Imagine sitting in a class full of movie buffs about to watch one of the most well known horror movies of western cinema and being disappointed extremely. The Shining, while very intriguing and suspenseful, never seemed to live up to my expectations of what my first horror movie should be. For someone expecting a horror movie, it didn’t seem to instill fear into the audience through the conventional gory scenes, jumpscares or a high body count. For the purposes of this movie, one can only assume that Kubrick attempted to paint his scenes through a more psychologically thrilling manner due to his intense music, suspenseful scenes and ominous storyline. When analyzing the typical horror movie, the idea of overly gory scenes are very prominent however this movie almost makes it nonexistent; the extent of gore within the movie is limited to the decomposed woman, the murdered twins and the death of Halloran.
In addition too the few gory scenes, there are no jump scares in the movie, something often included in today’s horror films. The music in the movie seems to build, preparing the audience for something to suddenly happen however, without the action, the movie disappoints those expecting something unexpected. The movie’s body count is also unconventional as the murderer only kills one person and only two die the entire movie.
While the same intent to murder is there as in typical horror movies, the action often required, has been omitted. These factors have rendered the Shining more of a psychological thriller than a horror movie in my eyes.
There were still some things the movie excelled at however, like creating an intense atmosphere through their music, ominous storyline and psychologically thrilling scenes. The music, for one, has a large amount of tone colour; instruments creating the music range from strings and percussion, to brass and woodwind creating many different sounds meant to convey terror and fear between characters.
As well as suspenseful music, the ominous storyline clearly keeps the audience intrigued, so much so that documentaries have been made regarding the many theories behind the Overlook Hotel and the Shining. These theories range from references to the Native American genocide, the Holocaust and that the hotel resembles a labyrinth of sorts.This obsession with the true storyline of the Shining continues to mesmerise audiences with its mystery.
One last example of good aspects of this movie include the psychologically thrilling scenes, one of these scenes being between Jack and Wendy on the stairwell. This scene portrays Wendy’s realization of Jack’s true insanity as he attempts to take away her protective device – a bat.
He then continues to threaten her life and the life of their son as he mocks her and intimidates her into giving up. This scene only continues to build up the suspense of what Jack’s next actions may be as the audience has been anticipating his demise or the death of his victims over the course of the movie.
Not only does this scene shock audiences, it also highlights a crucial issue in horror movies – the highly misogynistic view of women. In many movies, specifically horror movies, women are portrayed as weak and without personality, common traits of Wendy Torrence in the Shining. They are uncertain, make stupid decisions and are over-sexualized. Fortunately, in, “The Shining,” the latter is not an issue for our female victim, Wendy.
Stephen King, the author of the book, “The Shining,” describes Kubrick’s Wendy Torrence as a, “[S]creaming dishrag,”
further illustrating how insignificant she is as a character. He believes that the movie has turned his beloved character, one not meant to exhibit stupidity or only screaming, into another example of misogynistic views in horror movies. This concept doesn’t just stem from, “The Shining,” it is exhibited through many different horror films and is slowly being recognized by audiences as an issue in cinema. It is present in the popular horror film, “The Nightmare on Elm Street,” further displaying how overly sexualized women are. Another example of the over-sexualisation and the appearance of weakness women face in horror films, is included in the film, “Psycho,” as seen on the right. It is hard to imagine why so many women’s death scenes are filmed in such sexually grotesque manners however, one may conclude that this is due to misogynistic views of women’s vulnerability. The idea that women are most vulnerable during times others may consider sexual, is an extremely skewed view of a woman’s sexuality. The concept that women cannot be confident in their sexuality and should be ashamed or vulnerable instead, is demonstrated in the above films and many others. Multiple women in multiple movies are murdered while having sex, being naked, or doing very mundane activities such as keeping up with hygiene. In addition, there have been times when women who are “sexually immoral” have been murdered rather than “pure” women and women who are still virgins. This phenomenon has even been examined satirically in this video.
While Wendy Torrence is not seen as a sexual being in “The Shining,” the idea behind a vulnerable, sexual woman only portrays women as more weak. This may have been evident in, “The Shining,” in a different scene when the young women gets out of the bath. One of the only sexual scenes in the entire movie shows a sexually confident woman being used to please a man’s imagination, demonstrating Jack’s own misogynistic views of women.
I began watching this film with a very specific set of expectations of such a well-known horror movie but, I left with a bitter taste in my mouth. Not only did I not receive the terror I expected, I was also subjected to misogynistic views beyond the portrayal of an abusive husband but rather an abusive genre of film that punishes women and makes them vulnerable in situations they should be confident in or not be in at all.