Film Review: The Shining

The Shining is a horror movie about a man named Jack Torrance and his wife and son. Jack and his family stay at an isolated, massive hotel called the Overlook Hotel. Jack plans to spend his time at the hotel writing, attempting to cure his writer’s block. The Shining is based on a book written by Stephen King. The story slowly evolves as Stephen King’s character becomes an abusive and manipulative man towards his family. The audience realizes that Jack is mentally ill and his family is not safe with him staying at the hotel. Originally, it is perceived by the audience that Jack had been at the hotel before and he was not mentally ill. Jack’s son played an extremely important role in this movie because he was connected to the hotel through a concept called “shining.” He becomes apart of an alternate universe and communicates with a voice inside of his head. Originally, it was inferred that the son was the one that was mentally ill; however, the voice inside of his head was really trying to protect him and his mom from his father. The hotel was portrayed as a haunted building with no way out. Small clues such as the massive pantry and freezers with locks foreshadowed the scene when the mother locks Jack inside the pantry.

Throughout the movie, Jack plays mind games with his clearly oblivious wife and manipulates her into leaving him alone while he writes. One scene was particularly disturbing in which the wife finds Jack’s book that he had been writing while they were at the hotel. It is revealed that Jack was not actually writing a book and the papers were filled with the same sentence over and over again, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” The movie the Shining transformed from a story about a family staying at a hotel by themselves to an alarming and captivating film about Jack Torrance’s disturbing mind and past at the hotel. His wife and son no longer felt safe at the hotel anymore and ran from him and hid from him until they got away. This movie displayed the disturbing effect of mental illness and how you never know who a person really is. The way Jack chased his family around the hotel and kept drifting in and out of the alternate universe kept the audience attentive.

-Sasha B.

The Shining is available for checkout at the Mission Viejo Library.

Harmony House by Nic Sheff

harmonyhouse_nicsheffThis horror story takes place in a old manor in New Jersey. Jen Noonan and her father move to a quiet town to enjoy a fresh start after an unfortunate incident with Jen’s mother. At first, the move didn’t seem so terrible. Jen meets new friends and finds her place among the people. But as her stay at Harmony House continued, it becomes clear that anyone that stepped foot in the house was no longer safe.

The house holds dark secrets which are slowly revealed to Jen in visions and dreams beyond her control. These flashes into the past help her put together the history of the manor and discover how she is connected to it. Towards the beginning, Jen’s father is introduced as a believer of God, and as the story continues he acts in a way that even the main character fights against because it is absolutely ridiculous.

As annoying and extreme as his personality may be, it is crucial to the development of the story, so I painfully endured the character because I was interested to see where it would lead. The book was very well thought out and is a captivating read. I, personally, would not choose to read it again because when I pick up a horror story I expect to be scared and Harmony House didn’t do that for me. However, I would still recommend this story to a mature audience that enjoys this genre.

-Sabrina C., 11th Grade

Harmony House is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.