I've heard people categorize it as a horror film, art film, thriller, even a black comedy. Which is it? Even my Film Studies professor was unsure.

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    genres are messy and a lot of them aren't necessarily mutually exclusive
    – DForck42
    Commented Feb 17, 2020 at 19:04
  • Even as a kid I always sort of thought of it as a comedy. Even now at 40 it's hard for me to watch it and not get a few laughs at it. While this comment doesn't help much, it goes to show why I clicked on your question and that it is interesting I'm not the only one who never saw it as the genre it is allegedly associated with. Funny cause by all indications it would be a horror movie. Makes me wonder if someone isn't as brilliant as they are regarded to be... or are I guess. Goes both ways.
    – Kai Qing
    Commented Feb 18, 2020 at 1:07

1 Answer 1


According to Wikipedia, it's considered a horror film.

The Shining is a 1980 horror film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick[7] and co-written with novelist Diane Johnson. The film is based on Stephen King's 1977 novel The Shining. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Shining_(film)

However, many consider the film a psychological-thriller or psychological horror film...

The Shining - A psychological thriller The Shining relates in many ways to other psychological thrillers. A psychological thriller is a sub genre of a thriller whereby the director uses elements that relates to the mind or the processes of the mind. They are mental rather than physical in nature. The main characters are usually more reliant on mental resources instead of physical strength to overcome their issues. There are many different conventions featured in “The Shining” that relate to the thriller genre and help make the film a more tense and suspense filled great. A film that is extremely disturbing but yet compels the viewer to see more. Kubrick made sure that this film would be perfect in all respects and made no mistakes. He understood how to capture the audience and how to really disturb them with chilling and menacing moments. The whole film including the camera movement, shots, angles and sounds all combined together with such perfection that the audience is completely inhaled in the intense, exhilarating madness that is “The Shining”. http://conventionsthriller.blogspot.com/2011/10/shining-psychological-thriller.html

To understand how hard that is, watch another psychological horror film that’s very good—and then compare it to The Shining. For example, take The Vanishing—the 1988 Dutch original, not the crappy American remake. It’s a measured, smart, offhandedly creepy, absorbing film. On Rotten Tomatoes, it’s 100% fresh. Still, do you care about these characters as much as you care about Shelley Duvall and her young son in The Shining? No.

What makes The Shining work so well is how adeptly and efficiently Kubrick and co-writer Diane Johnson draw us into King’s narrative of domestic violence. Even as Jack Nicholson is touring the hotel, we’re being given hints that there’s a deep tension in the couple’s relationship. After the family move in, the story simultaneously and insidiously advances on both the supernatural and psychological fronts: we learn more about the family’s history just as we’re learning more about the hotel’s history. http://thetangential.com/2014/10/27/why-the-shining-is-the-best-psychological-horror-film-ever/

Just to add, even the though the film holds it's own weight and does not explain or better examine it's mythology like the book does, I would also argue since a lot of Stephen King works tie into The Dark Tower series, that one could make an argument that The Shinning (and it's sequel Doctor Sleep) have supernatural elements as well, lending itself to science-fiction & fantasy also.

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    Although I can see elements from other genres that could be minor genres (as one minors in a subject in college), I can’t see how anyone could conclude that it is not primarily a horror movie - or if one wanted to really stretch it - a ghost story thriller.
    – dgo
    Commented Nov 24, 2017 at 13:03
  • @user1167442 Ya, there are a lot of analytical-type articles on the net that do a decant job at breaking down how pyschologically complex the film is. I came across of nice reads! Commented Nov 24, 2017 at 19:25

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