Author Topic: The Shining (1980)  (Read 758 times)

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Offline Khushrenada

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The Shining (1980)
« on: January 04, 2021, 06:41:19 PM »
I was going to post this in the Rate the Last Movie and then I realized I should follow my own advice and just start a thread for it.  :rolleyes:

I'll preface this by stating that, for the most part, I'm not a fan of the horror genre and very little of it is effective. The few times it can conjure genuine fright or get under the skin is often when it isn't necessarily trying to be a horror film but more a hybrid thriller or possible sci-fi scenario like Jaws or Jurassic Park or Alien. Or when it might be something I've already got a fear of like Piranha. I guess when it is almost sort of closer to man vs nature that it can work for me. But often when it is a horror film based on the supernatural or a slasher / serial killer movie than I either find the whole thing dumb / artificial and kind of laughable or else it is just a miserable experience of watching people suffer and die for no good reason. (Although horror films try to justify it by making some of the victims seem like jerks in some manner or that they deserve such a horrible comeuppance but I'm never really on the side of the killer.)

So, with that out of the way, I found The Shining to mainly be on the laughable side of things. Jack Nicholson gives the comic performance of his career. I think part of the reason I've never gotten around to watching The Shining is because The Simpsons spoiled and summarized it up so well over a couple decades ago. That said, when watching Ready Player One, it had a large portion of the plot dedicated around this movie and I realized then that there was more to it than I realized or knew. However, having seen all that Ready Player One had in it and what The Simpsons did in the Treehouse of Horror version of it, there really weren't any surprises on watching it now. So, that could be a factor in lessening the impact and tension the movie may have once had or could have had on first viewing but there have been other movies I've gone into without really knowing what all is in it or how it will unfold even with some prior knowledge and still finding the whole thing absolutely ridiculous, like A Nightmare on Elm Street for example.

Here's a bunch stuff off the top of my head though after watching it:

-So, first there's the story in the job interview about a previous caretaker losing his mind and killing his family. And you know what? That's fine. That alone works. Isolation, strange noises, unfamiliar locale. All of that can play on the mind and then hearing that story could plant a seed in the mind and cause one to think about it more now that they're in the sort of same situation. But then it also has to lay it on thick with it possibly being around the same area as the Donner Party and the hotel manager telling them it was built on an Indian Burial Ground (which always seems to be the land developers want to build on the most!). It's not enough to be a psychological thriller but the place has to have a history of bad juju.

-That bad psychic history is probably there also due to Danny boy having a sort of unexplained psychic ability: The Shining! Which mainly exists to try and create dread for the future along with showing the horror of the past. As well as try and make the kid creepy near the end with his throaty voice and red rum chanting.

-Speaking of red rum, there was another Simpsons episode where Marge sells the Flanders a house that once had a killing in it and Rod or Todd is chanting red room, red room because he wants to paints his room red. At first, I thought that's also what was being said here. There's a scene with Jack when he's in a very red washroom having a conversation with another character. I thought maybe Danny is referencing this red room as a warning for the fall of their father. But then after, he's still chanting and saying red rum. I was wondering if that was supposed to be on purpose to confuse the mother for awhile until she figures out and finds a red room. I was still going on the basis that a child wrote and misspelled red room when Danny first has the vision of a door with those words because of that Simpsons reference. When he began writing the words on the door, I thought it odd how a child could write and the D and R backwards was correct especially when the first R was done the right way. It wasn't until he was finishing up the M that I realized it was supposed to be spelling murder backwards which Shelley's character immediately sees in the mirror a few seconds after.

-When Jack's first telling his wife to not interrupt him when he works and to GTFO, I was laughing more at the delivery and much of an ass he was already at character-wise. He almost seems to be doing his Joker performance here except I think his Joker performance was actually a bit more restrained and less crazy than here! It occurred to me that the idea of playing a character who goes insane or slowly crazy is probably a role that would be highly appealing to a performer yet watching this I realized that it's a role which could also go off the rails depending on how its done which seems to happen with Nicholson's performance through a lot of this.

-At the same time, there's never really anything that shows, indicates or gives any kind of build-up to Jack's character losing it. The movie just jumps to a month later after getting to the hotel. He seems to be experiencing writer's block based on Shelley's character trying to give him encouragement and that seems to be angering him but there's nothing to show he's bothered by the isolation both of the area and that which he's self-imposing on himself. There's a scene where he's staring out the window and the film sort of snaps with static and colored lines to indicate the mental break is happening but it's just so sudden for the audience because of the time jump and having seen him, I guess, ok when getting the tour of the hotel. It just seems like he's crazy from the get-go and with the way he seems to be already annoyed with his family on the trip to the hotel, maybe he just got fed-up being stuck with them even longer.

