Thank you to those lovely cinemas that appreciate the need to show younger generations such classics as Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. A pioneer in screening classic cinema in the north, Hyde Park Picture House’s Creatures of the Night series has struck out once again. The queue went round the corner, the popcorn and coffee bought by the bucket, and soon darkness descended within the theatre.
We could not have asked for a more perfect setting. The decadence of the picture house’s interior rivaled that of the distinctly dated furnishings of the 1970s hotel. The plush red seats just comfortable enough to sink into and cower behind the rows ahead as we watched an axe-wielding Jack Torrance ripped through the hotel.
The film is a masterpiece, a gem of cinematic history. The suspense chills as much as the snowy grounds of the hotel. The framing of the events, with the ominous warning of the ‘cabin fever’ that can set in introduced in the opening scenes, forces us to know what is about to happen, but makes us plead for it not all the more. The many parodies that have sprouted from The Shining, whether of the little girls, Jack poking his head through the torn down door, or ‘REDRUM’ reflected in the mirror, it can be hard to watch this without knowing what might happen next. But this can make it all the more difficult to watch. We all know how it ends, and it’s just a matter of when.
The stillness of the grand hotel, with each room suspended in time, ready to reopen when the snow shifts, is the eeriest of settings. It is nothing like a haunted hotel we might expect from a Halloween release scary movie, but one that really intends to leave an impression upon the mind, telling us that even the most spectacular of settings, such as an entirely gold music hall, can be a scene for terror. The quiet atmosphere is frightening even before we meet any of the ghostly characters.
Yes Jack Nicholson is one of Hollywood’s finest, but it is the young Danny, Jack and Wendy’s son, that steals the show. From channeling his frightening imaginary friend Tony, to his genius in escaping the wrath of his father, he completes one of the most thrilling films of the 1980s, and since.