Warner Bros. Pictures | Release Date: May 23, 1980 CRITIC SCORE DISTRIBUTION
Generally favorable reviews based on 26 Critic Reviews
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Time OutStaff (Not Credited)
Stanley Kubrick hungers for the ultimate. In The Shining, he has gone after the ultimate horror movie, something that will make "The Exorcist" look like "Abbott and Costello Meet Beelzebub." The result is the first epic horror film, a movie that is to other horror movies what his "2001: A Space Odyssey" was to other space movies. [26 May 1980, p.96]
Boston GlobeBruce McCabe
When you sit down to The Shining, you sit down with normal expectations of being diverted, perhaps even being gripped, but not being undermined. But the film undermines you in powerful, inchoate ways. It's a horror story even for people who don't like horror stories - maybe especially for them. [14 Jun 1980, p.1]
THE SHINING, billed as a "masterpiece of modern horror," fails in one vital regard: it isn't very scary... Kubrick is master of visual images, and many of the scenes display his brilliance. But much of the suspense ends in anti-climax, and Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall seem over-extended in trying to maintain the terror. [28 June 1980]
Washington PostLee Lescaze
The horror fan who climbs into his movie seat looking for an experience as intense as a roller-coaster ride will be more teased than satisfied. The director of "Lolita," "Dr. Strangelove" and "Clockwork Orange" is simply working with less interesting material: The Shining is a slender, barely believable tale being asked to carry a lot of style and weight. [13 June 1980, p.19]
Disappointing... Jack Nicholson parodies himself while Kubrick fails to provide any thrills. [11 July 1980, p.8]
Though taken from a pulp best-seller, by Stephen King, the movie isn't the scary fun one might hope for from a virtuoso technician like Kubrick. It has a promising opening sequence, and there is some spectacular use of the Steadicam, but Kubrick isn't interested in the people on the screen as individuals. They are his archetypes, and he's using them to make a metaphysical statement about the timelessness of evil. He's telling us that man is a murderer through eternity. Kubrick's involvement in technology distances us from his meaning, though, and while we're watching the film it just doesn't seem to make sense.
Kubrick certainly doesn't fail small. One could fast forget The Shining as an overreaching, multi-levelled botch were it not for Jack Nicholson. Nicholson, one of the few actors capable of getting the audience to love him no matter what he does, is an ideal vehicle for Kubrick. [14 Jun 1980, p.E1]