The Shining

Alright, this one is less of a review, more of a play-by-play. To be honest, most of my reviews are, but Thom’s Play-By-Plays doesn’t have the same kind of flow. Yeah, so, I’ve seen this a few times before, and, while enjoyable, and featuring some great performances, I’ve never entirely got the hype surrounding it. We’ll see if it fares any better this time.

Throughout this review, I’ll be referring to the characters by different names. I’m annoying like that. Here’s the cast that I talk about a various times though, with their different names.

  • Jack Torrance – Jack Nicholson
  • Wendy Torrance – Shelly Duvall, Olive Oyl
  • Danny Torrance – Danny Lloyd
  • Scatman Crothers – Dick Hallorann

Opening drive. This scene is cool, I dunno why, but I’ve always liked this scene. Maybe it’s just the majestic nature of that long road with the water nearby, it’s beautiful.

After the beginning of Jack Nicholson’s interview, it cuts to his wife and son having breakfast, and the little boy is being weird with Olive Oyl. This serves as an introduction to Tony too. Back to the interview again – Nicholson looks bored. He’s warned about the isolation involved in the job and he likes the sound of that. He got the job — if he didn’t, this could be a boring film. Danny first shows his psychic ability. Nicholson’s hair is still…there.

They’re driving there, talking about the Donner Party. No idea why I’m going into depth on this. It’s all just setting the scene at this point. They get there. The little boy sees creepy little girls. Looks like they ruined his game of darts. The two adult Torrances are walking with Stuart Ullman. Ullman looks like Ed Hurley from Twin Peaks. Well, they have similar hair anyway.

Duval and Danny meet Scatman Crothers. He has the Shining. “What’s up Doc?” from Hong Kong Phooey?! Thanks for letting me know about that James, you Nintendo Nerd. Him and Danny talk about the Shining, and Room 237. “There ain’t nothing in Room 237!” Yeaaaaaah, we’ll see if that’s true. Well, I know, as I’ve seen this before, but I’ll let it go for now. Jack is going in with his tennis ball!

Now Danny on his tricycle. One of those iconic scenes the film produced. Really haven’t seen all that much of Nicholson yet, despite how my words may have come across. The mother and son are briefly having a walk through the maze, Nicholson looks at a model of it which transforms to the real thing. Dunno why, but I found this funny for some reason.

Danny is back on his trike, sees 237. Don’t go in kid! He doesn’t. You can’t going all in with a psychological film like this that quickly. Jack’s on his typewriter. “Get a lot written today?” “Yes.” He’s started a kind of passive-abusive relationship and the film has barely started. I thought the happiness went on a bit longer, but hey, had to get into it at some point. Oh yeah, and the phones aren’t working. Nightmare.

Danny sees the two girls. They want to play, but they’re dead. Nightmare. For them. And Danny I suppose. Very bad dreams seem to be a recurring theme, at least in my review. It’s just like pictures in a book Danny. According to Holloran anyway — that looked pretty real to me.

Jack Nicholson is wearing spandex. Oh God, he has gone crazy already. He wants his son to have a good time. That’s nice of him. Probably be better if you didn’t try to murder him. Ahh, can’t believe I forgot the spoiler alert. Yeah, spoilers. It’s not like it’s a new release or a huge twist, don’t flame me!

Danny goes into 237. That’s it. The segue is a fade to Wendy. Jack’s going mental, dribbling, moaning, you name it, he’s doing it. He dreamt he killed Wendy and Danny. Ahh, a foreboding. Or is it? No more spoilers from me. Until I get to it, obviously. Danny is here and he’s been harmed. Poor kid. Jack looks absolutely crazy, yet stoic at the same time.

He’s at the Gold Room now. Having a chat with Lloyd. This is probably the best scene of the film. It makes me want a Jack Daniels, but that’s irrelevant. I think Jack is in a similar situation to me. Luckily for Jack, he can get a bourbon, because Lloyd is not busy! A revelation occurs here, a previous episode of abuse occurred on Danny three years past, which he attempts to justify as a loss of muscular control. Wendy runs in and tells Jack about a woman in a room; “Are you out of your fucking mind?”

Scatman has great photos on his wall. Ahhh yeah! Yeah, anyway, more Shining business occurring here, Dick feels it, Danny is dribbling. Dribbling, like bad dreams, seems like a recurring theme. This film is better than I remember to be honest.

Jack seems scared at first when he sees the woman, but this turns to happiness when he sees her naked body. Classic Nicholson here. He decides to risk his marriage by having a kiss. Then all hell breaks loose, she’s a bloody reanimated corpse! Well, an old woman at least. Whatever that was, I’m glad he got out of there, I couldn’t look at that much longer. He leaves and says he saw nothing. I couldn’t keep that a secret, but that was a pretty convincing lie. Fair enough, but now he’s trying to convince Wendy that Danny is self-harming. Woah, Jack!  (Woah, Arthur!) He ends it with this phrase that continues to stick in my mind:

Wendy, I have let you fuck up my life so far, but I am not going to let you fuck this up!

