The Shining (1980)

Part 8 of my 13 Ghost Movies of Halloween!


  • Directed by Stanley Kubrick
  • Starring Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd
  • Written by Stanley Kubrick
  • Horror
  • Rated R
  • 2hr 26mins
  • 13 June 1980


A man gets a job as the off-season caretaker of the Overlook Hotel, a remote hotel high in the Rocky Mountains. As he and his family settle in to their isolated home, things around the hotel start to get strange.

How’s the Story?

Based on Stephen King’s best novel – my opinion, maybe not a fact, but I’m saying it – , The Shining is one of my favorite horror movies of all time. Again, as you will notice is a trend with my favorites, it’s another that really fits that gothic lit mood, with the slow-burn build up to a truly spectacular and fast climax. I love this story, because again, it’s scary as hell but in an eerie way. While this one does have some blood and gore and gross stuff, it is still scary because of the anticipation and the inability to be sure what’s happening. Honestly, this one could easily be argued to not be a ghost movie, because that’s part of what makes it great! The question of is it or isn’t it? Is it haunted? Are they just seeing things? Is it all in Jack’s head? Nobody knows, but there’s a compelling argument for ghosts, so it fits!

How’s the Acting?

This movie has legendary acting. It’s partially because the actors are good and partially because the direction is sketchy as hell. But honestly, this is the most iconic Jack Nicholson role there is. Obviously, the acting is good. That goes without saying.

How’s the Writing/Directing?

The writing is good if you don’t know the original. I’m not a stickler for “THE MOVIE HAS TO BE LIKE THE BOOK!” but the movie goes out of its way to change some shit for the worse, not the better. I don’t generally compare books and movies, but I prefer movies change things to fit a story told better in a film because that’s the whole point of adaptation, to tell the story best in film version. However, there are things from the book that would have worked better than what they chose to do in the movie, and I really find that annoying. However, at face value, it’s a well written film with a lot of really intricately woven plot points that make it a very uncomfortable film in the best way possible.

The directing is pretty sketchy, honestly. It’s very effective, but psychologically torturing your actors into giving you the performance you want is some of that sketchy old Hollywood bullshit (that isn’t really ‘old Hollywood’ at all, that stuff still happens) and I’m not into that. Kubrick made good films, but the guy was abusive as hell. Kinda sucks that it worked so well, because I hate enjoying the results of employee abuse.

How’s the Cinematography?

This film is stunning. The use of long-takes, long shots, and open areas makes the idea of isolation apparent from the very beginning. The long, ominous drive shown from overhead really builds on the very gothic theme of isolation and being far away from help, and it’s just sooo good. This movie is more atmosphere than anything, and I looooove it. There are shots in here that are more terrifying for their feel than for what’s in them.

Is It Worth Watching?

Oh come on. It’s The Shining. Of COURSE it’s worth watching.

My Rating: 9/10

About J. Chelsea Williford

Movie addict, reader, writer, pop culture lover.
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