Since its theatrical release in 1980, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining has fit uneasily into the horror genre and has met with a discordant range of responses. A common grievance among reviewers at the time was that the film failed to be sufficiently frightening, and that Kubrick was slumming in a genre he didn’t respect. Over the past four decades, the film’s critical reputation has grown to the point where it now consistently ranks as one of the greatest horror films of all time, but this gradual ascent has come with debate, in both scholarly and cinephile circles, as to whether the film is indeed horrifying or something else. For plenty of commentators, The Shining is less a sincere contribution to horror than a mischievous spoof designed for smirks instead of screams and shivers.1 When I show the film to college students in my classes, their reactions tend to mirror its reception over time, with some finding it viscerally frightening, others finding it too cold and detached to be scary, and still others finding it comical, even as they grasp the film’s indictment of the racist, classist, and patriarchal violence at the foundation of American history. Certain scenes indeed elicit laughter in group screenings – especially, but not exclusively, when viewers already know the film by heart.2

Audiences, critics, and artists have increasingly forged an affectionate relationship to Kubrick’s film that materializes in comic terms. The Overlook Hotel finds openly farcical recreations in David Lynch and Mark Frost’s Twin Peaks (1990-91, 2017), Ruben Östlund’s Force Majeure (2014), Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) and Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Lobster (2015). There are doting tributes in sketch comedy TV shows (Key and Peele’s “Continental Breakfast” sendup), cartoon series (The Simpsons, Bob’s Burgers) and commercials (a 2020 Mountain Dew ad starring Bryan Cranston and Tracee Ellis Ross). A spirit of play underlies countless references in videogames, as well as the reproduction of the Overlook Hotel as a VR game environment in Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One (2018). The Rodney Ascher-directed documentary Room 237 (2012) is a comic object in its own right. And consider the wealth of fan-produced artifacts that exhibit a humorous tone, such as the Lego stop-motion animated rendition of the film, the trailer that rebrands the story as a sentimental family drama set to the tune of Peter Gabriel’s “Solsbury Hill,” a deepfake version starring Jim Carrey, and infinite memes in social media. Etsy offers hundreds of kitsch items that reuse the hexagonal carpet pattern from the Overlook, from purses to baby blankets. One could argue that all this nostalgic fawning over The Shining has stripped it of the affective dimensions proper to horror. During our present global coronavirus pandemic, social media users have lightheartedly embraced the film as a perverse reflection of their self-quarantine experience. Memes featuring the film’s demented protagonist make jokes about the difficulty of getting along with family.3 Fans have also used shots of the Overlook as their virtual backgrounds in video conferences.

Jordan Peele as the hotel guest who has always enjoyed his free continental breakfast. Key & Peele season 3, episode 7. Halloween 2013. Comedy Central.

“Little girls, y’all know how to get out of here?” Not having seen Kubrick’s horror film, Aech/Helen (Lena Waithe) comically fails to navigate the Overlook Hotel as recreated in Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018).

This cultural recasting of a Stephen King adaptation is not at odds with the film Kubrick made. Is not the Torrances’ discussion of the Donner Party funny, even as it disturbingly spells doom for Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and Danny (Danny Lloyd)? Does Jack (Jack Nicholson), in his frozen state at the end of the film, not look like the Abominable Snowman from the 1964 claymation Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer TV special? Much has been written on the more conspicuous humour in The Shining—the popular culture references (Loony Tunes and “Heeeeere’s Johnny!”), Nicholson’s impish performance, the near-subliminal details that playfully tease the audience, the caricature of a novelist and his creative process, and so forth. I want to address the subtler notes of horror-comedy in the film by looking into matters of tone, feeling, and rhythm as they shape the film’s shot-to-shot progressions.4 I will inspect two faintly humorous scenes near the beginning: Jack’s job interview, and Wendy’s meeting with a pediatrician who makes a visit to her apartment. I will also take up the coexistence of comic and ominous qualities as they imbue editing transitions between scenes. “Horror” and “comedy” are too broad to name the mercurial mix of tones in the moments I single out. Comic timing crosses with undercurrents of menace to produce a curious on-edge feeling – a feeling delicate enough to have escaped some accounts of Kubrick’s style of dark humor.

