Greetings, and welcome to Earthling
Cinema. I am your host, Garyx Wormuloid. This week’s artifact is The Shining, directed
by visionary auteur Stan Lee Kubrick and starring visionary golfer Jack Nicklaus. The film tells the story of a human male named
Jack Torrance who moves into a hotel, or “large house,” because winter is coming and he
needs somewhere to write that isn’t another goddamn Starbucks. Jack brings his wife, Wendy, his son, Danny, and his son’s friend, Tony. Most Earth males considered themselves best friends with one of their appendages, although usually not their finger. A kindly old scatman reveals to Danny that
they share the same mutant powers, namely their ability to process lactose. “How’d you like some nice cream milk?” The scatman refers to their telepathy as “shining,” because Hey, that’s the name of the movie!
He also tells Danny to stay out of Room 237, since he knows human children are all about
doing what they’re told. Next thing you know, Danny motors over to
Room 237 and gets himself strangled like an idiot. “What happened to your neck?” Jack takes some time away from his
busy schedule to check it out for himself, but all he finds is some horny old corpse.
Talk about a dead end! He retires to the bar, where he downs some spirits while getting down with some spirits. Wendy discovers Jack’s memoirs, which contain
some alarming spelling and syntax errors. Jack begs her for more constructive criticism,
but she pushes for a page one rewrite. Now a child of a broken home, Danny turns
to the underground world of street art. Meanwhile, Jack returns with an axe, apparently having
forgotten his first name. Jack chases Danny into the hedge maze that
is right in front of the hotel for some reason, but Danny escapes by doing the moonwalk. Wendy
grabs him and bolts, proving that sometimes cooler heads don’t prevail. Finally, a photograph from decades earlier
reveals a sinister twist: Jack used to have a different haircut. The Shining is one of Earth’s most famous
horror films, and yet it consciously inverts classic horror tropes like it don’t even
care. In most horror films, the “monster” is shrouded in mystery until it jumps out and spooks ya, and nothing is seen from its perspective. But here, Jack Torrance is the
character we know best, and he becomes the “monster”
before our very eye sockets. In its defiance of horror archetypes, the
film shows its contempt for traditional media. “He’s a, uh, confirmed ghost story
and horror film addict.” Jack often speaks dismissively of film and
television as if it is something absurd. “It’s ok – he saw it on the television.” Take that, traditional media! Moreover, as Jack loses his mind, he talks more and more performatively, like a TV character. “Wendy, I’m home.” Eerily prescient, as television eventually gave Earth’s entire population brain damage. Some of Earth’s most renowned IMDB lurkers have posited that, because the because the Overlook Hotel is built on a Native American burial ground, “The site is supposed to be located on an Indian burial ground.” and features Native American imagery, it represents America’s history of “overlooking” the atrocities done to Native Americans. Furthermore, the hotel’s haunting is the supposed manifestation of that suppressed violence. However, it was later revealed that this imagery was due to the fact that director Stan Kubrick was a huge Cleveland Indians fan. The film hinges on perspective, which is kept deliberately ambiguous to make the “logic”
of what is happening impossible to discern. The beginning is marked by an omniscient,
ghostly perspective that dances across the water like some sort of Flamenco Jesus.
These pioneering Steadicam shots of Danny burning plastic on his chopper suggest
that someone is watching him – perhaps the evil forces within the hotel? “It isn’t real.” What follows is a battle between subjective
and objective reality, and this is one battle that can’t be won with a neutron torpedo.
Sometimes we see images through the eyes of a certain character. Like Danny, for instance.
He’s a character. Other times, we see images in a purely objective way, aka regular style.
When Lloyd appears behind the bar, we see him not from Jack’s point of view but as
a simple reverse shot, as if he’s actually there. Are we to believe Danny’s visions are merely visions, but the things happening to Jack are really happening? What about Wendy and that bear guy? They’ve got “will they or won’t they” written all over them. Occasionally, though, the lines are hazier. Jack looks at a miniature model of the maze
and sees Wendy and Danny running around inside, which would be impossible. I mean, they’re
short, but not that short. Later, one of Jack’s apparition buddies lets Jack out of the locked
pantry, despite his lack of a key or any corporeal form. “I fear you will have to deal with this matter in the harshest possible way, Mr. Torrance.” So now it’s not just perspective being
manipulated, but physical reality? Yikes! I’m sleeping with my head under the covers tonight! The supernatural element at the hotel is purposefully
vague, but some signs point to the involvement of Earth’s Devil, who by all accounts resided
in Georgia. Jack invokes the Faust legend, “I’d sell my goddamn soul for just a glass of beer.” immediately prompting Lloyd to appear with that trademark smirk on his face. Jack freaks out when Wendy says they should leave, citing the fact that he “signed a contract” with the hotel staff. “I have signed a letter of agreement – a contract!” similar to the contract Faust signed
with the Devil’s hotel staff. Jack says “I’m the kind of man who likes
to know who’s buying his drinks,” but Lloyd responds, “That doesn’t concern you.”
Is it the devil? The hotel? Director Stanny Kubes? Perhaps some questions are better left unanswered? For Earthling Cinema, I’m Garyx Wormuloid.