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The Shining

At Nightmares Fear Factory in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, you will find horror, and horror will find you too. In the Nightmares Fear Factory, the halls are dark, narrow, and long. The walls shift. The eyes watch. Hands reach. Things scream.

At Nightmares Fear Factory, in Clifton Hill Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, you will find out how brave you are.

Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, based on a novel by Stephen King, is so type-casted by now that it’s something you’ve probably seen already—and if you haven’t seen it, you’ve probably seen it parodied, meme’d or made reference to enough that you know the plot. However, I have never seen it, and so I wanted to watch it and write a review so that you can remember what it was like when you saw it for the first time.

Loosely, Jack Nicholson’s character takes his family to a secluded area known as the Overlook Hotel to watch the place for its shut-down season in the winter. He’s there to write a book and keep the place running.

Soon, things begin to go badly.

I think The Shining breaks down into two major elements which fuel the horror of the movie, where the horror itself is almost entirely psychological. You won’t find the sudden jump-scares of a movie like Alien, and you won’t find the concentrated brutality in Saw, or even the intentional, hovering malice of a slasher film.

Instead you get the low, raw, very human horror that actually figures mostly in science fiction movies after this. How isolation and repetitive action can drive a human being completely insane, though, in this case of The Shining, there are some ghost-story bits thrown in.

The first element is the excruciatingly slow pace of the movie. Every “horrifying” act is so unbelievably foreshadowed, focused on, and obviated, that it’s impossible not to know what’s about to happen. Because those acts are typically so slow in pace, it creates a natural suspense element which almost can’t even be relieved even by the finishing of the act.

The second element of The Shining is the purposeful transition of Jack Nicholson’s character from a goofy, moronic sort of person into a serial killer by the end of the movie. The end result of the character, in fact, reminded me a lot of his depiction of the Joker, from the 1980s Batman movie.

The movie makes it happen by introducing a bunch of imaginary characters into the mix, from the animated corpse of an old woman to a bartender, to the ghost of one of the older caretakers, whom we are told went made and murdered his family with an axe. Fittingly, Nicholson’s character attempts the same thing to conclude the movie.

Why is it scary? The Shining breaks down to the ruin that isolation and that sort of helplessness can have on the human psyche. On some level, we’re all aware that we could become this person under the right conditions, and take an axe to anyone nearby.

If you’re interested in a brief taste of that type of action, you should make your way to the Nightmares Fear Factory in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

Down there, you’re isolated and alone, and not only that. Your own imaginary cast of characters will come to visit, maybe aided by the nightmares that haunt the premises.

So come down to Nightmares Fear Factory, in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, and find out how brave you are.