Incongruity, delay, extension, disturbance

The partly comic mood I have in mind doesn’t simply result from the viewer’s familiarity with the work. Cult horror films may become funnier and more quotable with each watch. While this is true of The Shining in certain ways, my focus here concerns an uncomfortably humorous quality that induces nervous laughter, if at all. From 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) onward, Kubrick makes basic human conversation exceedingly peculiar. Characters speak in strange cadences, their affective dispositions ranging from hysterical to vacant, their appearance and behavior tending toward the grotesque tradition that James Naremore has lucidly defined in relation to Kubrick’s aesthetics.5 In conversation scenes, shot/reverse-shot isn’t renounced so much as retimed and reconfigured according to awkward lulls and prolongments, games with composition on both sides of the cut, and, in the case of The Shining, the onset of supernatural influence. Deadpan humor creeps in where characters may seem devoid of psychological depth while under the scrutiny of an indifferent lens.6

Comic elements enter into The Shining as early as Jack’s interview with Stuart Ullman (Barry Nelson) for the caretaker position at the Overlook. Even on a first viewing, one quickly senses the inexorability of Jack’s breakdown, and the humor of this scene owes in part to the affected and semi-farcical way in which Ullman, the hotel’s manager, tries to play down the grisly murder carried out by Jack’s predecessor – a matter he brings up only out of obligation. Ullman’s posture and gesturing behind his desk invoke comedy, as do Jack’s responses when he smiles half-fiendishly with his eyebrows arched into arrow-like points. Here and elsewhere in The Shining, horror-comedy results from the fact that Nicholson’s presence is never not at some level droll, whether amusingly, irritatingly, or something of both.7

The peak of uncomfortable humor in the interview scene occurs when Kubrick’s editing breaks rhythm and stretches out a shot of Ullman as he tells the story of Charles Grady’s murder of his wife, children, and himself. When the film cuts back to Jack (exactly when Ullman says, with a nervous laugh, “killed his family with an axe”), Jack’s face has flattened but his eyebrows remain partly raised: a hint of mischief crosses with chilling non-expression. While not overtly played for laughs, the timing here is comic. The effect is indeed comparable to how Kubrick delays reaction shots in Dr. Strangelove (1964). Take the scene where Mandrake (Peter Sellers) confronts General Jack Ripper in the latter’s office (Sterling Hayden). Ripper has yet to out himself as a ridiculously paranoid strategist. The low-angle shot of him smoking a cigar and announcing his fear of a grand communist conspiracy to steal his bodily fluids is funny in part because it arrives as an overdue, slightly jarring reverse-shot that occasions a tonal modulation. The Shining uses a similar syntax in dialogue scenes to work comic beats into the accumulating atmosphere of horror. The comic timing of Jack’s reaction shot doesn’t bring relief. It intensifies our dread by negating any confidence in the family’s safety.

The manager (Barry Nelson) laughingly reveals a previous caretaker’s murderous bout of cabin fever.

In a delayed reaction shot, Jack (Jack Nicholson) absorbs the gruesome story with a few blinks, his face impassive except for his eyebrows.

