Here it is. The one film that is most regularly referred to as "the greatest horror film of all time". Moments from it are embedded into our pop culture, and it's a very quotable film, one who's imagery you most likely know of even before seeing it. Yet, I will be that brave individual who declares that this, simply put, the singular most overrated horror film in all of history. I'm a huge horror fanatic, who has seen well over thousands of horror films in my (at the moment) 23 years. So it baffles me to no end that this particular film is so fondly remembered and heralded. When it first released, it was met with negative critical reception, for very good reason. First and foremost, it is a messy, empty film that drags on for far too long. Stephen King's original novel focuses on the emotional aspect of Jack Torance's relationship with his family. His struggles with alcoholism, mental instability and the horrors of parental abuse. It was about something. In Kubrick's film, these elements are reduced to nothing. The characters go through abrupt mood swings for no apparent reason, huge periods of time pass in the blink of an eye without any character development. We watch Jack go insane, but we have no meaningful concept of why he is, why he's susceptible to the hotel's evil influence. Each character has complex personality quirks, such as Danny's psychic powers, that are never so much as explored. The film simply has no emotional core, no humanity, no connection to it's audience besides atmosphere.
And the atmosphere is perhaps, the most memorable part of the film. Kubrick does indeed, manage to create several memorable scenes of visceral horror. Images such as the "wave of blood" and the twins will stay with viewers. The hotel itself is a masterfully composed kingdom of horrors. But these aspects are empty as well, and never used to their full potential. Furthermore, the pacing is absolutely botched. The film truly has no sense of pace whatsoever. It's not a slow-burner, it's schizophrenic. Particular scenes will drag on for absolutely no reason, without any sense of impending doom or fear, which is the only reason for horror scenes to move slowly. To build atmosphere and dread. The glue holding the film together is mostly the cast. Jack Nicholson is spectacular in the lead role, and the only truly frightening part of the film. His transformation into a monster would have been much more effective if the character felt like a human being and not an empty shell. All together, Kubrick's film takes a work that was meant to be emotional and cerebral, and turns it into nothing more than a visual slog. It's all style, no substance, and even it's style isn't truly unique enough to make it a triumph. I agree with the critics of the 80's, who rose many of the same complaints I have, and King himself, who rightfully considers it a mediocre butchering of one of his finest novels. The Shining truly is, the most overrated horror film in cinematic history.
My Rating: 5/10