Case study two- In what ways is The Shining a typical horror movie?

The Shining (1980) which was directed by Stanley Kubrick is in some ways different from your typical horror movie but in others it is the same as any other movie of that genre.
One of the main themes of the movie is isolation, this theme is shown through cinematography, iconography and plot. The film starts off with a birds eye view shot of the scenery which is the woods, later on there are two long shots of the same woods. These shots bring a sense of loneliness to the movie and further establish the fact that the Torrence family is in the middle of nowhere which is a very common theme in horror movies. The theme of isolation is again shown with the iconography, the maze and wilderness bring a sense a loneliness especially during a key point in the movie when the Torrence family are isolated by the weather. Them being in the wilderness adds tension to the movie and makes the audience wonder how  Wendy and Danny will escape since there is no obvious way out.

The use of Steadicam in the movie made it different from horror movies at the time since it was the first movie to use a Steadicam. There is a shot during the movie when the camera tracks Danny peddling his bike, this eerie tracking sequence could make the viewer feel as if they are following Danny or something is following him which further adds to the unsettling tension which builds up throughout the movie.

Throughout the movie there are countless close ups of screaming faces  which allows the viewer to clearly see the characters reactions to certain situations. The close up is something that is always associated with horror movies since it not only adds to the fear that the audience is experiencing but also puts the audience in the position as the victim.

(Music from The Shining)

Music is an important part of the film, as the film progresses and builds in tension so does the music. As the mood of a scene changes the mood of the music does also, the music works in parallel with the film and without it the film might not be the same.

(Inappropriate music for The Shining)

Mirrors feature a lot in the movie and almost have a doppelgänger  effect especially in the case of Jack Torrence. At first Jack appears to be a kind and loving father however, he starts to gradually change. Before he starts to change there is a shot in the films which gives the audience the impression that we are watching him sleep it isn’t until the camera dollies out that we realise that we are just watching Jack’s reflection in the mirror.  After this shot Jack starts to gradually change and become aggressive and increasingly violent. Stanley Kubrick also uses mirrors in relation to Danny Torrence, Danny uses the mirror to warn his mother that his father is going to murder them by writing “REDRUM” on the door. Kubrick has used mirrors in an interesting way which in a way makes it different compared to other horror movies.

One aspect of the plot that is stereotypical of a horror movie is the story that the last caretaker at the hotel went crazy and killed his family, almost every horror movie begins with a story about a tragedy that happened previously which warns the viewer that history may repeat itself because this I do think that the film uses its originality. However, Kubrick’s use of enigma at the end of the movie, which forces the audience to try and figure out  why Jack is in a picture that was taken in 1921 makes the film original.


Another stereotypical feature of the plot is that the Danny and his mother are offered many ways out when Jack is trying to kill them but their way out, the cook  gets killed, despite this happening they manage to escape using the vehicle that the cook brought.

Overall, I think that The Shining is a stereotypical horror movie which uses generic aspects from the horror genre and successfully  puts a unique spin on them which has allowed it to become a legendary and influential horror movie.


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