Scores: (out of 5)
Psychological relevance to this current moment: 5
Psychological benefit in this current moment: -5
The day after watching The Shining , Zanna and I took the kids for a walk to look for teddy bears and government-mandated Easter Egg art. As we walked, I tried to engage her in discussion about the place and function of mirrors in the movie. I was desperate for her to validate my intelligence by agreeing with my theory that they were a visual representation of the opposing sides of Jack (Jack Nicholson) across both psychological and temporal spheres.
I tried to tell her about it four times in the hour we were out. Because the kids were always yelling or whining about something, she found me easy to ignore, eventually telling me it wasn't something we should discuss in front of the kids. I disagreed, but she couldn't hear me over the kids.
It had been a struggle to get through the movie. Zanna started falling asleep with an hour to go, at which point I said, "Let's finish it tomorrow", but she refused, insisting a film has to be watched in a single sitting. To keep herself awake, she squatted on the floor. A few minutes later, our son woke up. I took him back to bed. A few minutes after that, our middle daughter woke up. I took her back to bed while Zanna lay with our son. When we finally got back to the movie, it was 11pm and we were both exhausted, but nevertheless pushed through to the baffling finish.
The Shining is either a meditation on the psychological torment and eventual psychotic breakdown of a middle-aged father, husband and writer following a month of isolation with his family, or a confusing ghost story involving something like an alternate reality. The man's son has a psychic finger that talks to him, often about the dangerous madness of his father.
In bed the next night Zanna said, "I feel like we haven't talked about the movie at all." When I mentioned my many attempts to do exactly that, she waved me away and said something about the overwhelming amount of emotional labour she was being forced to take on right now.
When my son woke up on Tuesday morning, three days after we'd watched the movie, I said good morning and gave him a kiss. He looked up at me in silence for a second or two, then said, "You didn't say good morning to my finger."
How long until this isolation ends?
One marriage, two reviews: Meghan Markle's movie Elephant
I only recall genuinely enjoying one horror film and that was Get Out but that's not really scary in a makes-your-bottom-clench-for-120-minutes kind of way. There might be others I'd enjoy but I won't watch them so it's a moot point.
Nevertheless, given that neither Greg nor I had seen it and it's about a family trapped alone together for months, The Shining seemed like a relevant choice. It is a very good movie: Despite the fact I spent a good portion of the film looking over my shoulder - not for ghosts but for wakeful children who might be traumatised by the image of Jack Nicholson maniacally hacking down a door with an axe, or by a naked lady emerging from a bath with her blistered skin falling off - I was still able to appreciate that Stanley Kubrick is a masterful film-maker.
When I told Greg the score was exceptionally well done he said something along the lines of "It's not very hard to use scary music when something scary is about to happen". I can't be sure that's exactly what he said because we're deep into lockdown I'm only ever partially listening to him. In any case, he's wrong. The score builds tension and gives the audience false frights, providing some lightness to this very dark film.
Possibly the scariest part of the movie for a parent in lockdown is the twin girls just showing up in hallways. There ain't no way I can be responsible for extra children right now, especially ones who whisper, "Come play with us" - a phrase that sends shivers down the spine of every parent in isolation.
The Shining is more scary now than it has ever been. Do I know what the ending means? Absolutely not. Do I care to pontificate on it? Three young children will ensure I don't have any time to do that in the foreseeable future. But I would advise people in isolation to watch a film about a man in isolation spiralling into violent madness and trying to kill his family due to that isolation? Probably not.