What can I say about the scariest movie I have ever seen that has not already been said by others more articulate than yours truly? Do not view this film expecting to see a screen version of the Stephen King novel. Rather, this is a Stanley Kubrick film, and to fully appreciate it one should judge it within the context of Kubrick's entire body of work as a serious filmmaker. Thematically, THE SHINING relates most closely to 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, though flourishes of PATHS OF GLORY, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE and BARRY LYNDON do manage to figure prominently in the film's overall technique.
In a nutshell (no pun intended), Jack Nicholson and Shelly Duvall co-star with Oregon's Timberline Lodge - enlisted to portray the exterior of the Overlook Hotel - in a story that appears on the surface to be about ghosts and insanity, but deals with issues of child abuse, immortality and duality.
What the film might lack initially in terms of coherence is more than made up for in technique. Garrett Brown (the male voice in those old Molson Golden commercials from the Eighties), inventor of the Steadicam, chases young Danny Lloyd through hotel corridors and an amazing snow maze, providing magic-carpet-ride fluidity to scenes that ten years earlier would have been impossible to accomplish. If the film starts off too slowly, remember who the director is. This man likes to take his time, and the results are well worth it: incredible aerial shots of the Overlook Hotel; horrific Diane Arbus-inspired twins staring directly at us; the portentous room 237 and its treasure trove of terrible secrets; elevators that gush rivers of blood in slow-motion; Jack Torrance's immortality found via the hotel (akin to David Bowman's journey through the Space Gate); and some of the best use of pre-existing music ever assembled for a motion picture thanks to associate editor Gordon Stainforth.
It would take a book to examine and defend the film's strong points and drawbacks. If you've never seen it, you owe it to yourself to watch it alone with the lights off, with no interruptions, and make sure that it's raining. This is a cinematic experience that changed my life at the age of 14. Makes a great double feature with Robert Wise's 1963 thriller THE HAUNTING.