review for The Shining on AllMovie

The Shining (1980)
by Lucia Bozzola review

Eliminating most of the supernatural episodes from the original Stephen King novel, Stanley Kubrick's version of The Shining is at once a coolly ironic near-parody (with a Jack Nicholson performance that defines "over the top") and a genuinely chilling dissection of how a family breaks down when the father cannot (or does not want to) perform his duties as provider and protector. Making the most of the then-new Steadicam technology for intricate camera movements, Kubrick renders the hotel and maze palpable as Danny moves through them, while turning the Overlook itself into an eerily threatening entity, punctuated by Danny's vividly disturbing shinings. It isn't just Jack who is psychotic: it is the hotel and all it represents about the American system. Positioned to be a summer hit, The Shining was released to decidedly mixed reviews (including from King, who vocally objected to Kubrick's alterations of his novel); although it was the most successful movie Kubrick had made, it did not become the blockbuster that he had hoped. Despite this checkered reception, Kubrick's ability to combine icy detachment with visceral dread makes The Shining a profoundly creepy interrogation of madness, memory, and familial disintegration.