The doctor’s visit to the Torrance residence happens soon after this interview scene, and the intervening seconds of screen time are crucial. Coinciding with Danny’s first dramatized fit of “shining,” the spectator sees, for the first time, the river of blood gush out of the elevator at the Overlook. This shot lingers in our thoughts like an after-image, and the domestic scene that follows is marked by its ominous force, which remains in effect as what Raymond Durgnat calls a “continuing invisible,” that is, an already transpired event that continues to inform later events in the film’s cumulative progression.8 After the doctor examines Danny in his bedroom, she and Wendy sit down in the living room to talk about environmental factors that could have brought on Danny’s episode and his voicing of “Tony,” an alter-ego of sorts who, according to Danny, lives in his mouth. While the dominant tenor of the scene is solemn, nervous humor once again results from the characters’ feeble attempts to brush off and evade the horrific course of events that the viewer already feels to be imminent. Comedy and horror have similar – and potentially overlapping –  attachments to incongruity. Both genres derive key effects from the direct juxtaposition of contradictory elements,9 and The Shining bears out this process not just in glaring ways but through subtly registered conflict. The discussion between Wendy and the doctor is a study of discordances and contradictions, as the doctor shifts from making light of Danny’s spasm (“If it reoccurs, which I doubt…”) to expressing severe concern, and as Wendy tries to smooth over Jack’s history of violence and alcoholism. The scene unfolds in a quietly irregular shot/reverse-shot pattern that varies in scale and focal range and calls attention to the background. The mise-en-scène looms over their dialogue, conveying subtext like the décor in a melodrama. Behind Wendy, Jack’s books sprawl throughout their modest apartment from the kitchen to the couch, indicating the extent to which his goals and interests have dictated their life choices. One also gathers subtle hints of Jack’s abusive tendencies not only toward Danny but toward Wendy as well.10 As soon as Wendy senses that the doctor’s questions will force her to explain how Jack hurt Danny, she reaches for a cigarette in a gesture that betrays her anxiety. Shelley Duvall’s performance, which has often gone without the credit it deserves, exudes the nervousness of a bullied, possibly battered woman who – in keeping with the psychology of victimhood – bends the truth to excuse and protect her abuser. Wendy walks on eggshells even when Jack is absent.11

At the same time, Kubrick repeats the comic syntax from Jack’s interview scene in a way that parallels Ullman’s obligatory mention of the violent past with Wendy’s. The longest shot in the scene (it runs for nearly a minute) shows Wendy in close-up as she reluctantly yet smilingly explains how Jack dislocated Danny’s shoulder. “Just one of those things, you know. Purely an accident.” An odd detail stands out in the shot: the ash on Wendy’s cigarette is on the verge of collapsing. Its absurd elongation brings deadpan humor back into the edgy feeling that imbues the scene. This sight gag creates dissonance, cutting against Wendy’s assurances to herself and the doctor that Jack’s tantrum was a blessing in disguise in that it led him to sober up. Tension mounts as the growing ash is synchronized with the shot duration. Repeating the comic syntax from the interview scene, the long take yields to a deferred reaction: a reverse shot that further belies Wendy’s attitude by showing that her story has stunned the doctor into silence. The film then cuts back to Wendy for one more tenuous display of optimism (her ash, in the interim, has crumbled), and this time her words are undermined by a cut to a black screen with a time stamp in reference to the Overlook Hotel: “Closing Day.”

Wendy (Shelley Duvall) dismisses Jack’s violence as her cigarette ash grows.

In a delayed reaction shot, the pediatrician (Anne Jackson) appears frozen and speechless.

The cut intrudes a breath too soon, imposing a trajectory of horror that cannot be avoided. The transition is callous, impersonal. It feels as if an unseen directorial agent – be it Kubrick or the Overlook – knows her fate and delights in contradicting her. Does the uncomfortably comic timing make a joke at Wendy’s expense? Not necessarily. If the grim humor mocks her, it also builds tension in a way that distributes to the viewer a share of her thinly concealed anxiety. If we pick up on hints of cruelty she has already endured, then our uneasiness overlaps with, and is mediated by, hers. Neither the cigarette gag, nor the clinical gaze of the camera, nor the intrusion of the cut have the power to dispel our sympathy.12


The layered feelings conjured up by The Shining – the anxious co-presence of horror and humor – can be understood in the light of Naremore’s account of Kubrick’s predilection for the grotesque. Giving the lie to “Kubrick’s so-called coolness,” Naremore ascribes to the director a grotesque style that “fuses laughing and screaming impulses, leaving the viewer (..) balanced between conflicting feelings, slightly unsure how to react.”13 This grotesque blend of tones is frequently on display in Kubrick’s editing transitions, which do more than just move the plot forward and change the setting. They tend to be expressive, not simply functional, and they at times indulge in visual larks. Kubrick’s most legendary transition, the bone-to-satellite graphic match in 2001, is often parsed for its symbolism without the critic noting how funny the cut is. Sardonic humor springs from the ease and economy with which modern technological progress can be deflatingly exposed as a cover for primal aggression.

