Kubrick seems to have taken the spare bits and pieces of King’s book that he liked, and discarded all the rest, leaving us with a nigh-meaningless non-narrative (beautifully shot).
Duvall and Lloyd as Wendy and Danny Torrance are very good, and their chemistry as mother and son is touching without a trace of melodrama. Crothers says all of his lines in the right order. Bit performances by Philip Stone (Delbert Grady) and Joe Turkel (Lloyd the bartender)are amazing and steal their respective scenes.
Nicholson, on the other hand, is hammy and ridiculous as Jack Torrance. He may have once been an actor, but by this point in his career, he’s just JACK NICHOLSON. And the further away from his career peak we get, the sillier this appears when looking back. He’s not playing a character so much as throwing disdain at his lines, his co-star (Duvall) and pretty much the audience as a whole. Nicholson was about as huge as they come, and he projects just how much he knows it in every frame of this film by daring us to notice how much he’s forgotten how to really act and not just mindlessly emote.
The whole film plays as almost a commentary on the novel, as a companion piece that simply refers to the source material, to the point that watching it again recently I was convinced a number of times that I was watching a metafiction instead of the regular kind. And while the vicious attack toward the end of the film is still truly haunting, the only thing that really lingers in the memory after the film ends is the orange paint job in Scatman’s apartment, and the nude portraits of hot mommas matter-of-factly displayed on its walls.