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The Shining - horror/sci-fi DVD review
The Shining rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America curledupdvd.com rating: 5 stars
Actors: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd, Scatman Crothers, Barry Nelson
Director: Stanley Kubrick   Studio: Dreamworks Video
DVD release: 21 June 2001   Runtime: 143 minutes (1 disc)
Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, Original recording remastered, NTSC
DVD features: Subtitles (Spanish), Audio tracks (English, Dolby Digital 5.1)

Based on Stephen King's masterpiece of modern horror, Stanley Kubrick's The Shining still remains one of the most nightmarishly chilling haunted house (okay, it's a hotel, but that just makes it all the scarier) stories of all time. The premise of this gothic epic is simple. Jack Torrance, portrayed by the irrepressible Jack Nicholson, lands a job as caretaker of the Overlook Hotel in an isolated part of Colorado. He eventually brings his family up to the place, son Danny (Danny Lloyd) and wife Wendy (Shelly Duvall). It's here that Danny shows signs of ability to "shine" - he can see into the past and the future. And it's not too long before their domestic upheaval intertwines with the ghosts of the Overlook's past.

Kubrick combines elements of intellectual thriller with his intense vision of terror, giving the viewer both a thrilling visceral experience as well as a cerebral one. This makes The Shining rise above any preconceived notions of what the horror genre should or could be; it delivers in spades. Kubrick was keen to add much symbolism and visual references of duality - the blood-soaked Grady twins, for example. There is also clever use of mirrors throughout the film, from Danny's introduction of his finger friend, Tony, to Jack discovering the woman in the tub to be not so young and beautiful, and of course the "redrum" close up as Jack takes his first hack at the door with the axe. More clever tricks with mirrors and camera angles pop up throughout the film.

I can wax poetic about Jack Nicholson's performance, the casting choices, Kubrick's brilliance, the shots of desperate isolation, the house being a major character in the story, and the stunning cinematography. But for me, the music is just as much a star in this movie as everyone else. What strikes a chord is the opening sequence, where Wendy Carlos's interpretation of the death march "Dies Irae" plays over the picturesque helicopter shots of the Torrance family Volkswagen as it snakes its way up the mountain. The dichotomy of stunningly beautiful shots set against the incredibly haunting music totally sucks you into the film from the first frame. Though it seems like it's the demise of Jack's sanity, Kubrick never tips his hat in this film, forcing you to think. You never really know for sure if it's just Jack or the whole family's sanity falling prey to the power of the ghosts. A classic horror film. Redrum, redrum, redrum!
reviewed by Bobby Blades
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