kubrick makes great use of the cold, isolated environment of the secluded luxury hotel Jack has been hired to look after in the resort's off-season. At once empty and claustrophobic, the hotel not only takes its toll on the characters but the audience as well, who quickly become intertwined with this polarizing environment. This sense on unease would be hard for most directors to keep up for a film half the length of The Shining, but you have to credit Kubrick, with the help of composers Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind's eerie score and John Alcott's fantastic cinematography (I absolutely love the repeated shots of the camera following the axe as Jack tries to break down a door with it), for making it work nearly the entire runtime of the film. The Shining is not a horror film in the traditional sense, yet the creepiness and feelings of dread it arouses stay with you long after the final credits have rolled. A-

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