Reviews: The Shining

Brilliantly filmed, but lacking substance.

I avoided watching The Shining for a long time because as a huge fan of the book I knew that many creative liberties had been taken with the source material. Now that I've seen it I am feeling conflicted.

On the one hand, the direction of this film is top-notch. The use of fixed angles and oners, unsettling shots of the hotel interior and a truly terrifying and oppressive soundtrack give the film a unique quality which deserves high praise.

The problem is all this technical brilliance is misapplied to what is supposed to be a character-driven piece. Unlike the book the characters have little substance, and apart from Nicholson (who was acting too crazy from the start) the acting is dull and wooden. Shelley Duvall is good at screaming but little else, and Danny Lloyd is emotionless and has no investment in his lines.

Additionally, the film takes such a messy approach to the source material that I wonder what those who hadn't read the book thought of it. Without some of the context a lot of the film seems like a random events plot.

This is disappointing, because a faithful adaptation using the excellent techniques on display here could have been one of my all-time favourites. (The miniseries is more faithful, but is less well-filmed.)

As it stands The Shining is expertly crafted, but could have been so much more.