Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance
Shelley Duvall as Wendy Torrance
Danny Lloyd as Danny Torrance
Scatman Crothers as Dick Hallorann
Stanley Kubrick, the director of the film adaptation of the Stephen King novel The Shining, has a long history of powerful and impactful movies. Lolita, the Kubrick film from 1962, began the string of well-known cinematic power that continued with Dr. Strangelove (1964), 2001: A space Odyssey (1968) and Clockwork Orange (1971).
Kubrick directed, produced and wrote the screenplay (with co-writer Diane Johnson) for The Shining, and so this film demonstrates the strength of his ability to create and communicate disturbing, horrifying images.
The Shining begins when Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) accepts a seasonal job as caretaker at a mountain resort. With family in tow (Shelley Duvall and Danny Lloyd) he heads to the mountain paradise looking forward to having peace and quiet to finish his novel and bond with his wife and child.
Trouble is, when the snow hits the mountainous region of the resort there is no communication possible with the rest of the world. Roads are snowed in, phone lines are down, and a simple ham radio is the only touch point with civilization. The isolation of this environment had caused a lesser man to crack and turn homicidal on his brood years ago…and the spirit of this unstable man has his sights set on leading dear old Jack down the same path…
Jack Nicholson absolutely makes this movie. If there ever was a man that can believably play “crazy”, it’s Nicholson. Shelley Duvall (Olive Oyl???) does an exceptional job also as the mousy wife Wendy. And then there’s Danny (Danny Lloyd). Danny plays the only son of Wendy and Jack Torrance, and provides the creep-factor necessary to elevate The Shining to a status reserved for horror movie legends.
Danny has “the shine”, which is a psychic ability to see things that most of us can’t see. Visions of terror and doom are seen by the young boy, and he has an imaginary friend that has a tendency to take over Danny’s body and spout out creepy quips (REDRUM!! REDRUM!!!) that punctuate the film’s explosive moments and lead to a showdown between father and son where only one can survive.