The Shining review (Blu-ray)

Writer Jack Torrance (Nicholson) takes his family – wife Wendy (Duvall) and son Danny (Lloyd) – to the Overlook Hotel, a remote outpost which closes down for the winter months and needs a caretaker. Jack's there to get some peace and quiet and write his book but a combination of isolation, a malevolent force and his young apparently psychic son having horrific visions results in a terrifying stay for all involved.

Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, this Kubrick masterpiece is disturbing, chilling horror at its very best. Nicholson is in prime form as the increasingly strung out writer while Duval is perfect as the wife on the edge of a nervous breakdown. But it's Kubrick's use of sound, music, light and stark, forbidding sets that makes this as unsettling as it is memorable.

The Shining is a film that I've always had a love-hate relationship with. I love it for the tone Kubrick gives it – the air of menace he brings with a simple camera move, rather than relying on blatant gore like so may other directors when they turn to horror. It is the cinematography, as well as the haunting score, that makes this film what it is.

Now on to why I hate it – the main reason being the fact that it is not an adaptation of the book by Stephen King. As well as changing major plot points, the biggest problem was the casting of Nicholson in the main role. King's story is about a man who is slowly taken over by the evil in the Overlook hotel, and his slow descent into madness. The problem with Nicholson is that he is clearly mad right from the start, which derails the main crux of King's story.

But that aside, it's still a chilling film to sit down and watch. Especially with the lights off. The Shining is simply one of the most genuinely frightening films of all time.

EXTRAS ★★★½ An audio commentary from Steadicam inventor and operator Garrett Brown, plus Kubrick biographer John Baxter; Vivian Kubrick's documentary The Making of The Shining (34:59), with an optional commentary; the featurette View from the Overlook: Crafting The Shining (30:22); the featurette The Visions of Stanley Kubrick (17:17); and the featurette Wendy Carlos, Composer (7:31).

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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