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Review The Shining (1980): Visually a masterpiece, as a horror not so scary (Minor Spoilers!)

genre: horror




When it comes to spoilers and such I try to avoid them as much as possible. Since this is an older movie and the chance is real big it has already be seen by many I will include some. Minor ones but still you have be warned.

The first time I have heard of The Shining was when I was five or six years old. I remember seeing the famous scene when Jack was chasing his wife with the axe. At the time I was very impressed by it and remember being haunted by it a little. But it took me almost 25 years to actually watch the full movie as an adult. Before I watched it I was expecting a lot. Now after having seen it (multiple times) I have to say I am a bit disappointed. 

Visually it is stunning and impressive, the setting and the music was haunting. But the most important thing for a psychological thriller, is the fact that the story was lacking. I understand that Kubrick is trying to be abstract and maybe he wanted to give the viewers some freedom to use their own imagination to fill in some blanks and so making it creepier. But for me the story wasn't that abstract. They start a plot line about Danny and for some reason they don't use his talent to their advantage. Also I didn't experience a real change in Jack's Character. He is acting crazy right from the get go.  I understand that in the book the character is an ex-alcoholic who is struggling which adds a whole other dimension. In the movie you don't see the struggle and therefore is it more difficult to understand why Jack is acting the way he does. Personally the movie would be much creepier if Jack was the only character who could see the visions and ghosts. Because the boy with his psychic abilities doesn't work well for the story at all. As a plot line it intrigued me but judging the whole story it didn't really add and feels like a wasted opportunity.  Maybe I am spoiled having watched a lot horror films, but I must say that The Shining isn't shocking.  Compared to The Exorcist which still is a very unsettling film, it doesn't even come close. I like most of Kubrick's work. 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange and Full Metal Jacket. But The Shining did not have the same impact as those movies did to me. 

As a film fan I think you have to see this movie for the visuals, music and style. As a horror fan I can tell you this is not the scariest movie ever made. Sure there are some surprises, but not enough to give you chills all the way. I have to agree with some reviewers that this movie is very overrated! 



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