Filmsite Movie Review
The Shining (1980)
Pages: (1) (2) (3) (4)
Plot Synopsis (continued)


From his play with his toy cars and trucks on the brightly-colored, hallway carpeting with maze-like patterns, Danny is beckoned by a rolling yellow tennis ball that comes up to him. Uneasily, he calls out: "Mom, Mom, Mom, are you in there?" as he is lured again into the enigmatic Room 237 - standing open. As Wendy checks out electrical and boiler gauge settings in the utilities room, she hears loud animalistic yelps and groans. Rushing upstairs to Jack, she finds him asleep and in agony - collapsed in front of his typewriter, visibly drooling and experiencing Grady-like, nightmarish visions of murderous atrocity. After awakening him, he falls to the floor and cowers there, distraught by his dreams. The angled camera perspective beneath the table accentuates his imbalanced state of mind:

Jack: The most terrible nightmare I ever had. It's the most horrible dream I ever had.
Wendy: It's OK, it's OK now. Really.
Jack: I dreamed that I, that I killed you and Danny. But I didn't just kill ya. I cut you up in little pieces. Oh my God. I must be losing my mind.
Wendy: Everything's gonna be all right.

And then Wendy sees Danny trudging into the room with his thumb in his mouth. Not wanting to have him see his father in such a confused, agonized state, she bids him to go play in his room for awhile - but Danny doesn't mind her and continues forward like a dazed sleepwalker. When she scurries over to her son, she is appalled by the bruise marks on his neck and his torn sweater - he has been brutalized and dazed (offscreen) after entering Room 237. [Is Jack Danny's assailant?] She hugs her son and then stands and ferociously confronts a stunned and befuddled Jack, accusing and implicating him of hurting their son. Wendy believes he is the only one who could have caused their son's injury - like he accidentally did once before:

Wendy: You did this to him, didn't you? You son-of-a-bitch. You did this to him! Didn't you? (Jack shakes his head in denial) How could you? How could you?
Jack: (softly, after she has exited) No.

Wandering down the hotel's hallway as he gesticulates to himself in anger, Jack enters into the Gold Room, turns on the lights, crosses the room, and falls onto a stool at the 'dry' bar - empty of people and booze. Unwittingly, he has entered many decades earlier into the ancient past of the hotel and is being sucked deeper into demonic, past forces that affected it. With self-pity in his voice and suffering from a past weakness and dependence for alcohol, a sense of powerlessness, debilitating writer's cramp, and an inability to cope with the frustrations of his family and his dislocated, unhealthy marriage, he sighs and mutters to himself a corrupting, Faustian bargain for his soul:

God, I'd give anything for a drink. I'd give my god-damned soul for just a glass of beer!

After his request, he conjures up his first 'shining' apparition - an ability that he passed on to his son. He drags his hands down over his face, addressing the bar's mirror directly in front of him - addressing us - the film audience. [Every time Jack talks to a "ghost" in the film, there's a mirror in the scene. Turning into a madman, he's actually talking to himself in the mirror.] With flourescent lights (built into the bar) brightly beaming up into his evil-shadowed face, a barman materializes (or comes 'alive' in his imagination) in front of him. He grins and speaks to a spectral, red-jacketed, chillingly sinister bartender named Lloyd (Joe Turkel), noticing that the bar is suddenly and mysteriously stocked with rows of liquor bottles. The demonic, vampirish-looking but cordial Lloyd panders to Jack's irresistible desire to return to his former alcoholic ways by accepting Jack's credit and offering free drinks within the Overlook [now drawing parallels to Dracula's castle].

In a classic monologue-of-sorts, Jack speaks to the archetypal bartender. Weak and reluctantly "on the wagon," Jack succumbs to his corrupt and evil personality, riddled with guilt and frustration, but suddenly gains bar-talk "words of wisdom" in his speech. He jokes about his familial problems with Wendy ("the ol' sperm bank upstairs"), and then minimizes his past guilt by confessing to an accidental, unintentional, "momentary loss of muscular coordination" when he hit Danny in a fatherly rage. Earlier, Jack also refers to the "white man's burden" - the title of Rudyard Kipling's 1889 poem, with the concept that the civilizing 'white man' was destined to occupy the lands of the heathens ("half-devil, half-child"), as manifest destiny, in order to raise them up and baptize them:

