Written by Joseph Holgate, who you can follow on Twitter at @joerodholgate

Hello everyone! Welcome back to Fresh Perspective, where I’ll be reviewing films I’ve never seen before. This week I’ll be delving into Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining (1980). Whilst it delivers probably the most reputable line in cinematic history, the film failed to live up to all the hype and notoriety associated with it.

Fresh Perspective on Female First

Fresh Perspective on Female First

Jack Nicholson puts in the performance of a lifetime in The Shining / Photo Credit: Warner Bros
Jack Nicholson puts in the performance of a lifetime in The Shining / Photo Credit: Warner Bros

Kubrick’s adaptation centres around Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson), an avid writer who takes on the role as the Overlook Hotel’s off-peak caretaker. Accompanying him is his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and psychic son Danny (Danny Lloyd).

What was meant to be a serene getaway in the frigid Colorado Rockies quickly manifests into the deterioration of Jack’s sanity as supernatural forces are at play. Apparitions of the doomed, trapped in the foundations of the hotel, torment Jack’s mental stability, endangering the lives of his family.

As the hotel’s murderous intent seeps into Jack’s psyche, Wendy and Danny have to come to terms with his homicidal aggression, ultimately leading to his wintry death.

First impressions

When I was growing up, The Shining was one of those films I dreaded to watch. Everyone told me about Jack’s devilish demeanour and Wendy’s shrilling shrieks. I was genuinely scared to put it on. What a farce! I cannot honestly understand why it received critical reappraisal. However, I can see why it was nominated for two inaugural Razzies.

Come on Channel 4! All time scariest moment? Really?! Even Stephen King bloody hated it.

Pretty much everything about the film was abysmal. Jack Nicholson’s performance as the tortured writer was just unrealistic, not to mention uncomfortable. The constant teeth clenching and sudden outbursts were almost humorous to watch and definitely failed to frighten me.

Shelley Duvall as Wendy in The Shining / Photo Credit: Warner Bros.
Shelley Duvall as Wendy in The Shining / Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Furthermore, Shelley Duvall’s portrayal as Wendy Torrance was just outright confusing. She lacked any real identity. I could not sympathise for her as it didn’t seem feasible to believe she was actually being stalked by her husband. She was crazier than Jack with the soul-piercing screeches and immoderate mannerisms.

The most confusing and disappointing thing about The Shining however, was that I couldn’t grasp where it was going. For one second Wendy was asleep and the next Jack was dead. It was extremely difficult to pinpoint the climax of the film.

The only salvageable speck of redemption Kubrick’s adaption offered was the agoraphobic sensation of the Overlook Hotel. The spacious and empty hallways coupled with the icy isolation of the Colorado Rockies truly made me feel uneasy.

Final thoughts


Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining was ultimately quite a disappointing watch. Putting it simply, it wasn’t scary, accurate or convincing. I wouldn’t even call it a horror film, which is a massive shame considering it originally came from the brain of the Horror King himself.

The ghostly twins and the hideous hag were atrociously portrayed. The twins were too bright. The dresses were pink and blue, which is definitely too luminous for horror film. You just wouldn’t associate pastel colours with demonic figures.

All in all, I was quite disheartened to learn that a film I’ve always wanted to watch, and heard good things about, was utterly poor.

Join me next week as I watch The Big Lebowski (1998) by the Cohen Brothers.

See ya next time!