Having left his teaching job, Jack Torrance accepted a caretaker job at an isolated hotel in the mountains, bringing his family along with him. However, his son showed reluctance to their temporary move, visions of horror flooding his mind. It's immediately established that the boy has some kind of talent, manifested through his 'imaginary friend'. Nevertheless, the family moves into the hotel, and as they lived there, strange things started to happen.
The first few minutes of the film already lays down the groundwork of the entire run - the story of the previous caretaker, Danny's talent, and a hint of what one might possibly encounter in the film. The storytelling was direct, though it uses details that leaves things to interpretation. Not like all movies, a lot of theories surround the film - from the photograph, the ghosts, the room, - pretty much everything that Kubrick throws on the screen. I spent some time researching on these theories after watching the film - the interpretations certainly vary, though as of now, I'm taking this film in face value. I'd have to give the film multiple viewings for further understanding of these theories.
What I agree with is that the whole film is about the breakdown of man's psyche, as evidence by the madness Jack goes through during their stay. It may have been the case of the cabin fever, as there were really no indications that a screw was slowly turning loose, until the scene in the bar. He was conversing with said ghosts, indicating his descent to madness. Whereas at the latter part of the film, Wendy too began seeing figures. Instead of allowing herself to be drawn into the madness, she runs away. She refuses to get sucked into the world that her husband lived in, and instead thought about the safety of her son.
Jack Nicholson was very good as Jack Torrance - his monologue when he was threatening Wendy floored me. He really had command of the screen, and had improved his performance once the latter half of the film started rolling in. Danny Lloyd was quite the child actor as well; his performance wasn't campy or unrealistic. The kid could definitely go on scaring people. It was Shelley Duvall whom I had a bit of a problem with. Despite showing emotions on cue, it was kind of difficult to buy to her performance as she looked a bit apathetic as well.
The scenes were also filmed well - the tracking shot of Danny in his trike was excellent, and the framing manages to capture the grandeur of the set, not to mention the reactions of the cast as the film progressed. Despite being a horror film, it was oddly vibrant; the color schemes were rich, and the place was well-lit. The music also set tone to the atmosphere of the film; I found myself shutting my eyes when I know something horrific was about to happen.
It left me with a few unexplained questions, though some pointed out that these were discussed in Stephen King's book, so I will look into that. All in all, it was a fantastic, thrilling film that does manage to scare first time viewers. It also merits multiple viewings, though I have yet to see if the scare factor is still evident.
Final Word: Worth of its iconic status.
Cast: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd
Director: Stanley Kubrick