Saturday, 20 October 2012

King of Horror: The Shining (Book & Movie Review)

The Shining by Stephen King
"The Overlook Hotel is more than just a home-away-from-home for the Torrance family. For Jack, Wendy, and their young son, Danny, it is a place where past horrors come to life. And where those gifted with the shining do battle with the darkest evils. Stephen King's classic thriller is one of the most powerfully imagined novels of our time." - Description

I recently read the book and watched the movie starring Jack Nicholson. First I will talk about the book and then my thoughts on the movie (spoiler-free of course!).

My Rating: 4/5

We have all heard of the Shining. We all know it is one of Stephen King's greatest novels. But what exactly is it about? Personally, my only recollection of the story concerned a parody the Simpsons did several years ago. I knew a hotel was involved, something called "redrum," and lots of blood.

The book is brilliantly written, although some foreshadowing was a bit obvious. I really felt like we got to know the characters. Not only are we acquainted with their stay at the hotel, but we learn of their past struggles as a family. These past episodes add a depth to the characters that can be interpreted later in the story as being significant or not. Jack, the father, is a man with a history that is trying to support his family. He is an aspiring author and is looking forward to months of peace and quiet. His wife, Wendy, is along for the ride and plays a very supportive role. They have a little boy, Danny, and he is special. 

Let's talk about the real aspect of the book: the horror. The horror was the believable type with a bit of supernatural essences thrown in. Or, if you'd like, it was purely believable. There were several scenes in the book with their fair share of gore, but also several creepy moments that I felt were more convincing than the gore itself. The book is not particularly scary, but it is absolutely creepy. Imagine being in a large hotel in the middle of a snowstorm, phones are out, radio doesn't work, and you can't escape. Then creepy things begin to happen. Ready to leave yet? This family all struggles with the hotel in their own way, and I felt the progression of the story with the winter was really fitting. 

Movie Review - Rating: 3/5

The movie was adapted from the book, so it did not follow the same script. Some minor things were changed and the ending was also slightly adjusted. I was a bit disappointed in that the movie chose to omit some of the best gory and creepy scenes, and also a large part of back-story for Jack's character development. The movie demonstrates that he is trying to write a book but it does not tell what the book is about. In the book we learn exactly what he is writing and why it is affecting him so much. As well, the movie added a huge element to the story - an outdoor hedge maze. Although plants were significant in the book, I was disappointed in the maze because it meant an omission of two scenes I was looking forward to seeing on the screen.
However, it should be noted that Jack Nicholson's portrayal of Jack was an amazing performance. His famous line, "Here's Johnny!" should be witnessed sometime in your life, and can be if you watch this movie.

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