Kubrick’s transitions are often acts of montage that inattentive viewers might mistake for standard plot-based editing. In The Shining, scene transitions force us into discordant affective responses just as they appear on the surface to offer short lulls. Protracted cross-dissolves have an air of pending disaster and work as eerie superimpositions, albeit with comic accents. Jack’s interview closes with a slow cross-dissolve that visually couples his partly humorous grin with Danny’s vulnerable figure. A more intricate transition in the vein of the grotesque occurs at the end of the scene where Wendy has brought Jack breakfast in bed only to be met with sarcasm. Jack, while stabbing his egg yolk repeatedly with a bacon strip, shares his acute feeling of déjà vu at the Overlook and makes a humorous facial and vocal expression of haunted-house spookiness. As Wendy and Jack laugh, a cross-dissolve introduces a new image layer that soon takes over: a close-up of Jack’s typewriter with a blank sheet loaded, and, nearby, a lit cigarette with an extended ash. Jack’s partly sinister smile here again marks our overlay of images. The transition is aural, too: their laughter combines with an oddly repetitive thump that, after the frame pulls upward from the typewriter, is revealed to be a tennis ball that Jack keeps throwing at the wall. The noise is a discomforting sound bridge that withholds its source for a moment. The montage aligns Jack with his writing machine but reduces him to a workstation where no work happens. His work, one already intuits, will be displaced from (not) writing a novel onto a more violent task. His game with the tennis ball is charged with aggression, and when another cross-dissolve materializes, the superimposition looks as though he is throwing the ball not only at the Navajo-themed painting on the wall of the lounge, but also at Wendy and Danny as they approach the hedge maze outside.14

Jack’s smile mediates a cross-dissolve from the Overlook to his son’s bathroom.

A cross-dissolve from Jack to his writing station; a thumping sound, not yet sourced, looms offscreen in the background.

In a cross-dissolve, Jack seems to target his wife and child, blocking their path.

Transitional hard cuts also contribute to an on-edge feeling in which menace and humor coalesce. There are other cuts similar to the “Closing Day” transition that intrudes on Wendy’s defense of Jack’s abusiveness. The Steadicam shots of Wendy and Danny weaving through the maze are disrupted by a “Tuesday” title card that is synchronized with a cymbal crash on loan from Béla Bartok. The musical emphasis feels like a misplaced jump scare. There is something comical (and mocking of conventional horror) about how the string music evokes a proximate threat only to lead up to a banal time stamp. The effect isn’t a false startle so much as a blank adjournment. This eccentric use of sound occurs again in the moments that follow: a musical burst is timed perfectly to Jack bouncing the ball; and soon thereafter, another cymbal strike coincides with his mere gesture of removing a sheet of paper from his typewriter. These sonic “stingers” have no rational link to the dramatic actions they highlight. Instead, they tie in with uncanny correlations between the film’s formal system and the telepathic workings of the hotel. Perhaps the music suggests that Jack’s behavior is already in sync with forces of possession; but ambiguity tempers this reading.15

You’ve always been the spectator

In the expansive critical literature on The Shining, discussions tend to concentrate on encrypted themes, philosophical conundrums, and technical triumphs. The film no doubt invites such lines of inquiry, but its power to fascinate is not exclusively cerebral. I have wanted to shift attention to affective and tonal aspects – the visceral sensations stirred up on a moment-to-moment basis; the small-scale anxiety that hovers between horror and comedy. The Shining, after all, holds a special place not merely in the mind-game film but in slow-burn cinema that does a number on one’s nervous system. Central to the experience offered is a tonally mixed feeling of insecurity, which builds in increments through first-order agitations that precede, and potentially outlast, the mental labor of interpretation.