Jack: Hi, Lloyd. A little slow tonight, isn't it? (Jack emanates a belly laugh)
Lloyd: Yes it is, Mr. Torrance. What'll it be?
Jack: I'm awfully glad you asked me that, Lloyd. Because I just happen to have two twenties and two tens right here in my wallet. I was afraid they were gonna be there until next April. So here's what. You slip me a bottle of bourbon, a little glass, and some ice. You can do that, can't you, Lloyd? You're not too busy, are ya?
Lloyd: No sir, I'm not busy at all.
Jack: Good man. You set 'em up and I'll knock 'em back, Lloyd, one by one. White man's burden, Lloyd, white man's burden. (Jack opens his wallet and finds it empty) Say Lloyd, it seems I'm temporarily light. How's my credit in this joint, anyway?
Lloyd: Your credit's fine, Mr. Torrance.
Jack: That's swell. I like ya, Lloyd. I always liked ya. You were always the best of 'em. Best god-damn bartender from Timbuktu to Portland, Maine - or Portland, Oregon for that matter.
Lloyd: Thank you for saying so.
Jack: Here's to five miserable months on the wagon and all the irreparable harm that it's caused me.
Lloyd: How are things going, Mr. Torrance?
Jack: Things could be better, Lloyd. Things could be a whole lot better.
Lloyd: I hope it's nothing serious.
Jack: No. (He taps the bar for a second drink) Nothing serious. Just a little problem with the, uh, ol' sperm bank upstairs. Nothing I can't handle, though Lloyd, thanks.
Lloyd: Women. Can't live with 'em. Can't live without 'em.
Jack: Words of wisdom, Lloyd. Words of wisdom. I never laid a hand on him, god-damn it. I didn't. I wouldn't touch one hair on his god-damned little head. I love the little son-of-a-bitch. I'd do anything for him. Any f--kin' thing for him. That bitch! As long as I live, she'll never let me forget what happened. I did hurt him once, OK? But it was an accident, completely unintentional. Could have happened to anybody. And it was three god-damned years ago. The little f--ker had thrown all my papers all over the floor. All I tried to do was pull him up - a momentary loss of muscular coordination. A few extra foot-pounds of energy per second, per second.

Hysterical and frantic, Wendy runs into the bar carrying a baseball bat (signed by Carl Yastrzemski) and retrieves Jack from his reverie. She screams that Danny was attacked and strangled by a crazy woman within the hotel: "Jack, there's someone else in the hotel with us. There's a crazy woman in one of the rooms. She tried to strangle Danny." Lloyd - the fraternizing ghost and the well-stocked bar, and any other evidence of the supernatural immediately disappear, yet Jack still seems drunk. Jack turns to her, and responds to her gradual descent into craziness with a role reversal:

Jack: Are you out of your f--kin' mind?
Wendy: No, this is the truth, really! I swear it, Danny told me. He went up into one of the bedrooms. The door was open and he saw this crazy woman in the bathtub. She tried to strangle him.
Jack: Which room was it?

The next scene begins with a close-up of the start of the "Newswatch" program on TV, a show anchored by Glenn Rinker in the Miami, Florida area. As the camera slowly pulls back, an impassive, motionless Hallorann watches the Miami-based TV broadcast (a report on the blizzard in the Rockies that is affecting the Overlook Hotel) through his outstretched feet on the bed in his off-season home. (His bedroom is adorned with large portraits of proud, busty, naked Afro-American women.) As a shrill squeak and a thunderous heartbeat rise in volume, his stony face changes - his eyes widen and lift up with an aghast look toward the ceiling. His mouth opens and his face trembles. He registers horror to a "shining" - a dangerous vision with an SOS call for help, possibly communicated by Danny's psychic telepathy:

- the open door of Room 237 from the hallway of the Overlook, with the red hotel key in the lock
- a close-up of Danny drooling and shivering in a trance
- a camera pan inside Room 237

[From this point until Chef Dick Hallorann finally arrives at the Overlook Hotel on a rescue mission, scenes are intercut showing him frantically calling the hotel - unsuccessfully; having the Fire Service attempt contact by radio - unsuccessfully; flying to Colorado by plane and then renting a car and driving to Boulder during a snow-storm traveler's advisory, and on the last leg of the trip, borrowing a Snow-Cat to get to the Overlook.]

Similarly tempted, Jack responds to Wendy's summons to go investigate Room 237 - the room that Hallorann warned Danny never to enter - the central heart and key to the deadly horror of the hotel. Following the camera pan inside the room, Jack's hand slowly pushes open the half-closed bathroom door of the mysterious, green and orange room. Behind the bathtub curtain, a hazy, nude figure is taking a bath. When the young, totally-nude female figure (Lia Beldam) draws back the sheer white shower curtain, rises, and steps from the tub, Jack lustfully leers back at her in anticipation of her slow-motion approach. The attractive, ghostly apparition sexually seduces him away from loyalty to his wife - he is already alienated from her anyway. The heart-beat, echoing loudly on the soundtrack, ties together Dick's apparition, Danny's SOS psychic transmission, and Jack's entry into the bathroom.

