So now, those figures aren't so imposing anymore. Certainly The Shining has at it's core the element of one (played so maniacally well by Jack Nicholson). I suppose as you get older you start to distance yourself from some of those figures who once struck fear into your heart. Maybe its the fact that you're older and more self-actualized now, standing on your own two feet, a decidedly stronger individual. As a kid, the only sense of identity that you have is tied up in your attachment (or in some cases, non-attachment) to your parents. Those once imposing and fearful figures are now no longer frightening, and in the case of one Mr. Freddy Krueger, they are now just downright comical.
The movie employs so many tactics in creating a truly visceral and disturbing movie watching experience. The oft cliched creepy kids are there in spades. The cheap carnival haunted house jolts are there as well. Even the looming specter of a fortress-style home and its visual feelings of impending doom can be found. What the director employs so well throughout the film is the fear of the unknown. The constant feeling that something is lurking just around the corner and that at any moment, something will happen and you have absolutely no control over it, is the single most terrifying aspect of the film. Even when nothing happens, its still pretty damn scary. Its this constant fear or unseen threat that is played like a country fiddle throughout most of the film and its heightened to such great effect with a discordant soundtrack that pierces your ear drums and makes you jump in your seat with every note.
The film is truly a horror movie in every respect and is my all-time favorite fright flick. The fanfare may always be tied up in Jack Nicholson's performance or Stanley Kubrick's direction. But for me, it will always remain the things that you don't see along with the constantly imposed feelings of dread and uncertainty.
Cortez the Killer