Yesterday, this column reviewed "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," a thriller based on a book from a popular series. When books succeed at scaring readers, filmmakers assume they can scare viewers even more handily and often adapt such books for the screen. An example is "The Shining," which came out in 1980 and is based on a book by celebrated author Stephen King. Just as the most scary sequences in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" take place in isolated snowbound locations, so too does "The Shining" feature terrifying scenes in a cold, lonely place.
"The Shining" stars Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance, a recovering alcoholic who takes a job as a caretaker to a large, remotely-located hotel during the winter. Here, he hopes to work on his writing. He moves into the old hotel with his loving wife, Wendy (played by Shelley Duvall), and young son, Danny. Shortly after they arrive, Danny meets Dick Hallorann, who works at the hotel. They soon discover they both have the "shining," where they can communicate over long distances without talking. Soon, disturbances by seemingly supernatural forces become more and more frequent, and the longer Jack stays in the hotel, the more psychotic he becomes. Danny "shines" to Dick, who may be their only hope.
"The Shining" was directed by Stanley Kubrick. He makes the film visually stunning and highly suspenseful. The scenes outside at night, in the cold weather, are terrifying. The scenes inside the hotel capitalize on its old-world grandeur and spaciousness.
Jack Nicholson is in top-form as Jack Torrance. He seems real as he becomes more unbalanced. Nicholson makes a great villain. Shelley Duvall is also good as Wendy, who loves her husband but ceases to recognize him as his behavior becomes more confrontational as the story proceeds.
"The Shining" is a great choice for fans of Jack Nicholson or fans of horror.