-That said, when Jack gives his account of the arm incident to the bartender, that's a good monologue and really comes the closest we get to getting into his head of what he's feeling and thinking on. I suppose it might explain why he has that annoyance with his family which is perhaps more guilt at himself. As well, the scene where he and Danny talk for a bit and Danny asks if he would ever hurt him or mom. There's a tenseness there of a man trying to say the right thing and be a good father but unable to emotionally say or indicate it and a child that's likewise sort of tense and a bit afraid of the father. The arm incident explains some of that with the growing unease of his odd behavior added but that moment just really worked for me. And then from the time Shelley begins swinging the bat at Jack to the end, I thought his performance was fine from then on as the madness was now embraced by the character and known to all. I don't think I laughed at anything else about the performance from then on.

-Although the ending shot of him staring up at the sky looking like a loon did get a final laugh from me.

-For a movie that references all kinds of past murders and death, it is surprising that it only had the one killing. When the head chef got back to the Overlook Hotel, the only thing I wasn't sure on was whether he was going to get Groundskeeper Willie'd. I thought it was highly likely and he did. Just in the front instead of the back like Willie. But seriously. You think there could be big trouble and people in danger. You're an old man but you'll just go alone. Won't bring any of the rangers or some other people with you just in case? I get that you may not want to seem crazy as your only reason for coming is a psychic communication from a child. A communication that can't tell you what exactly is going on but there's no one else with The Shining that you could bring with you or might be closer to the area that you have to go yourself? He said he met others. How many others are there? Would that maybe keep in touch someway? Seems like you may want to communicate with such ones about stuff you experience.

-What's up with room 237? The old guy said not to go in there but what's it about? Do guests use it during the summer or not? Did an old lady just drown there once? How'd the key get in the door and it end up unlocked? Can the ghost go to the front desk and get the key? Which brings me to...

-So, Jack talks with the ghost of the killer caretaker from the past and that ghost unlocks the pantry door so he can escape. It would seem that ghosts can open doors and locks. Likewise, Danny is hurt by the ghost in room 237. So, why aren't the ghosts just trying to kill the family? Why do they need to cause Jack to do it? If they can influence things, why not unlock the door to let Jack in and murder the family so that he doesn't have to hack the door down? Why not help Jack in the maze by writing in the snow or leading him to Danny? That's the problem with supernatural stories or The Force by Episode 9. Why can these powers suddenly fail and be limited later? Why are they always just so story convenient?

-Like a lot of child protagonists, Danny sucks because he clams up. If he'd just tell what he knew or the visions he was getting, a lot of things would probably be figured out sooner and problems avoided altogether. Even Tony, whatever he may be, sucks and is no help.

-When Danny was cycling through the halls and the camera was following behind him, it reminded of me of 2001 and the famous shot of one of the astronauts jogging in a circle.

-When Danny hides in a steel kitchen cupboard, it reminded me of Jurassic Park and the kids hiding in the kitchen from the velociraptors. Of course, that came out much later than this but nowadays anyone could see these films out of chronological order like me.

-The bartender Lloyd seems to possibly be the devil. Jack says he'd sell his soul for a drink and there he is. Later, he says the drinks are taken care of and won't accept Jack's money. Just that The House has taken care of it sort of further implying that he's now in possession of Jack's soul (with the expectation he’ll kill his family). Yet, throwing in the Devil makes things even more muddled about motivations.

-The red bathroom scene has the previous caretaker say Jack has always been the caretaker and then the movie ends with a shot of him at a 1921 party. Ok....? I guess the movie's trying to be mysterious and disorient the viewer but I just see it as non-sensical and dismiss it like an obvious red herring in a murder mystery. Irrelevant.

-While writing this, I decided to look up Roger Ebert's review of it under his Great Movies section. He has a different take on the whole movie that doesn't get into what I was pondering. Maybe this is mentioned in the book or elsewhere but I was wondering if Jack also had The Shining. It makes the most sense to me. The head cook tells Danny that him and his mother had it and it wasn't until later that he realized others did. So, the shining could be genetic. Danny's mother obviously doesn't or at least there's no indication until the end when she can suddenly see ghosts in the hotel and the elevator pool of blood that Danny saw at the beginning. However, Jack is able to see many of the apparitions of the hotel. He has a dream of murdering his family sort of like how Danny sees the appearance and demise of the two daughters from the past murder. Yet, the ghost of the past caretaker says Danny has a great talent but does not indicate Jack has it or what that talent is.

