Stephen King's The Shining (Two Disc Special Edition)
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Stephen King's The Shining (DVD)
Jack Torrance and his family move into the sprawling, vacant Overlook Hotel to get away from it all. Away from the alcoholism that derails Jack's writing career. Away from the violent outbursts that mar Jack's past. But Jack's young son Danny knows better. He possesses a psychic gift called the shining. - a gift the hotel's vile spirits desperately want.]]>
Stephen King's The Shining is a new adaptation from the author himself, made for television, that bears very little resemblance to the 1980 Stanley Kubrick version. That's not surprising since Kubrick threw out most of King's novel and presented his own version of the story. Here King redresses the balance in a miniseries that follows his original almost to the letter, and manages to be effectively creepy despite the budget and censorship limitations of the TV format.
Stephen Weber takes over the role of Jack Torrance, the caretaker who slowly descends into madness in the haunted Overlook Hotel. His performance is as far from Jack Nicholson as you could get, with his insanity building slowly and menacingly rather than being virtually mad from the get-go. Rebecca De Mornay is superb as Wendy Torrance, struggling to hold her fragile family together amid the spooky goings-on. Young Courtland Mead plays Danny, whose unique gifts give the story its title, as one of those infuriating TV brats who overacts left, right, and center. Fortunately, there are enough creepy moments and a number of frights to hold the whole thing together, the woman-in-the-bathtub scene being a standout shocker. Sure, there is nothing quite like Nicholson's "Here's Johnny!" moment, but this is the story King wanted to tell and it still shines brighter than most of the other recent screen adaptations of his work. --Jonathan WeirSee all Editorial Reviews
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Val Lewton who produced horror films in the '40s said that a good horror movie should have a worthy drama beyond the horror elements of the story and Stephen King I think knows that. Feature films are practically in love with cheap thrills. They have been since the late seventies. So it is kind of interesting that Hollywood keeps going back to King for original horror material. I think it is because of the human drama inside of the horror story that King continually delivers.
His characters are often alcoholics, writers, and vulnerable people visiting rural areas wrestling with their personal demons...and suddenly encountering very real ones.
The thing I notice most about King's stories is that they grip you with a sense of true dread. A book doesn't scare you like a movie. A book needs that sense of sustained dread. A movie relies on guys jumping out of the shadows more, and once you get over that then a guy simply jumps out of another shadow.
So let's talk about The Shinning. This was a three part mini-series on TV starring Steven Webber, Rebecca DeMornay, and the little boy Courtland Mead (and enough criticizing the kid's acting people. He does a fine job).
As you probably know, Jack Torrance (Weber) is a recovering alchoholic hired as caretaker of the Overlook Hotel, a huge remote vacation spot that closes in the winter. He takes his wife and son with him thinking this job will help him rebuild his life after being fired from a teaching job. But the deserted hotel is obviously not really deserted. The ghosts of mob hitmen, bartenders, bitter lovers, and other dark entities are there. When Jack's son, Danny (Mead), enters the hotel he's like a lightning rod because he has the Shinning. He has an invisible friend named Tony who tells him the future and he can see the ghosts. At first he is lead to believe they are like "pictures in a book" that cannot truly hurt him...but he finds out that his presence at the Overlook has changed that.
But Jack is the weak spot that the ghosts know they can use to get Danny. He's vulnerable. Wendy Torrance (DeMornay, still looking as hot as she did in Risky Business) wants Jack to succeed but he's hurt her emotionally, and their son Danny physically...once, when he was drinking and he's been remorseful about it ever since.
This dysfunctional family unit wins our sympathy immediately. Something I think was a weakness of the Kubrick version (from what I've seen of it). This is a likeable group, an attractive couple and their innocent son, facing that horrific King dread I was talking about and doing it all on their own.
Perhaps the one dissapointment in this film (and it is a minor one) are the hedge animals that come to life. I didn't find them the least bit scary. Not nearly as scary as the "217 lady." Certainly Steven Weber's performance is chilling as the "manager" of the Overlook gains more and more control over him. I found the acting to be excellent across the board. Actors in horror movies sell the scares even more than the special effects.
So there we have it. An excellent horror mini-series that I think is one of (if not the best) King adaption I've seen on TV and can hold it's own against many a feature film. Are you waiting for me to say it's better than Kubrick's? If I get around to seeing Kubrick's version I'll let you know, but I like this one a whole lot and I can see how it is faithful to the original story.
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