The Shining – review

Spoilers abound, Beware

Horror trope bingo — The possessed child, the demonic presence, the axe-wielding maniac. What holds them together is unquestionably Jack Nicholson, who starts by elevating passive-aggressive into an artform before dropping the passive and turning axe-wielding into an artform. His remarkable facial elasticity lends a unique dimension to classic movie-psycho intensity. However, for all his brilliance, I must confess to not being emotionally moved by The Shining, for which I can think of a few reasons. One is personal. I’ve never resonated with horror’s more fantastical elements — I find the threat of the occult presence and all its visionings oblique, even a little silly. Beneath me? To some extent, though I’m open to arguments in its favour (or perhaps just a scarier film). The other reason is Kubrick. Both The Shining and 2001 have grounds for their cool outward personas, yet it also serves to shield them from warmer scrutiny, and I wonder whether his clinical methodology kept me detached from the drama. If that sounds a little undecided, allow me to bring you home with a straightforward certainty. Scary Jack is worth the entrance money alone.


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