How, then, does our anxious involvement change when we revisit the film, having watched it a number of times, and narrative-based suspense is non-existent? How is its impact altered when it unfolds on a memory screen where our earlier encounters with it shade into and condition our present one?16 I first saw the film as a sixth grader in 1989 when it aired on TBS Superstation in the US. The censorship and commercial breaks did little to ease my apprehension and keep the blood from seeming to slosh out into my family’s home.17 Over time, the fearsome moments have lessened in severity, with some becoming more archly comical. In my case, however, this shift hasn’t led to a smugly detached view of the film as a misanthropic parody through and through. Micro-tensions between humor and horror have increasingly stood out and supplanted the shocks with subtler resonances of a kind that King’s novel lacks.18 Muted insinuations have modified my attention to Duvall’s performance. And they have stoked an impression that my returns to the film are of a piece with its recursive logic and layered history. To revisit the film periodically is to be swept into – and possessed by – the reenactment process it stages.19

But being “possessed” by The Shining in this manner doesn’t mean that we languish in negative feelings. Do I speak only for myself when I point out that there is something oddly soothing, or counteractive, about the anxiety the film induces, once we have gone through the experience repeatedly? I suspect that viewers who narrowly focus on the plot and its big themes, always putting content above rhythm and atmosphere, haven’t felt what I’m trying to define. Recently, when news of the pandemic broke, I turned to the film for comfort viewing, as if to reunite with an old friend. There is something homeopathic about the anxiety that Kubrick’s work instills. I find that The Shining, in times of distress, can neutralize the uneasiness I already bring to it. My neurological symptoms can be massaged and relieved when confronted by a force (the film) that also causes such symptoms to a degree.

Noël Carroll discusses the function of horror along these lines, arguing that the genre provides a form of “emotional management,” an occasion to confront and come to grips not only with our fear, but with our deep anxieties about having such strong emotions in the first place – our fear of fear itself, what Carroll calls “meta-fear.” Horror films, he argues, “mitigate the meta-fear of fear by means of inducing fear,” thus serving as a palliative form of therapy.20 This general theory of horror, however, doesn’t take into account the impact of film form. It ignores the specifics of how certain horror films are styled in comparison to others, and how those differences affect our viewing in finely grained ways. The neutralizing quality I ascribe to The Shining is wholly dependent on its aesthetics: I don’t have the same counteractive experience during or after sitting through more manic, disorienting horror films, even artful ones such as Andrzej Żuławski’s Possession (1981), with its wildly careening camera, canted angles, jangly cutting rhythms, and contortions of space.

When rewatching The Shining, I remain fazed by the horrific content, yet I also encounter, at the aesthetic level, an eerily placid cinematic world whose orchestrations of detail, whose balanced and pristine delineations of space, whose hypnotic movements, and whose tonal compressions can gradually provoke a strange sense of calm. Such resonances of a sensory, atmospheric nature are also to be found in the partly harrowing, partly pleasurable experience of watching Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon (1975), and in certain Kubrick-inspired films, such as Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin (2014). “A film is – or should be – more like music than fiction,” Kubrick once famously stated. “It should be a progression of moods and feelings. The theme, what’s behind the emotion, the meaning, all comes later. After you’ve walked out of the theater, maybe the next day or a week later, maybe without ever actually realizing it, you somehow get what the filmmaker was trying to tell you.”21 I have wanted to suggest that after sifting extensively through the meanings of The Shining, after having made several interpretive passes through the film over a stretch of years, and after having tired of the more baroque moments in Nicholson’s performance, a lulling serenity awaits the viewer who can rediscover that initial “musicality” and become newly attuned to it.