When she stops in the middle of the room, he starts toward her - she seductively moves her hands up over his chest and around his neck. Jack embraces and kisses the illusory, beautiful bather - but when he looks over her shoulder at their embrace in the mirror behind her, he sees that her age has accelerated. She is metamorphisized into a demonic, necrophiliac lover - a pulsating, partially-decomposed corpse - a wrinkled, thick-skinned old hag (Billie Gibson)! [In the novel, she was a woman who had committed suicide in the room - in Room 217, not 237 as in the film.] The hotel's forces and its specter of violence mock his weakness - she cackles at his tempted infidelity and attraction for the repulsive dead. He has envisioned his own life's almost-complete ruinous disintegration - his writing, his family ties, his marriage, and his self-worth.

Danny again drools and shakes in a trance - a reaction to what he also encountered in the bathroom room. The alien creature, remarkably, appears simultaneously in his arms and in the bathtub. The bloated hag, a putrefied cadaver, lies floating - partially under-water - in the tub and then resurrects herself upright. As Jack back-pedals out of the room, her cackling grows larger and she shuffles toward him with her arms extended to embrace him. He flees from frightful Room 237, locks the door, and retreats - for his life.

When Jack returns from his encounter, he denies that there was anything in Room 237, placating Wendy by assuring her that Danny will soon be "himself" again. Wendy, however, doesn't necessarily believe him, asking about his explanation for the bruises on Danny's neck. Jack answers that Danny could have injured himself - like he did in the episode he suffered before their move to the Overlook:

Wendy: Did you find anything?
Jack: No, nothing at all. I didn't see one god-damned thing.
Wendy: You went into the room Danny said - to 237?
Jack: Yes, I did.
Wendy: And you didn't see anything at all?
Jack: Absolutely nothin'. How is he?
Wendy: He's still asleep.
Jack: Good. I'm sure he'll be himself again in the morning.
Wendy: Well, are you sure it was the right room? I mean, maybe Danny made a mistake?
Jack: He must have gone in that room. The door was open, the lights were on.
Wendy: Oh, I just don't understand it. What about those bruises on his neck? Somebody did that to him.
Jack: I think he did it to himself.
Wendy: No, that's not possible.
Jack: Wendy, once you rule out his version of what happened, there is no other explanation, is there? It wouldn't be that different from the episode that he had before we came up here, would it?

In bed, Danny, with his extra-sensory ability, suffers from another trance. He overhears the conversation between his parents and reacts with his feverish imagination to all instances of his father's mistreatment of him. He sees the word: "REdrUM" scrawled in red across a door while reacting in horror to his father's deception, and a brief reprise of the blood-flooded hotel elevator. The reversed words signify the disordered, imbalanced universe of the Overlook. Jack self-defensively flares up with rage at Wendy for even suggesting that they give up their contractual arrangement with the macabre hotel and leave - in order to get Danny out of the hotel:

Wendy: Whatever the explanation is, I think we have to get Danny out of here.
Jack: Get him out of here?
Wendy: Yes.
Jack: You mean just leave the hotel?
Wendy: Yes. (Danny envisions the hotel elevator lobby again filling with torrents of blood splashing out of the elevator)
Jack: (exploding in rage) This is so f--king typical of you to create a problem like this when I finally have a chance to accomplish something - when I'm really into my work! I could really write my own ticket if I went back to Boulder now, couldn't I? Shoveling out driveways, work in a car wash. Doesn't that appeal to you?
Wendy: Jake.
Jack: Wendy, I have let you f--k up my life so far, but I am not gonna let you f--k this up!

Jack storms off out of the apartment and into the hotel's kitchen as Wendy breaks into tears on the bed. After taking out his rage in the kitchen, he finds the hotel corridor strewn with festive party decorations - colored balloons, streamers, and confetti. In the distance, he hears the sounds of a 1920s dance band and party revelers within the Gold Room [slightly anachronistically, the tune was the 1931 song Dancing in the Dark], now transformed into a nightclub ballroom. Forgetting his anger for the moment, Jack strides through the entrance in his common, caretaker garb. He is greeted: "Good evening, Mr. Torrance." The spectral party-goers are grotesquely beautiful, resembling characters in The Great Gatsby with their 20s period costumes. He proceeds to the bar, where Lloyd is still the faithful bartender, satanically dressed with red, horn-shaped lapels on his jacket. Jack, who feels right at home with his "ancestors," invites himself to partake with a drink of the "hair of the dog that bit me." [This is one of a few illusions in the film to the transformative werewolf tale - with Jack descending to a subhuman level, showing five-o'clock shadow on his unshaven face, and his reference to The Three Little Pigs tale, wherein he plays the wolf.] He is surprised that the bourbon is free of charge [of money anyway]:

