Watching The Shining last night (on the big screen for once, ow owww!) made me realize how much I love the sloowwwww build up to impending doom in stories. I've been criticized a bunch of times for how slow things progress in a lot of my comics *ahem*especially Gods & Undergrads apparently*ahem* and I kind of knew I liked that style, but I didn't realize how often that pops up in some of my faves.
Seeing The Shining in the theater obviously took advantage of all of Kubrick's big, empty rooms and loooong shots cycling behind Danny in the Big Wheel, but it also gave the audience a LOT of time to take in all the little things that were slowly happening. My friend and I used to laugh at the subtitle screens shouting TUESDAY at us, after a particularly long shot of Jack doing nothing but staring out a window and drooling.
We thought it was there just to provide absurd drama for no reason. Really it was breaking up the hypnotic shots of calm eerieness that we'd been sucked into - and didn't even realize we were being sucked into -- until TUESDAY or SATURDAY rolled around on the screen and we snapped out of it. It's a perfect way of showing both just how quickly the meltdown starts to occur in the hotel (only a month, and what - a week into their 5 month stay?) while also making you feel like - as it says at the end - that Jack has always been there.
And I was just realizing that - as much as I adore Jack's wacky insanity from the get-go in the movie, his over-the-top goofiness combined with those endless open spaces make the climax all the more terrifying. After running around with a bat through endless corridors swatting at imaginary threats, Wendy is finally cornered into a cramped bathroom and the impossibility of fitting through an even cramped, tinier window as her only escape. There in that tiny space she has to confront all of the suddenly lethal (and only mildly funny) rage of Jack and his axe. All of the terror and buildup of the movie is suddenly all up in her face, and it's terrifying to see her complete meltdown.
But then she still manages to hack at him with her knife, get out, rescue her son and leave him to freeze to death.