  1. Paul Mayersberg was among the few early reviewers to grasp how the film’s comedy operates in concert with its reinvention of horror: “The movie is constantly ironic, if not downright satirical. (..) As in much of (Alfred) Hitchcock and (Luis) Buñuel, and to some extent.(Roman) Polanski, there is an underlying crazy comedy which is also deadly serious.” Mayersberg, “The Overlook Hotel,” Sight & Sound (Winter 1980-81): p. 57. For another early review that understands the film’s comic tension, and likens it to the Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner cartoon twice referenced in the film, see Richard T. Jameson, “Kubrick’s Shining,” Film Comment 16, no. 4 (July-August 1980): pp. 28-32.
  2. A few lines that strike me as comical in the film’s first half: “See, it’s okay. He saw it on the television” (Jack); “Just like a ghost ship, huh?” (Wendy); “Perfect for a child” and “Cozy” (Jack); “You know, Mrs. Torrance, you gotta keep regular if you wanna be happy” (Halloran); “All the best people” (Ullman); and “Words of wisdom, Lloyd” (Jack). There are also bits of physical comedy. Jack, en route to the men’s room after the ghostly avocat accident, wipes off his hand on Grady’s back under the pretense of an affectionate pat. It’s a slapstick gesture, almost hidden.
  3. This playful use of the film combines humor and horror in unwitting respects. The Shining, we should remember, is a film that examines domestic abuse in implicit ways that reach beyond the supernatural horror premise; and during the COVID-19 pandemic, reported cases of intimate partner violence have surged globally wherever there have been stay-at-home orders.
  4. By “horror-comedy,” I don’t mean to suggest a straightforward genre hybrid in the manner of Army of Darkness (Sam Raimi, 1992). The Shining more curiously inhabits a liminal space between horrific and comic tones in the moments I discuss.
  5. James Naremore, On Kubrick (London: British Film Institute, 2007), pp. 24-41.
  6. Two grotesquely comical interactions come to mind: Dr. Floyd’s (William Sylvester) passive aggressive exchanges with Dr. Smyslov (Leonard Rossiter) in 2001; and the spaghetti dinner scene in A Clockwork Orange (1971).
  7. Pauline Kael wrote this in her scathing review of The Shining: “Nicholson’s acting, though, suffers the most, because there are so many shots of him looking diabolic – his eyebrows like twin Mt. Fujis hovering in his forehead—and so many echoes of his other freaks, in Carnal Knowledge and The Fortune and Goin’ South (..). The tone of Nicholson’s performance seems too grinningly rabid for the movie he’s in: axe in hand and slavering, with his tongue darting about in his mouth, he seems to have stumbled in from an old A.I.P. picture. He’s borderline funny – which he isn’t meant to be – and finally, in spite of his great talent, tiresome.” Kael, “Devolution,” in Taking It All In (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1984), p. 3. My feeling, on the contrary, is that the borderline humor calculatingly adds to the film’s tonal combinations.
  8. Raymond Durgnat, A Long Hard Look at ‘Psycho’ (London: British Film Institute, 2002), p. 175. Kubrick’s lingering cross-dissolves have this principle of persistence built into them: the layer that fades out may remain implicitly in effect. Lodged in the viewer’s consciousness as a sort of haunting, it may be reactivated through strong or slight echoes.
  9. Nöel Carroll, “Horror and Humor,” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 57, no. 2 (Spring 1999): pp. 152-57
  10. Wendy’s red and blue, Raggedy Ann-looking outfit matches Danny’s apparel. This chromatic comparison resurfaces in the film (in their maze scene, for instance) and allies the characters as victims of abuse.
  11. Roger Luckhurst has observed how readings that privilege Nicholson’s work, and by extension the film’s status as parody, neglect the primary role that Duvall plays. Her talent and eccentricity outweigh the reduction of her character to a mere catalyst for Jack’s rage. Luckhurst, The Shining (London: British Film Institute, 2013), p. 82. It could be argued that Kubrick’s cruel treatment of Duvall is a regrettable, extra-diegetic extension of the film’s thematic concerns with abuse. When pointing this out, however, one still needs to give Duvall the credit her contribution warrants.
