As the night grew cold and the streets of Ann Arbor became quiet, horror enthusiasts and casual moviegoers alike herded into the beautiful interior of Michigan Theatre. The theatre’s 10 pm screening of The Shining was a part of their Late Nights at the Michigan series, promoting one-time screenings of classic films across all genres. I was particularly drawn to The Shining; I’d seen it before, but I’d never had the chance to watch the film in theatres, where it was intended to be viewed in all its horrifying glory. The theatre’s vast open spaces and elaborate antique decor mirror the atmosphere of The Shining‘s infamous Overlook Hotel, in which the film takes place; a troubled family lives in the vacated hotel for a long winter, falling victim to the effects of isolation and the hotel’s dark history. In addition to the actual venue drawing me into the movie, the experience of the big screen and immersive sound made the viewing experience infinitely better than the other times I’d watched The Shining on small screens at home.
One thing I’ve noticed about moviegoers at Michigan Theatre is that they truly love movies. The crowd reacted collectively to the scariest moments and even laughed at parts, appreciating the film’s quality while keeping a lighthearted attitude. After the two and a half exhilarating and exhausting hours, applause echoed throughout the room, moviegoers excitedly discussing the experience. If you’re looking for a passionate group to appreciate artistry with, the Michigan Theatre is the place to go.
The Shining was a wild ride; Jack Nicholson’s warped facial expressions are infinitely more terrifying when his face is twenty feet tall, and the huge screen has the same effect on the empty hotel’s menacing interior. I love The Shining for its simplicity relative to other popular horror flicks; it relies on psychological manipulation, incredibly slow build-up, and just enough context clues to keep the audience scared of the mysteries that lurk behind each corner, rather than constant jump-scares and disturbing imagery. The few scenes that revolve around actual violence and horror, rather than the threat of it, are so powerful and wisely executed that they are all timeless images ingrained in pop culture. Even the cast is minimal; all three main actors deliver incredible performances, so the film never feels phony— sometimes Shelley Duvall’s terror felt too real. From Jack Torrence’s cold “Kubrick stare” to the motif of the axe and a blood-filled hallway, The Shining has found a way to be beautifully simple and avoid horror overkill while reigning as the king of horror for forty years, scaring generations to come.
Although this screening was a one-time event, Michigan’s Late Nights at the Michigan series continues through February. Tickets are only $8.50 for students, and they’re selling fast, so be sure to check out upcoming screenings for an exciting way to spend a Friday night!