Scream Stream: What makes The Shining a must watch psychological-horror
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Scream Stream: What makes The Shining a must watch psychological-horror

The Shining, directed by Stanley Kubrick, released in 1980s and is still adapted by various shows.

Shaheen Irani
Oct 09, 2021
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The Shining - Jack Nicholson.

While people have seen Psycho as a brilliant example of cinematography over the years, many of them have also appreciated The Shining as a cult which is on the same level as the movie. There is a reason why this Stanley Kubrick directorial is an iconic film till date.

Being a psychological-horror, The Shining plays with your mind. It manages to keep you at the edge-of-your-seat and wonder what would happen next, all while sitting and watching the film in fear of Jack Nicholson.

Imagine what happens when a man goes to a hotel, parties with the dead people and undergoes a major personality change. Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) sinks his teeth to play that character with ease. At the same time, he manages to bring fear alive with his acting.

The clues are in the backdrop of the family.

Jack Torrance is a quieter person in the family. He loves his wife Wendy (played by Shelley Duvall) and son Danny (played by Danny Llyod). On the other hand, Wendy takes control of every situation, even though she depends on Jack more than often. Danny, on the other hand, has visions. Somewhere, he was already expecting what the family witnessed. Moreso, it was owing to his visions that Wendy could also get out of the situation alive.

The cinematography is the highlight of this movie. Stanley, as usual, has paid attention to the details and created an environment that is just perfect to create the horror elements. Whether the hotel's outside view, Danny meeting the twins or Jack peeping into the washroom after breaking it's door, the camera angles enhance the scenes to the level that they create goosebumps.

What makes The Shining different?

Agreed that Psycho played with our minds but truly, there wouldn't be a film that scares you and plays with your brains as much as The Shining. Many critics are still trying to solve the last scene of this film, for Stanley has left the scene to the interpretation and horror of the audiences. All the director ever said was 'Jack was likely to be reincarnated'. He never explained whether Jack came back to the hotel after 1921 or became the one with the hotel after dying on its premises.

The movie creates confusion and fear in every moment. The viewers are bound to feel what Wendy feels - literal chills - after knowing that someone she once loved is now stalking her with an axe in his hand and has the intentions of 'splashing her brains in her head'.

The 1980s film is a visual delight.

Although it is not exactly delightful to watch the scenes, but Stanley has played quite well with the visuals especially for the era. He used simple effects and yet, managed to create an impact. All he ever did with the bathroom scene was fit Jack's face in the door. That much was enough to create the highest point of the film.

Another memorable scene is the corridor scene. He shot that scene from Danny's viewpoint. Danny could see a beautiful corridor in front of him while he was cycling. However, suddenly, he saw the twins calling out to him. If that did not give you the chills, wait for the flashback scenes Danny has. They appear for barely split seconds but leave a huge impact not on Danny's but also the viewers' minds.

The iconic last scene.

The one scene that has made people scratch their heads is Stanley's simple zoom in shot of Jack being a part of the hotel photo, taken in 1921. He, in fact, was the evident face of the photo. The ghost butler and every other person who died in the hotel a few years later, were present in the picture. The big question is - how did Jack know and meet them? How did it not change his personality then? How were they exactly connected? These are some answers that remain unanswered.

Attention to detail.

Another iconic scene is Wendy with the bat. She calls out to Jack and meets him. A frustrated Jack doubted his wife. We see this as Jack Nicholson asks Shelley Duvall "What about me!" in an unreasonable tone. Before the scene, Stanley also focused on the work that Jack was doing. All his notes read were, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." It was in that moment when you realize that the plot has taken a 360 degree turn. Jack is no longer the loving husband. Did the hotel change him? Nobody knows.

Jack Nicholson brings the show alive.

Although Shelley and Danny were good in their own capacity, The Shining was most definitely Jack Nicholson's show on camera and Stanley Kubrick's behind it. Jack is constantly shown in a 'calm before the storm' mood. He is a sweet and polite person who doesn't have any good intentions. In the ladder scene, Jack calmly addresses his wife as 'the light of his life' and later tells her that he doesn't want to hurt her but bash her brains inside her head.

This politeness continues in the washroom scene too. Jack knocks on the door, calls out to Wendy lovingly and later, breaks the door off partially, in order to confirm the human presence and declare his own by screaming, "Here's Johnny!" That there is the devil everyone needs to be afraid of!

How the film became a legacy and was adapted even in Breaking Bad.

The axe and the twins make up for a big part of The Shining. The two were combined for Breaking Bad in the form of the axe-murdering Salamanca twins. Not just Breaking Bad, even its spin-off Better Call Saul had 'Here's Johnny' moment.

Apart from this, Steven Spielberg, Jared Leto, Tim Burton and The Simpsons have taken inspiration from the film. The Grady sisters were recreated in all the versions.

Lastly, The Shining, adapted from Stephen King's novel, has been turned into a spin-off called Doctor Sleep. Overlook, inspired by the name of the hotel, was also a project adapted by HBO Max. Unfortunately, that series was shelved due to reasons unknown.

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