The Shining fan notices new creepy detail in Jack Nicholson's performance

The Shining
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The Shining may have been released over 40 years ago, but viewers are still noticing new details in Stanley Kubrick's terrifying classic. One such viewer is writer and Kubrick scholar Filippo Ulivieri, who pointed out (in a 50-part Twitter thread) that lead actor Jack Nicholson, who plays the Overlook Hotel's caretaker Jack Torrance, breaks the fourth wall – not once, not twice, but several times in the movie, but it happens so fast that it's a blink-or-you'll-miss-it situation. 

Ulivieri points out that when a character usually breaks the fourth wall in a movie or TV show, it happens just once. "What Nicholson does in The Shining is instead completely different," he explains. "It does not feel deliberate, and it may well escape our perception. In fact, as I said, I’m not aware of anybody noticing it so far." 

He goes on to write that "it is difficult to dismiss this detail as a mistake. There are just too many, it cannot be accidental." The examples in the thread highlight that this occurs throughout the film, and Ulivieri points out that it's only Nicholson who does this. You can see some examples below.

Screenshot of Tweet

(Image credit: @nessuno2001 via Twitter)

Screenshot of Tweet

(Image credit: @nessuno2001 via Twitter)

He continues: "My idea is that perhaps Kubrick used this unusually constant and imperceptible breaking of the fourth wall as another way of challenging movie conventions. What he has done here is formally wrong – it goes against dramaturgical norms and film grammar. 

"Moreover, I think The Shining is an extreme film in many ways. It’s so over the top that it places itself between the scary and the ridiculous. So maybe this is another over-the-top idea that Kubrick had. Like, why don’t we break the fourth wall, but we do it all the time?"

While The Shining may be one of the most famous Stephen King adaptations in cinema, there's a new one heading to the big screen: The Boogeyman arrives in theaters on June 2. For more on the movie, check out our interview with star Chris Messina and take a look at our list of King adaptations, ranked.

Entertainment Writer

I’m an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering everything film and TV-related across the Total Film and SFX sections. I help bring you all the latest news and also the occasional feature too. I’ve previously written for publications like HuffPost and i-D after getting my NCTJ Diploma in Multimedia Journalism.