Jack: Hi, Lloyd. Been away, but now I'm back.
Lloyd: Good evening, Mr. Torrance. It's good to see you.
Jack: It's good to be back, Lloyd.
Lloyd: What'll it be, sir?
Jack: Hair of the dog that bit me.
Lloyd: Bourbon on the rocks.
Jack: That'll do her.
Lloyd: No charge to you, Mr. Torrance.
Jack: No charge?
Lloyd: Your money is no good here. Orders from the house.
Jack: 'Orders from the house?'
Lloyd: Drink up, Mr. Torrance.
Jack: I'm the kind of man who likes to know who's buyin' their drinks, Lloyd.
Lloyd: It's not a matter that concerns you, Mr. Torrance. At least not at this point.
Jack: Anything you say, Lloyd. Anything you say.

As he strolls among the guests, the demented Jack collides with a waiter and "advocaat" is spilled down his jacket front. [Advocaat is a full-bodied liqueur made from a rich and creamy blend of egg yolks, aromatic spirits, sugar and brandy with a hint of vanilla.] They are sidetracked to the stunningly blood-red interior of the gentlemen's room (filled with mirrors!) where the waiter/manservant dutifully cleans Jack's coat. The ghostly waiter's name is Delbert Grady (Philip Stone), whose last name is the same as Jack's murderous predecessor/caretaker. Jack asks a few nervous, accusatory questions to the waiter [Jack is actually staring into the mirror during their entire conversation], but Grady graciously denies ever having been the caretaker of the Overlook and has no memory of it, although he matches the description and has "a wife and two daughters." Grady asserts that Jack, an ex-school teacher, has always been present in the hotel as its caretaker, presumably in a past life, in a different time period, or in a previous reincarnation. [Grady should know - he has also "always been" at the hotel with Jack, both in the 1920s, and in 1970 (fifty years later) when he murdered his family]:

Jack: Mr. Grady. You were the caretaker here. I recognize ya. I saw your picture in the newspapers. You, uh, chopped your wife and daughters up into little bits. And then you blew your brains out.
Grady: That's strange, sir. I don't have any recollection of that at all.
Jack: Mr. Grady. You were the caretaker here.
Grady: I'm sorry to differ with you, sir. But you are the caretaker. You've always been the caretaker. I should know, sir. I've always been here.

The steely-eyed, unctuous, British-accented, quasi-cultured (and racist) servant warns Jack about his son's attempt to bring an outsider into the Overlook. With a combination of deference and mastery in the scene, Grady suggests that his "duty" is to protect (care-take) the well-being of the hotel. And sometimes, he advises, a family needs to be "corrected" when it is offensive. The loathsome English waiter, a personification of Jack's inner demons, seduces and goads Jack into maintaining control of his family (and ensuring the predominance of evil in the hotel) by enacting a brutal, murderous plan. He must 'correct' his boy's willfulness by killing his family:

Grady: Did you know, Mr. Torrance, that your son is attempting to bring an outside party into this situation? Did you know that?
Jack: No.
Grady: He is, Mr. Torrance.
Jack: Who?
Grady: A n----r.
Jack: A n----r?
Grady: A n----r cook.
Jack: How?
Grady: Your son has a very great talent. I don't think you are aware how great it is. That he is attempting to use that very talent against your will.
Jack: He is a very willful boy.
Grady: Indeed he is, Mr. Torrance. A very willful boy. A rather naughty boy, if I may be so bold, sir.
Jack: It's his mother. She, uh, interferes.
Grady: Perhaps they need a good talking to, if you don't mind my saying so. Perhaps a bit more. My girls, sir, they didn't care for the Overlook at first. One of them actually stole a pack of matches, and tried to burn it down. But I corrected them sir. And when my wife tried to prevent me from doing my duty, I corrected her.

Pacing back and forth in their apartment, Wendy considers taking the Snow-cat to notify the Fire Service rangers that they are evacuating the premises: "If Jack won't come with us, I'll just have to tell them that we're goin' by ourselves." Wendy finds Danny in his bedroom where he incants the mantra "Redrum," and speaks trance-like in the low, gutteral, growling voice of Tony, telling her that Danny's personality has been taken over by Tony, his alter ego: "Danny's not here, Mrs. Torrance...Danny can't wake up, Mrs. Torrance...Danny's gone away, Mrs. Torrance." To cut the hotel off from the outside world, Jack disconnects important components from the inside of the CB radio.

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