  12. Kubrick’s severe formalism is too often reductively described in a manner that would be more appropriate for Robert Bresson’s work, or the Michael Haneke of The Seventh Continent (1989). Kubrick’s actors aren’t models, even after dozens of takes. Their affective qualities sometimes push back against restrictions imposed on them; there can be palpable tension between the actor’s performance and the cool formal system that surrounds it.
  13. Naremore, On Kubrick, pp. 25-27.
  14. Elsewhere in the film, when Danny is seen playing with his toys in a hallway, the tennis ball rolls toward him from the offscreen, as if an invitation, its path perfectly in line with the hexagonal carpet; yet no one is to be found when he looks up to investigate. The object, which replaces a croquet ball in King’s novel, is associated with a hidden spectral agency at work in the spaces between and surrounding each shot. Luckhurst suggests that the ball self-reflexively points to Kubrick’s creative process. Given that Kubrick “had a habit of throwing baseballs hard at the wall in the early days of scriptwriting,” Jack’s way of dealing with writer’s block follows suit. Luckhurst, The Shining, p. 56. The tennis ball has inspired a fair amount of debate among fans. An irregularity in video editions of the film has added to its mystery: in some versions, the ball’s yellow color changes to pink in Danny’s hallway scene, but this is simply a mistake in color grading. The ball is consistently yellow in the film’s original release prints.
  15. For musicological discussions of these synchronisations, see Christine Lee Gengaro, Listening to Stanley Kubrick: The Music in His Films (Lanham: Scarecrow Press, 2013), pp. 199-201; and Kate McQuiston, We’ll Meet Again: Musical Design (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), pp. 76-79.
  16. Repetitious viewing brings cinephilia into play. My arguments about the partly comic, partly horrific anxiety driven home by The Shining could be understood in relation to Sarah Keller’s claim that anxieties have always formed a key dimension of cinephilia. Keller, Anxious Cinephilia: Pleasure and Peril at the Movies (New York: Columbia University Press, 2020).
  17. Seeing The Shining at a perhaps too-young age is an indelible experience, and seeing it as an adult, I believe, returns us to childlike modes of perception. Jennifer Barker has explored how the film, through the extra-sensory figure of Danny vis-à-vis the spectator, taps into preconscious, synesthetic ways of perceiving that human beings lose as they acquire language and mature. Barker, “Haunted Phenomenology and Synesthetic Cinema,” in Studia Phaenomenlogica 16 (2016): pp. 373-408.
  18. In an interview with Vincente Molina Foix, Kubrick complained that King’s novel leaves little room for ambiguity and is quick to explain and psychologize its characters. Referencing both Jack’s interview scene and Wendy’s discussion with the doctor, Kubrick suggests that his cinematic version is subtler in that “there are lots of little subtle points that give you at least subconsciously the same awareness that King works so hard to put in.” This full interview is included in The Stanley Kubrick Archives, ed. Alison Castle (Köln: Taschen, 2016), pp. 679-80.
  19. Such a feeling results in part from the film’s address to the spectator, which insinuates our complicity. See Greg Smith, “‘Real Horrorshow’: The Juxtaposition of Subtext, Satire, and Audience Implication in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining,” Literature/Film Quarterly 25, no. 4 (1997): pp. 300-306.
  20. Noël Carroll, Minerva’s Night Out: Philosophy, Pop Culture, and Moving Pictures (Malden: Wiley Blackwell, 2013), p. 300.
  21. Stanley Kubrick, quoted in Babak A. Ebrahimian, The Cinematic Theater (Lanham: Scarecrow Press, 2004), p. 91.

About The Author

Rick Warner is Associate Professor and Director of Film Studies in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is the author of Godard and the Essay Film: A Form That Thinks (2018). His essay, “Kubrickian Dread: Echoes of 2001 and The Shining in Works by Jonathan Glazer, Paul Thomas Anderson and David Lynch,” appears in After Kubrick: A Filmmaker’s Legacy, edited by Jeremi Szaniawski (2020).

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