Nice guy. So, he’s off to the ballroom now, and there’s a party! Jack’s happy to see Lloyd again. More free drinks! Yes! Anyway, he goes off and Delbert Grady spills a drink or two on him, before taking him to the toilet. Not as bad as it sounds. Grady was the caretaker here. No wait, Jack has always been the caretaker here. Who knows? If my brother is right, Rob Ager of Collative Learning knows what’s going on, I may have to check some of his stuff out at some point. But yeah, Grady has always been here himself, throwing in a little bit of racism every now and then. It has a point — he’s letting him know about Crothers and Danny’s ability. Speaking of which, Dick is on his way back now.

Wendy has come to the typewriter to find “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” multiple times You probably already knew that. Many, many times. Jack’s here now, scaring his wife with a simple question. She’s not going to enjoy the rest of the film. Yeah, so, direct confrontation here. Nicholson’s sarcasm is absolutely hilarious here.

You’ve had your whole fucking life to think things over!

The scene climaxes with Jack following Wendy up a staircase, with many classic lines. Among them:

I’m not going to hurt you, I’m just going to bash your brains in! Bash ’em right the fuck in!

Wendy decides to make the first strike. Also the last strike, as after a small knock, a huge baseball bat shot to the head knocks him down the stairs. Whammy! Nicholson is being dragged to a storage room, dribbling once again. Now he’s locked in there. He’s completely deranged now, letting Wendy know that methods of outside contact and escape have been sabotaged. Not much she can do really. Grady lets Jack out of the room. That came out of nowhere. His intentions are made clear now.

Dick Hallorann is back. Danny’s on his REDRUM vibe. Well, Tony is at least. Jesus, he’s got a knife. That’s not safe, put it down kid. Play with some crayons or something. Perhaps not the best advice, how about lipstick? Maybe even worse. Wendy sees murder in the mirror, and murder’s about to burst through the door with his best Johnny-Carson-introduction-impression! Danny has escaped, but Wendy can’t fit through the window. It’s time for the scene that you know, even if you’ve never seen the film…here’s Johnny! To retort, Wendy cuts his hand open. That’s got to hurt! Scatman’s coming in, and Nicholson’s on the prowl. Poor Hallorann gets an axe to the heart.

Jack’s looking for Danny now. One of the weirdest scenes I’ve ever seen occurs here, Wendy witnesses a guy in a bear suit fellating a man on a bed. I’ve still got no explanation for this one. Shelly goes on to see Hallorann’s body on the floor, as well as a bloodied man complimenting the party. Certainly not a party for the rest of them. A trifecta of creepiness for the lady, as she witnesses the river of blood from the elevator. Not going well for her at all.

Yeah, so it’s the climax now, Danny is a smart kid who manages to outwit his father who goes on to freeze to death. He escapes the maze and finds his mother. The end. Not how you’d expect it to end, really, but it’s effective. I would say I could explain the problems the guy is going through for anyone who is interested, but I won’t attempt to act smart, as anyone with access to the internet could likely find as much as I know. This is just my way of letting you know I’m a psychology student. No reason for me to bring that up, I’ll just bring this to a close now. The end shows an old-time photo, from the July 4th Ball at the Overlook Hotel in 1921, with Torrance in the middle, confirming what has been stated throughout the film.

One thing I have neglected to mention is how important the hotel is to the film. It seems like a living organism itself, what with things moving and changing throughout. I’m not going to go into detail though, if you’ve seen it, you’ll know what I mean. If you haven’t, go watch it now!

You know, all in all, I enjoyed this so much more than any other time I’ve watched it. My brother loves it, and I think I just like to disagree, but it is a very good film. Very well thought out, with many hidden meanings that I just can’t go into here – this is already a huge post, especially by my standards. I’d recommend consulting him, or checking out the aforementioned Collative Learning, give it a Google, it’s likely you’ll find it entertaining. For anyone who hasn’t seen it, give it a go. You shouldn’t be disappointed! This film cements Jack Nicholson’s position as one of Hollywood’s all-greats, with films such as One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest to his name, there’s no disputing it, and this just builds upon his legacy. So that’s about it then. Hope you’ve enjoyed reading it, let me know what you think! Oh yeah, and keep an eye out for my next review too. It’ll be good, I promise!

  1. 237joel said:

    I would like to see A Clockwork Orange review! What do you think? 🙂

    • I’ll see if I can find time to do one over the summer! Thanks for your interest!

  2. Bill Jensen said:

    I’d really like to see a review of a popular 90’s movie entitled “The Sandlot.”

    • I’ll see what I can do in the future, thanks for your interest!

    • Yeah, the opening is one of my favourite parts of the film, I agree with you on that, definitely! Thanks for the like, too!

  3. Great job Thom! I like this film more and more with every re-watch!

    • Thanks man, appreciate it! Yeah, I feel exactly the same, I can’t believe my opinion of it had slipped so much since I first watched it!

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