Directed by Stanley Kubrick. Written by Stanley Kubrick and Diane Johnson. Based on the novel by Stephen King. Starring Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Scatman Crothers and Danny Lloyd.
Plot: a man gets a job in an isolated hotel for the winter and slowly starts to go mad, putting his family in danger
I believe there are 2 kinds of people on this earth; people who liked Stanley Kubrick’s version of The Shining and people who were holding out for the Mick Garris mini-series. We are of the latter camp. So, let’s begin.
Jack Torrance takes his wife, Wendy, and their son, Danny, with him to his new job in the mountains as caretaker of a closed hotel. Jack is a former alcoholic, but it’s been a while since he’s had a drink. And that is where the 2 Shining’s pretty much end being related.
Having read the book, I love the Jack Torrance character. He’s just a man trying to kill his personal demons, who really does love his family, but doesn’t always know how to show it. The great flaw with this 1980 version is that Kubrick made Jack so creepy from the beginning. He never does seem as loving as he can in the book. He never seems like the doting dad. He just evolves rather quickly from creepy to creepier to creepiest.
Some other flaws include Danny talking to his finger (don’t know why that’s a thing), the number change from #217 to #237 (stupid. what for?), and of course, Scatman dying. Maybe Kubrick is a little bit of a racist, but the black man didn’t die in the book and he damn sure shouldn’t have died in the movie.
I also don’t understand certain additions. Like, the two little girl ghosts. And, of course, the maze. There was no maze in the book. There were hedge animals in the book. The maze may have been easier to film and a little less corny then CGI hedge animals, but it’s not what the book called for and I am a stickler for the book.
Now, this is not to say that I didn’t enjoy some things about this movie and this retelling. Keeping the woman in the tub was right. She’s clearly the freakiest part of both versions. The skeletons Wendy sees were also quite effective. I liked the Jacksicle too, but DJ didn’t. The ending just wasn’t as good as the book’s ending. Overall, the story was creepy, just not the classic everyone wants me to say it is.
It’s a good stand alone movie in my eyes. Just don’t go in expecting the book on screen. I recommend it, but DJ doesn’t really. He suggests you hightail it over to the mini-series and watch that instead.
My score: 57. DJ’s score: 38.
“Come play with us, Danny.”