With everything to work with, director Stanley Kubrick has teamed with jumpy Jack Nicholson to destroy all that was so terrifying about Stephen King's bestseller.
In his book, King took a fundamental horror formula – an innocent family marooned in an evil dwelling with a grim history – and built layers of ingenious terror upon it. The father is gradually possessed by the demonic, desolate hotel.
With dad going mad, the only protection mother and child have is the boy’s clairvoyance – his ‘shining’ – which allows him an innocent understanding and some ability to outmaneuver the devils. But Kubrick sees things his own way, throwing 90% of King’s creation out.
The crazier Nicholson gets, the more idiotic he looks. Shelley Duvall transforms the warm sympathetic wife of the book into a simpering, semi-retarded hysteric.
[Version reviewed ran 146 mins. Kubrick cut pic soon after its premiere.]