The 1970’s movie The Shining is a great example of a classic horror film using typical conventions that have been repeated time and time again.

I first came across this text at a very young age, when it was on television late at night. The scene with the decomposed naked old lady in the bath is a picture that has stayed with me for a very long time. I recently watched the movie again and it is still an outstanding triumph; the reason I am critiquing this particular text.

My initial selection of the genre was relatively simple: My preference in the world of media is film; I particularly enjoy horror and feel that I am quite familiar with its many facets. The older horror films from the 70’s and 80’s are truly terrifying and set the precedent for all of those that followed. Many genre conventions from The Shining have been parodied and used satirically through time. The ‘Here’s Jonny…’ moment is a beyond doubt iconic piece of cinema history, used again and again.

The film begins with establishing shots of the area where the rest of the movie will be set. An eerie winding mountain road dusted with clouds, the music a frightening prelude of simplicity which will progress throughout the film. I think sound is a key conventional element that the film has conformed to. The lingering silences and shrieking ambient effects are used commonly in the horror genre. In addition to this, Jack Nicholson commonly plays a fantastic villain, so he also fits the genres’ conventions. Seeing Nicholson in a film may immediately bring about the assumption that the film will be A) Horror or B) Thriller. The Shining is both.

Content is an obvious factor that the film adheres to by the way of genre convention too. The murderous spree of the villainous protagonist, the fleeing of the helpless heroine etc etc

To stray away then from convention and not conform, the film adopts some rather comical moments I suppose, due to Nicholson’s charismatic nature, with past and future roles where he plays a psychotic character (One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, The Joker in Batman), his ability to add humour and warmth to the villain is quite oppositional to that of the norm, where the audience is made to disgust the villain.

With previous knowledge, I am allowed to enjoy the text more as it already creates a picture in my head and builds expectation. I understand the language of the horror genre and what to expect, which is why I am pulled back again and again. As said in the lecture notes, as a viewer you have already made a deal with the author/director when you return to a genre. You already know its constrains, its characteristics and its duties and that’s why you like it and that’s why it likes its codes and conventions and sticks to them sometimes quite rigidly, so to achieve expectations highly each and every time it is viewed.