‘Horror’ is the genre where more often we witness those lower budget senseless zombie films with stereotyped formulae and typecast characters to befool the poor mass audience with special effects of gory visuals and sound. But then there are certain films which uplifts the ‘Genre’ with their nerve wrenching treatment. For me Director William Friedkin’s ‘The Exorcist’ is such a classic example. Watching Stanley Kubrick’s this masterpiece also gave me the same feel.
From a script he adapted from the novel written by Stephen King, Kubrick meld finest performance of Jack Nicholson, menacing setting, nightmarish tracking shots and shocking twists. Carrying forward the tradition of Kubrick’s aggressive lead character as antagonist, Jack Nicholson here plays Jack Torrance, who comes to elegant, isolated hotel as off-season caretaker with his wife and a son. Has he ever been here or not? The answer lies in the time wrap of madness and murder.
Watching those various macabre facial expressions of Jack Nicholson (especially those slow changes that started happening to his character transforming his behavior) makes anybody agree with the view that one don’t require zombie make up or gory special effects to stage horror; the natural facial expressions are scarier than any special effects when one has Jack Nicholson kind of actor on sleeve. Late Heath Ledger who had done his immortal ‘Joker act’ may be learned thing or two from Nicholson’s brilliant idiosyncratic gestures and dialogue delivery in this film. Watch Jack Nicholson in a scene where he talks with the bartender first time in the forbidden room of the hotel or a scene where his wife read his typewritten pages and then he enters suddenly into the room and many of you will agree with me. Kudos to Nicholson as always. He delivered a performance which I would like to add in my all-time greatest villain acts.
Cinematography plays pivotal role in thriller and horror films and John Alcott has captured all the frames with his mastery. There are also fine aerial landscape shots in the beginning too. The combination of chilling background sound and haunting visuals add more horror in the screenplay. Horror creates intense mood when the characters are in isolation and that’s what Kubrick had captured in almost all scenes.
A Brilliant Horror Masterpiece.