There are only a few movies in the world that are impossible to forget. “The Shining” is without doubts one of them. Stanley Kubrick takes a story from a master of horrors – Stephen King – and turns its genius in a movie that is both – fascinating and thrilling. The director seems to repeat gestures of the writer – he slowly multiplies the levels of madness, but – what’s important – the movie is not a faithful adaptation of the book. The audience knows from the beginning that something terrible is going to happen, but it’s almost impossible to guess when the hidden monster will explode.
“The Shining” starts in a very innocent way – Jack Torrance (amazing Jack Nicholson), who uses to be a writer and a teacher, decides to write a – seemingly normal – contract: he agrees to take care of an old hotel that is situated away from the city noise. The only problem is – the hotel has a long, violent past. Rational people do not believe in ghosts and curses, but subconscious has different opinion – Jack and his family feel pretty nervous. In the beginning the demon is only imaginary; its materialization will take a while.
What makes “The Shining” a very special (one in its kind) horror is the fact that is not built of strange, unusual things that don’t belong to the order reality. Paranormal occurrences, like the famous ghosts of twins, are secondary and more important for the aesthetics than for the actual action of the movie. What scares the most is the mind of the protagonist that slowly achieves more and more dangerous levels of madness. The source of insanity is pretty banal and easy to ignore – Jack is not happy about his life and self-disappointment gives a birth to the frustration.
Frustration becomes a food for madness. Jack’s demon grows up and takes control of his creator body and life. The bloody story of the hotel doesn’t help in taming insanity. Jack’s family loses father and husband – the protagonist changes in the torturer and emotionally instable murderer. Their existence turns into a permanent fear and necessity of hiding and escaping. Unfortunately, running out from a haunted house at the end of the world is not so easy. Even Jack’s son’s telepathic skills don’t make the whole situation any better.
“The Shining” is a horror that reveals the subcutaneous fears – it’s neither obvious nor superficial. The director knows that it’s easier to tame ghosts than real people. That’s why he puts the pressure on the complicated picture of madness. The most thrilling part of Kubrick’s movie is the human nature – we cannot always control our demons. Sometimes they stronger than us and there’s no magical spell that could make them go back to sleep.