-Visually, the movie is quite strong. The cinematography, the set design, and the music all work. Although, I have this thing with horror movies and honing in on the music as it tries to tap in and create unease with its sound and acknowledging to myself that what I’m seeing isn’t really scary but just the music trying to do some heavy lifting to make it that way. But I did like the chanting that was happening as Jack ran through the hedge maze. Like all these mad voices in his head driving him forward. So, I appreciate the movie on its technical aspects and it’s worth a watch on those. It’s just too bad the story wasn’t quite the slam dunk to make it a complete package.

-I thought running in the maze was a bad idea especially with fresh snow as one could just follow the path you create to catch up and that is what Jack is doing. Danny had the sense to realize this and create a sort of false path. I’m not sure a child in that situation would be that clever but I appreciated that the problem of footprints in the snow was considered and handled. At the same time, it should be obvious to Jack that he just needs to double back then as there is no way the footprints would stop but I can buy that at that point, he’s just too out of his mind to be thinking straight and would just continue on down a path in pursuit.

Guess that’s it. There might have been other things but I’ve typed enough and can’t think what else there may have been at this moment. I will say this about the movie: even though it frustrated me or was more comedic than it may have meant, I watch a lot of movies and they don’t motivate me to immediately talk about them or dissect them like this one did so I suppose there is something about it that makes it a bit greater than the sum of its parts.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2021, 06:46:10 PM by Khushrenada »

Offline ThePerm

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Re: The Shining (1980)
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2021, 03:08:02 PM »
The Shining and the Thing are two movies I can watch over and over.

Jack was losing it before he got to the hotel.

His turn is quick and a bit jarring on the surface, but pay close attention to the social workers visit to Wendy. There are some inconsistencies to the story Wendy tells and the story Jack tells the bartender indicating that there is a long term pattern of abuse between Jack and Danny.  Jack hit Danny a few months ago and 3 years ago. He was probably the one who hit Danny in room 237. We never see Danny encounter the Hag.  What actually happened in room 237?
Was Danny just covering up for Jack about getting beat? Was Danny the one who actually let Jack out of the Freezer? Jack hates Wendy. Every time he talks to her he is absolutely resentful. Even when they're in the car and they're talking about the Donner party, he's sarcastically bemused about how she let Danny learn about the Donner party from the TV. Jack despises her, and thinks she's a hag who has ruined his life. He tells her directly that she is the reason his life is fucked up. Jack has been thrust in the position of provider, but he's a loser, a drunk, an abusive father, and a hack writer and can't handle it. You don't see a build up in the movie, but it's been building up for years and it's just now boiling to the surface. We don't know all the other weird stuff that happened during the month from the title card.

Also, there is an interesting theory about there not being ghosts in the movie. There is a good indication that the whole cast of characters are insane.  The hag he sees in room 237? Not a ghost, it's just what Jack thinks of his wife.  Hollaran, not a psychic just a delusional quack. Danny? Inherits mental illness from Jack. Wendy? See's the ghost only when she's experiencing a traumatic experience. What she sees could just be her thoughts of the place as she decides to leave. The furries? They might not be ghosts. They could have been kinky people who snuck into the hotel. Also, Charles Grady was the guy who killed his family. Delbert Grady is just some guy who Jack made up in his head. Charles Grady killed his family in 1970, Delbert Grady is from the 20s. "When you rule out the other explanations..."

Though there is definitely something weird going on in Mr Ullman's office. How is there a window to the outside? You walk around the other side and it's just a hallway with some elevators. This was done intentionally. The dimensions of the hotel don't make sense in a lot of other ways. The camera is continuous in some scenes which indicates they had to move the set in real time to make this effect happen. Also, pay attention to the directions Danny goes as he goes around the hotel. He always turns in one direction. Fast forward to the maze: He turns in the other direction to resolve the conflict. There is a teddy bear early in the movie with a red handkerchief cloth thingy laying exactly where Hollaran get's killed when Jack is bouncing the ball.

There's a clap at the end of the movie indicating your watching a movie watching a movie.

You should check out the film Room 237
https://www.amazon.com/Room-237-Bill-Blakemore/dp/B00C3C0QB6

Endless theories.

NWR has permission to use any tentative mockup/artwork I post