2015 marks the 35th anniversary of Stanley Kubrick’s horror masterpiece The Shining. Kubrick’s movies are known to never lose their quality over time and the film has not lost any of its spine-chilling suspense whilst the performances of Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall are as memorable as ever. Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, Kubrick took great liberty with the material. King was frustrated that Kubrick concentrated on the inherent evil of the characters when the real terror was within the Overlook Hotel. King continues to belittle the 1980 movie due to his novel being so life threateningly dull that he wrote a sequel aptly called Doctor Sleep. Debates between novel and film will rage on but The Shining will always rightfully have its place in the canon of the horror genre.
The plot sees Jack Torrance, a recovering alcoholic, who takes on the job of becoming caretaker of the isolated Overlook Hotel for the Winter. Undisturbed by the former caretaker ‘chopping his wife and daughter up into little bits and then blowing his brains out by putting both barrels of a shotgun in his mouth’, Jack collects his wife and son and sets out on the vacation of a lifetime. Straight away we can see from the car journey up the mountains that Jack’s family are the source of his ire. His son thinks he has psychic ability by talking in a stupid voice to his finger whilst his wife pisses and moans anytime she breaths air. Once there, they are shown around the exquisite architecture of the Hotel and told, how in centuries gone, it was built on an old burial ground where thousands of native Indians were brutally slaughtered and dismembered. Over a bowl of chocolate ice cream chef Dick Halloran, a man of true honor and respect, then puts the shits up Danny by telling him the hotel is full of demons. However, Danny pays no attention to this threat and just continues to talk to his finger in the comic stylings of Tom Waits.
After everyone in the hotel has got the fuck out of dodge, the Torrances’ are left in peace to take of care of the Overlook. Jack is initially the picture of happiness at the solitude with which he can write. Although after a month staring blankly into his typewriter, surrounded by the works of Wordsworth, Heaney and Wilde, he comes to the stark realization that poetry is fucking shit and short stories are as about as useful as a life jacket on a bloke with one arm. In fact he would get more use out of the typewriter if he taped it around his head and used it as a funny hat to entertain his family. In Jack’s defense it would be quite difficult to concentrate when your six year old is bombing it around the halls on his three wheeler making all sorts of undue racket. Then ya have Wendy interrupting him every five minutes to explain the different type of sandwich she concocted in the kitchen. The resultant distractions force Jack to the bar to his old friend Lloyd for a well deserved bourbon and advocate.
Jack then reaches breaking point when Wendy runs in and informs him that the 30 degree hot wash he put on earlier has allowed all the colors to run thereby destroying all his clothes for the next seven months. Distraught by his amateur mistake he marches back to the typewriter to let loose the repetitive emotion tormenting him over the past month.
Wendy, of course, follows him in screaming about Danny’s Shining ability and that some crazy woman in the hotel attacked him.
‘Listen to me woman, if you don’t get out of my study this instant I will give you and that fucking young lad a three course knuckle supper. Then, we’ll see who’s fuckin’ ‘Shining’ in the morning!’
‘Yes Jack, but can you at least check?’
Jack then goes upstairs and spots a hot bird in a bath. After doing the business he goes down to celebrate in the bar with all his demonic mates and bumps into Grady, the former caretaker, in the jacks. He explains to him the importance of an axe in the family home and that I’m a Scatman Crothers is on his way to take his wife and son away and shut down the lock-in in the pub. Jack makes one last heartfelt plea to his wife to start caring for someone other than herself. It falls on deaf ears as Wendy smashes him over the head with a baseball bat and locks him into the food cellar stating ‘Ain’t no man tell me how to live my life!’
Jack then uses his locksmith skills from his time as a postman to escape and puts all his drive and ambition into making soup and sandwiches out of his wife and son. Knowing his wife would be in the bedroom en-suite, doing something, he immediately starts wielding the axe through the door. After breaking a panel through the door and screaming HERE’S JOHNNY, Jack didn’t count on Wendy being only halfway through doing her nails. So, she gives him a few belts of a Stanley knife forcing Jack to retreat.
Then, a hero comes along. The Scatman enters the hotel full of bravado and substance using his Shining as a guide. He sneaks like the desert fox up the hallway. Stalking and swooping the corridors. A General ready for war. However, what he didn’t ready himself for was a full force axe to the chest and, as a consequence, another true American hero gone down to defeat. Danny then remembers the ice cream he shared with the once gentle chef and runs pants shat away from Jack. He flees to the maze outside of the hotel grounds. Jack, however, didn’t bring the necessary layers and begins to freeze in his pursuit. Inevitably Jack is found with a bad dose of frostbite and is as of yet to thaw out. However, given that he was once a failed postman that then became a failed writer, that has now suffered the indignation of failing to catch his six year old son by failing to get out of a garden maze, my guess would be he’s happy where he is. Wendy and Danny, on the other hand, escaped and spent the rest of their lives travelling across America continuing to crush the mental stability in even the most humble of men.