Ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooh! When reading this, please read that “Oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooh!” with a varying tone and pitch, like a ghost. I could of just said like a ghost, couldn’t I? Oh well…
It’s not Halloween yet but don’t get your [insert slutty halloween costume here] in a twist! If you’re like me, you don’t go scrounging for sweets in costumes. Instead, you, you lovely, reserved people, opt for choice of a good fright on film. I, however, am too much of a puss to go anywhere near gore porn, like Saw or Hostel, but don’t be having your mind tormented with psychological horror. In all seriousness, there’s no real need for this review, because most people have already seen it. Too late, I guess.
The story isn’t, in essence, particularly confusing. A reletively normal writer agrees to taking care of an isolated hotel over five months during the winter, hoping to overcome his writer’s block. Like most Kubrick films, the main character loses his shu-shizzle. He begins to get hostile towards his family and starts having hallucinations, switching the film’s tone from tense to disturbingly surreal every two minutes, sometimes overlapping;
Sadly, some of the scariness is lost on someone that didn’t watch it when it first came out, mainly because my mother was only a child when this came out. This is because the famous “Heere’s Johnny!” scene has been parodied countless times in adverts and other films, my favourite being Lenny Henry in a very memorable Premier Inn advert. Thankfully, however, none of the surrealities were cushioned by Lenny Henry and his madcap adventures (oh Lenny!) and, although I did know a fair bit about the film going into it, it didn’t fail to make me go “what the hell?” a good few times, even making me retch at one point.
Jack Nicholson deserves every single piece of praise he gets as he plays the mentally deteriorating Jack Torrance. From the moment you see him on screen as the well groomed, well dressed family man to the disturbed writer to the axe swinging psychopath, he gives a chilling performance. Some of his later hallucinations and his interactions with them are just so entertaining, leaving you glued to the screen. His dialogue with his wife (Shelley Duvall) can at points be loving and tender and at others venomous and violent, and with anger so brutal and realistic that it sends genuine shivers down my spine just writing about it.
Also quite surprising is the performance given by Danny Lloyd, only seven years old at the time, as a boy with the ability to see really disturbing stuff, man, like, you know, weird, kidnappy twins that are also dead. In most instances, people under the age of 20 in live action films make me want to kill again. However, this wasn’t the case with Danny. His situation and circumstances throughout the film actually made me emphasise with the character, elevated by the kid’s reactions throughout. He is now a teacher, which makes me happy, for some reason.
However, no film has a faultless cast and Kubrick’s works are no exception. Although I can understand that any woman in her situation would be shrill and whiny and I can also respect that the director treated her particularly bad on set to extract a better performance from her, but if Jack could just hurry up and kill his wife I would be a lot happier. Never before in a film so “serious” or “important” have I actually rooted for the psychopathic axe killer. That should be testament enough, thank you very much.
Another quite subjective annoyance about this film is the score. Since last week, oh, I’m sorry, two weeks ago, when I watched and reviewed Now You See Me (click the link if you haven’t read it already, bro), I have really been taking notice of scores, and this one got on my tits, capiche? Now, what I’m about to say is completely subjective and shouldn’t really bother anyone, especially someone like myself. That being said, the use of short, high-pitched violin… strikes? Yeah, I’m going to say strikes, annoyed me half to hell, very much sapping the intensity out of the intense scenes, despite their purpose being to add tensity, because, believe you me, it’s hard to be on the edge of your seat when you’re sat firmly in the center of it screaming “It’s 11:30, man! Give it a [flipping] rest!” at your television while the headboard of your bed is being rattled with your asshole neighbours knocking on your wall, yelling the same exact thing. Then you yell back at them and you go outside to confront them, realise one of them was an undefeated boxer in his youth and that he was still in great shape and that you are actually 14 years old and sort of a wuss, go back in and continue watching your scary movie, which you’re quite enjoying, and be scared more by the ominous knocks on your door until, finally, he gives up, smashes your shed door and goes home. You release a sigh of relief until he STARTS KNOCKING ON MY DAMN WALL AGAIN, CUT IT OUT MARK, YOU OVERWEIGHT PIECE OF HUMAN EXCREMENT.
Deep breaths. Let’s talk about something nice. Like the camerawork, or cinematography for you refined fellas (or women, because they have just as many rights as men) WEEKLY (sorry, fortnightly) FEMINIST SENSITIVITY COMPLETE!
It isn’t surprising for a Kubrick film for the cinematography to be absolutely stunning and this is no different. There are some beautifully shot establishing shots and some fantastic landscapes. However, the stand out pieces of camerawork are, most definitely, the uninterrupted tricycle shots. The sound and picture combine to make an already tense film, that much more tense.
To be honest, I’m half sure I accidentally copied some of that from a Watchmojo video but I’m pretty sure I didn’t. If I did, then I’m sure their Canadian lawyers will come on over to The West Country (don’t think I’m giving you my exact location) and promptly sue, oh well!
In conclusion, this was a fine film, a fine film indeed. If I were to rank it amongst other Kubrick films, personally, I didn’t think it was as good as Full Metal Jacket, but it was definitely better than the overrated, pretentious borefest 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Lots of hugs, kisses and lacerations