Want personalized picks that fit your family?

Set preferences to see our top age-appropriate picks for your kids.

Get age-based picks

The Shining

Movie review by
Kevin John Bozelka, Common Sense Media
The Shining Movie Poster Image
Kubrick's suspenseful horror classic is violent and dark.
  • R
  • 1980
  • 144 minutes
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 56 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 233 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

No real positive messages in this classic horror movie. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

The lead male character develops severe dementia while spending a long winter alone with his wife and child working as the caretaker of a Colorado hotel. He's discussed as being a recovering alcoholic with anger issues. His wife seems like she hasn't fully processed the trauma or is in denial about the severity of an incident concerning a time three months prior when her husband came home drunk and physically abused their son Danny. Danny has psychic abilities and speaks with an "imaginary friend" named Tony. 


Frequent nightmarish horror imagery: the bloodied corpses of two twin girls known to have been murdered with an axe several years ago, rivers of blood gush through the elevators of the lobby, an elderly man with a hatchet in his head and blood dripping down his face. In real-time moments, a man is killed when another man strikes him in the chest with an axe. A man who has lost his mind attempts to kill his wife and child with an axe. His wife knocks him unconscious by hitting him in the head with a baseball bat. 


Full-frontal nudity -- an attractive young woman turns into an elderly woman with rotting skin. Implied oral sex in a sequence of nightmarish imagery involving someone dressed in an animal costume and the bartender. A painting of a nude woman prominently displayed in the apartment of the hotel chef. 


"N" word used in one scene. "F--k." "A--holes." "Goddamn." "Hell." 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adult characters smoke cigarettes. Cigar smoking. Talk of Jack's alcoholic past; in scenes in which Jack's nightmarish delusions are brought to life, he drinks whiskey in the hotel ballroom. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Shining is the classic 1980 Stanley Kubrick-directed film based on the Stephen King novel about a man hired to be the caretaker of a hotel deep in the mountains of Colorado who develops severe dementia from a combination of "cabin fever" and the dark and haunted past of the hotel. Blood flows throughout this film -- literally -- in several notorious scenes. There are axe murders and decomposed bodies. The main character, a recovering alcoholic, slowly goes insane and aims to kill his family. He verbally abuses his wife throughout most of the film. There's some alcohol and cigarette use. The main character's wife discusses with a child psychologist a recent incident in which her husband came home drunk and physically abused their son Danny. There's occasional profanity, including a scene in which the cook of the hotel is called the "N" word and a use of "f--k." Frequent horror imagery. Full-frontal nudity -- an attractive young woman turns into an elderly woman with rotting skin. Implied oral sex in a sequence of nightmarish imagery.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 10 and 10 year old Written bydavid.wallace June 5, 2011


The shining is my favorite horror film. But between the naked young woman who turns into a decomposing elderly woman; oral sex performed on a man by a person in... Continue reading
Adult Written byParamoreFan09 December 31, 2014

Freaky, strange, but not overly horrific

I am scared easily and typically cannot do horror movies, but I decided to stick around when my family was watching this because it's an iconic film. I reg... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byMeow314159 April 16, 2011

One of the best horror movies

I saw this movie and I LOVED it. It was genius! I thought the acting was amazing also. It does have language though, and there is one scene where it shows a... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byerica921 May 14, 2011

What's the story?

In a career-defining role, Jack Nicholson plays Jack Torrance, a writer entrusted as caretaker of a gargantuan Colorado hotel during its off-season winter months. Accompanying Torrance are his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and his son Danny (Danny Lloyd). Slowly, the punishing snowstorms and overall isolation (or perhaps something else?) pushes Jack into madness.

Is it any good?

Director Stanley Kubrick can make your own living room seem creepy and unfamiliar. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the freak-out factor is unnaturally high in THE SHINING, Kubrick's 1980 film of Stephen King's celebrated horror novel.

At first, the film feels a bit empty. Nicholson's Jack seems nutty from frame one, providing little arc for his character. Each character sees visions, leaving the audience no easy points of identification. The apparitions seem to know more about the story than we do, fostering some very real twists and turns. Kubrick constantly pulls the rug out from under us in relation to what is real and what is not. This film is truly one of the scariest movies of all time and is not for the faint of heart. Teens might be drawn to this movie for its one-of-a-kind menacing atmosphere. However, it's inappropriate for kids.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the relationship between fantasy and reality in the film. Do you find yourself confused about what's "really" happening at various points in the film? In what different ways could these scenes be interpreted?

  • Stephen King, the author of the novel The Shining, strongly disapproved of the ways in which Stanley Kubrick interpreted both the characters and the story of his novel, and yet, The Shining film is considered to be a classic. What would be the challenges in adapting a novel to film, and why do you think some filmmakers take liberties in both the story and the way in which characters are conveyed? 

  • How is music and sound used to heighten the moments of horror and suspense in this movie? 

  • How does this classic compare to modern horror movies?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

For kids who love to be scared

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate