Musings on ‘The Shining’

In Commentary, FILM, THEATRE & TV, HOME by Sam Prance

Heeeere’s Johnny. We all know that feeling. We just want to work on our writing, so we decide the solitude of an isolated hotel built atop a Native American burial ground with the debilitating effects of a snow storm swinging through is a misfortune that we all justifiably feel. I mean, I struggle with heavy rain. Despite its horrendously clichéd set up as a horror film, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining retains cult following unlike any film of its genre, and this Hallowed Eve, I highly recommend a screening at your home.

Its shot in such a way that will make you genuinely terrified. Eerie silences, great sound effects and some shockingly good shots make this film feel so much more than just your standard Hollywood horror. This really gets under your skin. Jack Nicholson is, (well he’s Jack Nicholson, he’s a god amongst men in my opinion), and his performance is up there with One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Chinatown. This man is not a monster, he’s a father and that will genuinely terrify you.

We are all familiar with the scene of the child pedalling down the hotel hallway, many of you I’m sure will see little difference between that and the intros to the Naked Gun series. This aside, the boy who played ‘Danny’ gives a stellar performance in a genre almost entirely dedicated to making you fear anyone under the tender age of 12. I for one will now never buy my child a tricycle. They will simply walk. That way, I can outrun them if they become possessed.

And this is from someone who hates horror films, and it’s not because I’ve not watched them enough, I really have seen my fair share of them. And it’s not because I’m scared either, actually, that’s bollocks, I really am, I just tend to be okay during the film, but after 2 hours alone it wouldn’t be unusual to find me rocking in the foetal position in the corner, crying for my mother. I’ve seen Stephen King’s It, I’ve seen The Ring, and I’ve even seen some pretty obscure ones as well. But first and foremost, I consider myself a British Rom-Com kind of guy. I like Richard Curtis, I love Love Actually and I fear I could recite each line of Four Weddings (I have the emotional capacity of a flan, but my god John Hannah reciting W.H Auden). But The Shining is seriously the first horror film that I have actually openly enjoyed.

And, it’s based on the Stephen King novel. Great start, they’ve got their starter for ten there. If you’ve not read his books, I highly recommend them because they will quite literally make you address the fact that from now on you cannot consider anyone you have ever loved or held precious to be anything more than a distraction tool whilst you run. That’s right. Bugger bravery. Scooby and Shaggy were the bright ones. And they usually involve clowns, who wouldn’t want to read a novel including a demonic clown? I mean, think about those words for a few moments – demonic; visions of evil, the devil and every morally repugnant thing you’ve attempted to repress juxtaposed against the triviality of a clown. Maybe don’t try Stephen King actually.

Spike Lister

Spike Lister is a student at Edinburgh University. He studies History. His icon is Peter O’Toole and he considers himself to be a part-time connoisseur of soup. He doesn’t dance; he fears he looks like a bin liner full of yoghurt when he does and he would like to take this opportunity to propose to Melanie Laurent, who he believes is Aphrodite. 

If you’re interested in getting involved with PTL – drop us an email on