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Picks and Pans Review: The Shining

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Stanley Kubrick, a director who has done just about everything else, has tried for the ultimate horror film—and almost achieved it. Jack Nicholson plays a struggling writer prone to bouts of drinking and depression. To get away from it all, he packs up his wife (Shelley Duvall) and young son and takes a job as caretaker of a lodge in the Rockies. Slowly, surely, he goes mad—and the movie flails off into an orgy of psychological terror. Nicholson is, as usual, superb, and Duvall makes the most of her natural wide-eyed innocence. Young Danny Lloyd is also compelling as the son who, it turns out, has the gift of ESP—the “shining” of the title. But Kubrick has tried to mix a lot of classic horror elements, with only mixed success. He proves a master at creating a sense of impending dread through music, shadow and startling camera angles. But toward the end, the movie takes a curious twist, with a clumsily introduced time warp that seemingly implicates the lodge itself as a cause of Nicholson’s madness. Still, nobody ever claimed to have fully understood all the goings-on in Kubrick’s epic 2001 either. Suspend disbelief. The Shining is like a near-miss auto accident: You don’t know how scared you really were until you start shaking a few hours later. (R)